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Chicken Shoot Box Art
Frontline Studios, Inc.
Destination Software, Inc. (DSI)

Chicken Shoot

The box art for Chicken Shoot is pure brilliance. The centerpiece of the design is a large, clearly desperate chicken that evokes the likes of Chicken Run, with eyes like Wile E. Coyote after he realizes he’s about to plummet a thousand feet. This is the sort of box art that the well-meaning grandparent will spot on the shelf, say “this looks fun,” delight in a $30 budget price tag among all the $50 fare, conclude that it is a win-win situation, and scoop it up for a young Wii owner, if not for themselves.

What that buyer might not realize, from looking at the cover, is that Chicken Shoot is the descendent of a defunct Flash game. Such a buyer might also be unaware that the developer -- Frontline Studios, a Polish company specializing in budget fare -- opted to port over the basic Flash game experience without adding any meaningful new content or even much of a facelift, if at all. The result is that Chicken Shoot fails to provide enough separation from the free fare available online to justify even a $30 budget price point.

Chicken Shoot sports the graphics level of a Flash game, which in practical terms means that it probably could have run on the original PlayStation. This is unfortunate because the art style is actually quite good; the characters are expressive and funny (especially the farmer, who eyes all the chickens in the game’s foreground), the backgrounds are varied, and the overall look displays a lot of charm. The problem is that the game fails to supplement that simple look with smooth animations and polish, as Wii Sports did. The chickens in Chicken Shoot move across the screen with jerky frame animations and the backgrounds are simple stills without any real motion or dynamic quality.

The sound in the game generally hits the mark. The various levels each have unique soundtracks, and most of them are either respectable or pretty funny. Some levels sport simple folk tunes, while others rely on drums or exotic instruments. One notable example is the decidedly politically-incorrect desert level, which rocks with resonant drums and memorable chants. Other levels achieve varying degrees of success, but all of them manage pretty well.

The sound effects also come together nicely. Each of the game’s weapons giving off a distinctive sound, with the shotgun and chain gun proving to be particularly visceral experiences. The chickens and other shootable objects give off some interesting death cackles, some of which are quite funny. Adding to the atmosphere is game’s protagonist, the farmer, who grunts or hums in sadistic satisfaction after downing the fowls.

Everything Chicken Shoot has to offer can be experienced in about an hour. There are two primary game modes, arcade mode and classic mode. Both modes can be played with one or two players and have three difficulty settings, although for some reason the multiplayer versions do not allow for setting the difficulty. Both modes put the player(s) in nine varied levels where the simple purpose is to shoot as much as possible. In arcade mode, each stage requires that the player shoot a given number of birds, and once that number is reached a sparkling bird appears that, when shot, brings the stage to an end. (In the arcade mode, the player can be hit and eventually killed by flying eggs and chickens, although in practice it is pretty hard to actually die.) In classic mode, the player is racing against a countdown timer to advance through as many levels as possible. Chicken Shoot saves high scores next to player names in the Wii system memory, so there is some incentive to come back and best a previous high score.

As a side note, there is one “mini-game” included in Chicken Shoot. The game is called catch the egg, and the object is to move the farmer one of six different directions to try and catch eggs in a basket as they fall out of chickens. The controls are difficult enough and the eggs fall quickly enough that the game is nearly unplayable for any length of time.

The game does a few other things to keep things interesting. Both game modes offer various power-ups, most notably a collection of weapons such as shotguns, machine guns, and a very satisfying chain gun. Bombs (which destroy all the enemies on screen), clocks (which add time to the countdown timer in classic mode), and food (which replenishes health in arcade mode) round out the possible items one can collect.

Inevitably, though, the game wears out its welcome, as there is just not much to do. A single play session is over quite quickly and there is little incentive to come back other than besting a previous high score. During the game, the actual number of targets on the screen at any one time is usually few, and so a lot of time is spent panning around the screen trying to find a moving object; this is a hassle in and of itself, as the screen pans slowly and it is all-too-easy to lose the reticule off the edges of the screen.

In the spirit of the Wii’s mission to reach the casual audience, this reviewer opted to playtest Chicken Shoot’s multiplayer component with a more casual gamer. The multiplayer is essentially the same as the single-player experience, except with a split screen. Both players compete for a high score by scrapping to shoot anything and everything on-screen.

The multiplayer experience has its virtues and vices. The split screen mode is a little small, but it is adequate, and the gameplay is accessible enough to a casual gamer that the learning curve is relatively short. Unfortunately, though, the game fails to scale up the number of targets for the multiplayer affair. What that means, in effect, is that there are so few chickens to be shot that a multiplayer game involves far too little shooting and far too much panning around the small half for targets to shoot. Because the screen size is smaller, too, it is far too easy to lose IR recognition and thus lose the reticule off the screen.

Chicken Shoot would have been a nice $5 WiiWare title. The art style is clever and sometimes elicits a laugh. The sound matches that pace with a lighthearted soundtrack and some nice sound effects. The gameplay, while short, is accessible, and casual gamers (and even more open-minded hardcore gamers) of all ages could probably get some value out of the game.

The problem is that Chicken Shoot isn’t $5. It is a $30 game -- the same price as Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. The larger problem, still, is that the game fails where other games with Flash origins have succeeded; namely, to create a console-specific experience that cannot be found simply in a Web browser. Chicken Shoot is a one-trick pony that simply doesn’t offer enough to keep it in the Wii for more than a few hours before winding up gathering dust on a shelf, which should not be the case with a retail title. Because of that, Chicken Shoot is a hard game to recommend for purchase, at least until it winds up in the bargain bin.

final score 4.0/10

Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
Staff Profile | Email
"Round 1! Fight!"

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