Review: Bomb Chicken
Posted 22 Jul 2018 at 14:36 by Adam Hirst
Back in March Nintendo held one of it's Indie Directs to showcase a few up and coming games for the Switch. The actual Direct was very short and had very little to get excited about. However, there was a game that stood out from what was shown and that was Bomb Chicken. Many people loved the look of the game and it saved the show for them. Was this worth getting excited for? Were Nintendo right to give it a spotlight in their Direct? Why did the chicken plant the bomb? Let's find out the answers.
There isn't any real story to speak off. The game starts off with an egg being coated by some kind of magical blue liquid and once the egg hatches a very plump looking chicken pops out. Instead of laying eggs the chicken lays bombs. It's now up to the player to guide the chicken on its adventure and escape the factory that has been killing its kind for food. It all feels very much like a simplified version of Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey but it works for what it is.
Once the chicken has been hatched the game then tells you how to move and plant a bomb. It's a very simple setup, with the direction pad and control stick giving movement to the chicken and every button on the joycon being used to plant a bomb. With these two simple actions it's up to the player to make their way through the game. The limited options is very deceiving. You would think that the game would be quite basic with only being able to move and plant a bomb (you can't even jump) but that certainly isn't the case.
The way the game is designed around the limited moveset is very clever. Even though the chicken can't jump that doesn't mean to say that there is no platforming involved with the game. For example, if you need to get from platform to platform then you must walk to the edge and lay bombs on top of one another. Your chicken will always stay on top of the bomb (as if sitting on an egg) and every bomb you lay will stack on top of the previous one. This gives your chicken height, which then means it can walk off of the top bomb and land safely over to the next platform. Using this method means you can cross gaps and climb up stairs. You do need to be careful while doing this, though. The bombs have a set amount of time before they explode. If you are stacking them then the first one you put down will eventually go off and cause a chain reaction, so you do have to be mindful of how high you stack and how much time you give yourself.
As well as using the stacking technique you can also kick the bombs. Again, just by using the basic movements, the game gives you another way to get through the various levels. Various blocks are scattered through the game and these can be blow up with your bombs, obviously. However, sometimes these blocks will be blocking your path but the ceiling is too low to lay a bomb. You must find a space for where you can lay your bomb and then walk into it in the direction you want it to roll in and away it will go. You can also do this when you have stacked the bombs. Let's say you lay a total of 6 bombs, you can then fall off from the top, land next to the bottom bomb and then kick it to move the whole stack. You can even do this in the middle of the stack as you are falling. Whichever bomb you kick, whether it's the bottom one or ones in the middle, the one you hit and all those above it will be moved.
Fried chicken, anyone?
There are a few enemies kicking about the various stages. Like most games, the ones at the start of the game are easily dealt with but the ones in the later levels require more thought. Most of the early enemies can be killed by either rolling a bomb at them or falling on their head from a platform or a high stack of bombs that you've made. Later enemies will often only get stunned by your bombs and it's a question of using that time to get away, rather than going on the offensive. In terms of larger enemies, there are 2 boss battles in the game. One is around the halfway mark and the other is the final boss. Both require a bit of thinking at first but once you realise what is needed to be done then you will dispatch them pretty fast. Despite this, I do think that both are fun battles.
Outside of simply making your way to the exits of all 29 stages there are a things to collect. Blue gems are often hidden in secret rooms, in plain sight or hiding in breakable blocks. Some of the rooms are very well hidden and are often home to some on the more fiendishly clever puzzles. If you happen to miss any of these in a level then there's no need to worry because you can replay any of the stages again in order to grab them. When you go to the level select the game lets you know if you are still needing to find any of the gems in a level. If everything has been collected then the gem colour by the level number will be blue but if you have missed some then the colour will be green. It's a nice little indication for those who are wanting to 100% the game.
So, why would you go out of your way to collect these? Well, when you complete a stage you will be sent to a screen that allows you to transfer these gems into a large statue. Give the statue the amount it is asking for and it will reward you will another heart/life. You start off the game with a very low amount of hearts. When you die you respawn back in the same room you died in but when you lose all of your lives you go back to the start of level. As a side note, even though you go all the way back, the game lets you keep any gems that you have already obtained. So, as you can see, it's in your best interest to pick up as many gems as you can in order for you to have more chances in a room without being kicked right back to the start.
Ever wonder how McNuggets are made?
A lot of people fell in love with the game when it was first shown thanks to the visuals of the game. I'm happy to say that the game doesn't disappoint in this regard. The 2D sprite work looks great and the little animations, whether it's just the chicken bobbing along, the bomb pulsating as it's about to explode or the way the enemies move about the screen, everything looks fantastic. Sadly, while the visuals are up to scratch I don't think the music in the game is that special at all. The boss battle tune is fine but the music in the levels is quite forgettable. It's not a major problem but it's certainly something that could be improved upon.
At release the game is priced at £11.99. Depending on how you play the game will no doubt have an effect on if you think it's worth the money. If you were to just run through the stages, trying to get to the exit in as fast as time as possible, without worrying about any of the gems, then I imagine players may clock (cluck) the game in around 2-3 hours. They may feel a little short changed if that is the case. If you were to spend the time and effort in finding what secrets the game has on offer then you will be easily doubling that play time. For me, it was certainly worth the admission fee.
This game has honestly been a big surprise for me. The developers who made the game go by the name of Nitrome and are based here in the UK. Apparently they have been making mobile and flash games for a while now and this is their first shot at making a game on the Switch. Needless to say that I am very happy with the game and they should be quite proud of the product they have released. In a recent interview on Reddit, the developers said how they were hoping that players who bought the game would be able to put down Octopath Traveler long enough in order to play their game. This is exactly what I was doing. The game is set out in such a way that it is great for a pick up and play session in between other games. Also, the developers have said that if the game does well then they make look at creating more levels as DLC. They also mentioned that they are in talks with certain people about getting a physical release sorted at some point. I imagine Limited Run Games are the guys they are talking to. I'll certainly be keep an eye out for it's release, as well as any other projects that they plan to release on Nintendo's hybrid.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Lately the eShop has started become very crowded with games that are quick cash grabs, broken or just flat out shovelware. This game isn't any of those things and its a reminder of what the eShop can be used for if a game is created with passion, creativity and care. While the adventure maybe be a short affair if you decide to critical path the game, those who take the time to collect all the gems and find the hidden paths will get the most out of this and they will see some of the more tricky puzzles and platforming that the game has to offer. This is certainly worth the money and I hope more people give it a try in the near future.
Has a nice level of challenge
Music in the stages is lacking
Makes you crave a bucket of KFC