July 26, 2009
Buena Vista Games
Windows, PlayStation 2, XBox
Chicken Little the movie is a computer animated triumph with engaging characters, hilarious moments and sophisticated, satirical concepts that appeal on different levels to both children and adults.
Chicken Little the game lays a big, fat grade C egg. It is an uninspired mishmash of mini-games, scenes that assume you have a familiarity with the movie and sloppy programming. Now I will admit upfront that I am not the sought after demographic for this game, but still I’ve never yet been accused of acting my age.
The beginning of the movie sets the tone with an inspired retelling of the Chicken Little legend. At the beginning of the game we watch as Chicken Little is scoffed at and ridiculed as he attempts to reach his school. But it is never made clear exactly why Chicken Little is made to suffer so. Instead, it is as though the developers automatically assume that the gamer has already either seen the movie or is familiar with the story (yes, I know that the Chicken Little ‘mythos’ would seem to be common knowledge, but c’mon, lay the groundwork for the rest of the game!).
What follows upon reaching the schoolyards, are eighteen levels of gameplay, each of which will be familiar to anyone who has played any amount of console games. There is not a whit of originality as it seems each level exists only to follow the progression of the film and open another movie clip. Instead of the game establishing its own identity, I too often found myself comparing a level to Sonic the Hedgehog or Psychonauts or any number of other, better games.
Totally fowl though is poor programming that drains the game’s minimal enjoyment. Some areas – such as Backyard Pursuit – are too dark and have poor camera angles that cannot be corrected and turn already difficult jumps into blind luck. Most unforgivable of all though is shoddy programming that allows your character to fall from high ledges, building tops, etc. if you make one wrong step and thus necessitate restarting from a checkpoint – how 1990’s. What is supposed to be light-hearted fun is instead feather-plucking frustration.
Maybe I’m being a little too harsh, after all the game was probably meant to do nothing more than ride the coattails of the movie’s success. But the days of insipid movie games have passed and even younger gamers expect better. This is one piece of poultry that deserves a visit from the Colonel.
Final Grade: C-