Chicken Wiggle (3DS eShop) Review
The ever-adorable Chicken Wiggle is a no-frills 2D platformer ideal for younger players, featuring decent replayability thanks to its solid level creation tool, but is ultimately winged by a lack of innovation.
This 3DS adventure pairs the odd coupling of a chicken and its worm friend together to rescue chickens placed into captivity by an evil witch. The unlikely prey and predator duo’s moves are an uncomplicated affair; running, jumping, pecking enemies, and using the worm as a rope to grapple onto platforms.
Chicken Wiggle’s 16-bit kaleidoscope of colours is immediately reminiscent of the old arcade game NewZealand Story, with its cute characters and cheery aesthetic a call-back to platformers of a simpler era. These older games don’t overwhelm the player with complicated controls and goals, instead focusing on sturdy platforming mechanics, and Chicken Wiggle is no different. However, it is this fierce commitment to playing it safe that holds the game back from pushing ahead of the highly competitive platformer pack. Playing through each of the eight worlds’ six levels, it feels as though everything has been seen and done before.
By far, the worm lasso is the most interesting gameplay mechanic used throughout the game. This is predominantly due to how time stops while the chicken is dragged to the worm’s destination. Tight platforming areas surrounded by enemies or fatal surfaces (such as the evergreen spike trap) can be quickly dodged by stringing together a quick combo of wall and ceiling grapples. These sections generate a sensation of flow, requiring quick thinking and precise button presses. Every few levels offer players an item to equip exclusively for that level that is required to proceed, such as a hot-air balloon, or a double-jump jetpack. The perishable nature of these items is disappointing because as soon as an interesting gameplay variation is introduced, it is just as quickly taken away. Compounding this, the final level features a cleverly-designed boss encounter, unlike any other section of the game. More of these encounters littered throughout the game would have been a welcome inclusion to break up the occasional monotony Chicken Wiggle nestles into. A somewhat pleasant monotony, however, as the game is never poor, just never quite brave enough to do something different.
Unfortunately, the rest of the time feels like going through the platforming motions. Hit this enemy here, peck this destructible wall there, platforms that appear and disappear with each jump – it all feels like a retro platformer compilation with little depth to speak of. There are collectibles to hunt down, with each level containing 100 gems and three letters spelling out “FUN”. These exist for little more than just something to do for the obsessive collectors out there; I did not find any rewards for collecting everything in a level beyond the knowledge of having collected said items. Also, some of the letters require a ridiculous level of pixel-hunting to find, as many of these are found behind secret spaces obscured by the level’s bordering walls – it is just frustrating trying to find something by randomly checking every 2D sprite in the thin hope of finding an ultimately cosmetic item. It was not long before I decided against collecting every object, despite the platforming blood coursing through my veins.
The user interface is not perfect either, as the text is absolutely tiny, straining my eyes, let alone someone with a visual impairment. Luckily, the majority of the game can be enjoyed without having to read, reinforcing its approachability for younger players. Adding to the suitability for children is the lack of consequence for failure. The playable chicken and worm duo do not have lives, or any health bar to speak of. If they make contact with an active enemy or hazard, a restart of the level is the only penalty. All levels have a mid-level checkpoint which allows players to restart from this point, but checkpoints can be turned off via the settings to add an element of challenge. Aside from this, most of the levels are relatively easy to breeze through, with the occasional challenging component thrown into the mix.
Once all of the packaged levels have been completed, there are plenty more levels hosted online via the level creation mode. Created by the developer and players alike, these levels actually offer more variety than the core game experience, including objectives such as escort the target, and defeat all enemies, which are not seen in the original levels. In my review of RPG Maker Fes, I observed that while impressive, the creation tools do not mean much if the end result is not engaging. I feel this rings true for Chicken Wiggle too, as the level editing is more than functional, but playing through created levels did not feel any significantly better than the main game.
Younger players will get the most out of what Chicken Wiggle offers; a cute, colourful and vibrant platformer to run amok in, with the added bonus of being able to create their own levels. Had the game been brave enough to innovate beyond well-known staples of the genre, it may well have been great for adults too.
- The worm grapple mechanic is used cleverly
- Solid level creation tools
- Great for younger players
- Feels like many platformers before it, without adding anything new
- Lack of level variety
- Not enough depth for more experienced players