Review: Chicken Rider (Switch)

A bad egg.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 05/29/2019 19:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Nice cartoony visuals; lots of cosmetic customization
Poison Mushroom for...
Poorly balanced free-to-play economy in a paid game; uninspired gameplay; repetitive music; frustrating frame rate hiccups; a lax mobile port

Back when the mobile gaming market really started taking off, endless runners seemed to become the go-to genre for would-be developers. Given the limited nature of smartphone inputs and the incipience of the market of the time, this trend actually made sense and, in fact, some of them were even pretty good. However, the genre and mobile gaming in general have matured, so it begs the question why a game likeĀ Chicken RiderĀ exists nowadays. More important, though, is the question of why it exists on Switch for actual money.

The setup is that you take control of a chicken being ridden by a polar bear as it tries to escape some sort of farm/factory setting. No real explanation is given, then again, for this type of game, it really isn’t needed. From there, you automatically run to the right and jump to avoid incoming obstacles like boxes, missiles, and enemies trying to catch the feathered fugitive. Along the way, there are coins and seeds to collect with the former letting you buy an assortment of upgrades and cosmetics and the latter refilling a depleting stamina meter you need to keep topped off. So, you just keep running right as long as you can until you hit an obstacle, get grabbed by an enemy, or run out of stamina. That’s pretty much the whole game.

The upgrades are the only other aspect to the gameplay; some are acquired during runs while others are purchased through the in-game store. The mid-game goodies include things like lawnmowers, which destroy obstacles immediately ahead of you, football helmets, which allow you to take an extra hit, or skateboards, which momentarily make you faster and invulnerable. There are more, but they are spread too far out in levels, making their general absence quite annoying. You can also buy one-time use upgrades to apply to runs in the store with your hard-earned coins, but they are expensive enough that they never feel worth the cost, even considering the large number of coins thrown your way. Because of this poorly balanced system, much of the game just boils down to the standard endless-running and jumping. Surprisingly, the jumping doesn’t even feel that good.

In fact, looking at the price of everything in the in-game store, you quickly get the impression everything was balanced as though it were a free-to-play game on an app store, which makes sense because that’s what the game is. The menu layout and icons are a dead giveaway. Even with coins coming in constantly, buying everything is such a grind that it makes sense that other iterations of the game would tempt you to spend real money. Instead, Switch players get to spend $3.99 and grind endlessly.

If one positive thing can be said about Chicken Rider, it’s that the visuals are pretty nice. Everything has a cute and humorous cartoony aesthetic that adequately captures the absurd concept of a small polar bear liberating a chicken from a farm protected by missiles. However, even with simple, 2D sprite based visuals, the game still encounters occasional drops in framerate that go by quickly but are noticeable and, when encountered at an inopportune time, can ruin a run.

The sound isn’t very good either. The effects are simple, yet annoying, and the music really boils down to one song that is played slowly in the menus and then at a faster tempo during the game. If you like twangy, repetitive bluegrass, then you might not hate it.

Ultimately, Chicken Rider really has no excuse existing on Switch, at least not in its current form. Were the game’s economy balanced to reflect its current status as a normal retail product, then it would at least seem somewhat justified. Though the uninspired gameplay and middling execution wouldn’t exactly make it a must play. Heck, even if you were looking for an endless runner on mobile, there are much better options. So, even if the price came down to free, Chicken Rider would be tough to recommend.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!