Chicken Wiggle (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Renan Fontes 16.08.2017 3

Review for Chicken Wiggle on Nintendo 3DS

Originally intended as a side project for mobile games, Atooi gained a newfound purpose when Renegade Kid shut down last year. Following the split of co-founders Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, the IPs were distributed between the two, with Watsham retaining their 2D titles and Hargrove their 3D. Chicken Wiggle is Watsham's first game since the split, and Atooi's first non-iOS exclusive. Without Hargrove co-developing the project, quite a lot rests on the success of this poultry platformer. Does it recapture that Mutant Mudds spirit, or is it a clear sign of the end of an era?

Like Jools Watsham's previous title, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, Chicken Wiggle is light on story and heavy on gameplay. The titular chicken's friends have been kidnapped by a wicked witch, and it's up to him and an unlikely alliance with a worm to save the day. It's not fleshed out because it doesn't need fleshing, but it's endearing enough to set a good tone for the rest of the platformer.

The main game is separated into eight worlds, with the first six labeled "towers." Each tower is made up of six stages all with the common goal of reaching the end of the stage and freeing a trapped chicken.

Every stage features 100 gems and three letters that spell out "FUN" to collect. As optional content within a level, they're rather standard additions. Their biggest pitfall is that there's minimal effort at documenting these collectibles. The northwest and southeast corners of the stage select screen turn yellow when every gem and letter is collected in one go, but this hardly feels like a reward worthy of straying off the beaten path. Custom-created levels do give the option of making gem collection the win condition, but they're little more than a distraction in the main game.

Control-wise, the most interesting thing Chicken Wiggle brings to the table is the use of the worm as a platforming tool. The Y button stretches out the worm and acts as a hookshot, a la The Legend of Zelda, which can grab onto any surface, or an attack that stuns faraway enemies to ease the chicken's platforming woes.

Screenshot for Chicken Wiggle on Nintendo 3DS

Worm whipping becomes especially useful later on once enemies begin wearing armor and start to serve as more traditional obstacles. They need to be stunned, then pecked in life or death scenarios that harkens back to the reflex-heavy platformers that have influenced parts of the level design.

While most of the platforming involves using the worm to traverse across platforms and reach new heights, power-ups are occasionally available that can bolster the chicken's abilities. Running shoes speed up his speed while widening the arc of his jump. The demo hat allows the chicken to peck any surface, turning the stage into a destructible environment. The best of these power-ups, the jet pack, simply gives the chicken a handy double jump.

As simple as the mechanics are, there's a level of sophistication that progresses with each stage. In a way, much of the platforming is almost puzzle-like in nature. This style of design is best seen in stages where the chicken must collect keys to unlock small gates. Enemies will occasionally be guarding the keys by hovering over death spikes, but they won't get close enough to safe ground for the chicken to jump up and stun or peck them. Instead, the chicken must worm whip upwards and then jump off towards the spikes to stun the enemy, and then whip back up to move forward.

Later stages throw power-ups into the mix for added complexity. The jetpack bestows a double jump, but the stage can now be harder to accommodate and contest the ability. There's a balance of reflex-based platforming and critical thinking. Sometimes an unorthodox approach is necessary to proceed.

Screenshot for Chicken Wiggle on Nintendo 3DS

While defeating enemies with the peck comes off as the smartest overall option, the speed at which enemies move in and around each other may necessitate the need to stun. Since stunned enemies can be walked through, every encounter boils down to the decision of either quickly stunning or safely pecking.

At times, Chicken Wiggle feels like a "Best of" compilation of platforming's most iconic mechanics and design choices. Every world has its own setting to distinguish itself from the others, but it's the stages that carry a sense of individuality. As a result, it may feel like worlds are lacking in a cohesive identity, but the stages themselves come off feeling memorable and unique.

Despite the missing unity, levels do often reference each other. Formerly introduced gimmicks come back occasionally to play off of newly introduced ideas. It doesn't take long for vanishing blocks, breakable walls, and timed power-ups to start playing off one another.

A lack of original ideas in a platformer can be disappointing. The most innovative concept introduced is the worm's functionality as a whip and the chicken's ability to chip away at certain parts of the stage. Even then, those aren't exactly new ideas. That said, the inclusion of platforming staples are done tastefully enough and with their own quirks where the noticeable absence of design originality can be forgiven.

Screenshot for Chicken Wiggle on Nintendo 3DS

Since each world is only made up of six stages, the main game goes by rather quickly. There's a nice difficulty curve that never comes off as overwhelming, but it likewise doesn't elongate the single-player content. To offset this, there's a level creation system that's surprisingly more in-depth than the main content.

Every backdrop, every enemy, and every obstacle is available from the start for creation. There's no need to unlock anything, and there's really no need to even jump into the single-player right away since there are plenty of developer-created stages available at the gate.

These stages present a different, deeper level of challenge since they aren't tied to a story mode that slowly needs to build up its challenge and mechanics. On top of that, the custom stages have more objectives than just reaching the end of the stage. Suddenly, the gems and "FUN" orbs have an actual reason to be present.

More than anything, the stage creature feature shows off how much care goes into making the average platformer, which makes it even easier to appreciate everything Chicken Wiggle has to offer. Renegade Kid may no longer be around, but their spirit still lives on.

Screenshot for Chicken Wiggle on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Chicken Wiggle is a charming platformer that blends simplicity with sophistication into a cohesive whole. There may not be much in the way of originality outside of a slightly unique control scheme, but the "Best of" platforming feeling that the levels give off act as a reminder of not only the great platformers of yore, but how their mechanics have been refined since. Player-created stages add a much needed longevity to the short playtime and ensure that there will always be more chickens to rescue. For a game so ingrained in playing around with pre-existing design philosophies, Chicken Wiggle has a strong sense of self that other platformers should be envious of.

Developer

Atooi

Publisher

Atooi

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Jools and his team strike again! I really wish they'd pitch something to Nintendo. Something using a Shy Guy or a Goomba as the main character seems to spring to mind.

( Edited 16.08.2017 05:52 by Adam Riley )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Geoff (guest) 17.08.2017#2

"Every stage features 100 gems and three letters that spell out "FUN" to collect. As optional content within a level, they're rather standard additions. Their biggest pitfall is that there's no attempt to document these collectibles. Custom-created levels do give the option of making gem collection the win condition, but they're little more than a distraction in the main game."

The NW and SE corners of the level on the level select screen are colored yellow when both objectives are met on the same attempt. Otherwise, they're colored dark orange.

Jeffyg3 (guest) 19.08.2017#3

Does this have 3D stereoscopic effects? If I'm deciding wether to push the buy button, usually a game having the 3D stereoscopic effects will push me to get it more often than not. 

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