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by THQ

crscreen1.jpg (4965 bytes)The comparisons between Chicken Run for the GBC and Metal Gear Solid are inevitable. Both games require you to use stealth and an array of tools to get the mission done. Graphically the two are also quite similar: clean but not showy. It would be unfair to evaluate Chicken Run using Metal Gear as the standard. The poultry comes up just a little too lean when they’re placed side by side.

crscreen4.jpg (4508 bytes)Chicken Run does, however, have one of the most exciting franchises as its source material. It was by far the most entertaining movie of last summer. I had high expectations of the Wallace and Grommit team, and they did not disappoint. A good game from such quirky source material is no mean feat. And although the developers at Blitz Games don’t do a disservice to the folks at Aardman, they were unable to make a game that really engaged my imagination like the movie. Chicken Run is one of the best film to video game translations that I’ve played on the Game Boy Color, but I haven’t yet played a movie video game on the Game Boy that I’ve liked.

In the game you are Ginger, a single voice for freedom lost amidst the clucks of conformity. Your goal is to lead your feathered compatriots safely out of Tweedy’s farm and pie machine. Because reason won’t get you anywhere with these chickens, you’re forced to lead them by the beak by creating a trail of chicken feed for them to follow. Besides the chicken feed there are a number of tools like spoons, mirrors, and springboards that you need to use to get from point A to B. I like games where the goal is something other than destruction (I like destruction too, just not all the time). No one gets shot in Chicken Run. I guess the potential of chicken piedom is a big enough threat for these critters.

crscreen2.jpg (5049 bytes)Each mission is prefaced by some rather elaborate instructions regarding the goals for the level and exactly how to use the various tools located on that level. This may be a problem of giving too much help. One of the great satisfactions that came from playing Metal Gear Solid (I know I shouldn’t compare the two) on my GBC was figuring out exactly how to best use all of tools in my inventory. The tutorials kind of take that satisfaction away from you. The box advertises 20 levels, which may seem like a lot, but they are all relatively short and similar. And even though you’re using different tools and techniques to shepherd the masses, each level feels a little too much like the one before.

The AI for the Chicken drones is either really well done, or really frustrating. I can’t decide. These Chickens are just plain stupid, and, like Ginger, I found myself shaking my head at their pea-sized intellects. How hard can it be to follow a trail of chicken feed? In some instances it appears to be incredibly difficult. After playing this game, I watched the movie on DVD and I found myself a lot more sympathetic to Ginger’s plight. I knew what it was like to be a visionary amidst featherbrained fowl.

crscreen3.jpg (4843 bytes)This game is better than most games for the Game Boy Color, but that’s not exactly giving it a seal of approval. I’m having a hard time getting too excited about Chicken Run the Game because after the first few levels I felt like I played the entire game. It was better than I expected but not as good as I hoped for. I liked the graphics and controls, but the levels just seemed to get repetitive after awhile and sometimes I found myself wanting to lead Chickens into the oven instead of to freedom. It’s a testament to Ginger’s good heart that she didn’t leave them all behind, but as for me—I guess I’m more of an "every chicken for himself" kind of guy.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Good game concept; does a good job retelling movie; requires stealth and cunning.

Downs: Repetitive levels; are chickens that dumb?

System Reqs:
Game Boy Color

 

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