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Chicken Run (Game Boy Color) artwork

Chicken Run (Game Boy Color) review

"Movies usually makes lousy games –at most, decent. Don’t worry; Chicken Run is no exception. It isn’t a decent game –rather, it is a lousy game. The repetition in this introduction can as a matter of fact be observed throughout the whole game. "

Movies usually makes lousy games –at most, decent. Don’t worry; Chicken Run is no exception. It isn’t a decent game –rather, it is a lousy game. The repetition in this introduction can as a matter of fact be observed throughout the whole game.

The game’s premise is simple: pave a way for the other chickens to escape. To do so, there are various missions to undertake, which are broken down into top-view levels. A full mission spans across the same setting. The game thus begins with the chickens fleeing from the farm and where you need to make sure you reach your destination on time. Your tasks include, but are not limited to, blocking a dog’s vision, digging holes, avoiding traps, and later annihilating laser beams. Dropping bags of food in a definite path will lead the chicken on to the exit.

It’s a nice concept that adopts the Metal Gear Solid stealth approach, but suffers from a bland execution.

For starters, the chickens are so dumb you will eventually want to kill them. Regardless of the number of bags you may drop in front of them, even going as far as putting them SIDE BY SIDE, they fall asleep for no apparent reason. Well, not really – they in fact often treat you with contempt and deliberately ignore the bags. This makes seconds tick away, which in turn makes you run out of time, which in turn makes you lose. Once you fail to terminate a mission within the time limit or are spotted, you have to play the whole of it again.

This becomes a vicious cycle by the end of the game, as the missions get insanely long. Make a false step, and you have to restart from scratch no matter how close you were to the ending. This makes Chicken Run an unforgivable game – your best chance of beating these levels is to willingly sacrifice lives to learn their lay-out and to figure out their solutions. I’ll even admit I cheated to complete the game. It was a futile decision though, as the ending is lame.

I realize it's weird to instantly criticize the last levels instead of concentrating on the first, but I did this for a good reason. While the latter ones are insane, their opening counterparts suffer from extremely poor visuals –although things get better when the second setting kicks in, the game’s graphics are still blurry. Sure, these introductory levels are easy, but the stiff control and edgy game play will probably make you hurl your own food. I also do not understand the chickens’ behavior. Getting to drop down food for them to follow is easy. The rest is incoherent.

While you would expect them to keep following the trails you left, they usually walk on in straight lines, thereby destroying all your dreams of ever completing the current level. Suppose you purposely remove a bag as a chicken is busy pecking at the food. I understand that this is a mistake and that the delicious animal must consequently be stunned and fall down. What I do not understand is why it will move to the OTHER SIDE of the level even though I just placed half a dozen bags AROUND HIM.

It’s a lame negative penalty, and one that contributes to make the game unnecessarily repetitive. Because of this, a single level essentially consists of performing the same task over and over again. Some duties are also arduous – like asking you to wait until a dog falls asleep so you can block his vision with a box. Incidentally, the chickens always feel like loitering near him – good luck figuring out a way to lure them towards you without letting the dog figure out your presence.

Thankfully, controlling your ego is simple – at least, its lay-out is. Your alter ego can jump over crates, pick up more food and items, and perform different other tasks. It’s a pity the controls are so unresponsive. Your chicken fails to comprehend your commands most of the time, which means more time is wasted.

Tools can be grabbed for specific functions. Use a spoon to dig a hole, which leads to the exit. Rely on a sci-fi device to get rid of dangerous laser beams. Sadly, while the first settings show some promise with each offering different missions, redundancy prevails after some time. The ensuing levels hence present the same things with a few twists, but even these don’t prevent the game from suffering from repetitiveness.

In addition, the difficulty flow between the levels is irregular. One second you are trekking through an easy stage…only to be thrown into one of the most difficult missions quickly afterwards. Bear in mind that this occurs at the middle of the game, and Chicken Run suffers from a lack of cohesion. This Easy-Tough fluctuation thus renders the game extremely frustrating. Moreover, the entire game itself does not convince any type of player with an overall difficulty that is too high for kids (who constitute the targeted audience) and too low for the rest (who probably don’t care anyway).

I am rushed!

To make things worse, it’s downright obvious care wasn’t distilled in either the graphics or the audio. The chickens look like snails and appear to wobble. The backgrounds themselves are blurry with no distinction made between items and mere details. Colors are sparse too, which is a shame given this is a game based on a vivid flick. Some stages that take place at night will even have you curse aloud – these are extremely dark, making them tedious to cover.

Audio is yet another failure with a handful of tracks that are more annoying than enjoyable. Lack of variety hurts the monotonous music that vainly tries to suit the atmosphere of the game. Granted, it’s not as if the game has a memorable mood. Remember, its lay-out is ingenious, but the ideas were never executed accordingly.

Let’s end it all!

Chicken Run’s problem is that it sets good ideas and follows the easy path, merely spewing the same stuff without really trying to abide to how it started. What could have made a good game thus crumbles under its own weight – the stealth issue is never really exploited. With horrible controls and shameful graphics and audio, there’s no real reason one should be playing it.

Or one could just consider this as yet another movie turned into a lame game.

What else is new?

siegfried's avatar
Community review by siegfried (December 18, 2003)

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