Published on June 30th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell1
A Review of Super Alfred Chicken: It’s SUPER Repetitive…
Year: 1994 // System: SNES, Game Boy // Publisher: Mindscape // Developer: Twilight // Designer: Jason McGann // Genre: Platformer
>>>2012 just seems to be the year of the Chicken. Earlier this year my uncle informed me of an old school farmer’s trick for testing new cooked meals to make sure they didn’t kill anybody: feed them to your chicken. If your chicken coup began to run low, then either you were just a hungry, greedy farmer, or someone in your household was a terrible cook. That’s not the only thing. This year I also learned what “choking your chicken” meant (yes, I know, I’m late to the party), I came across a graphic novel recreation of Ozma of Oz starring Bill the chicken as the cleverest character in the story (note: Bill is not a rooster…there’s a reason Dorothy calls her Billina), and recently Kohei released an Indie Box Live Indie Game that’s titled “Shooting Chicken: Brutal Suckers.” In case you really need an explanation as to what you do in that game, then here it is:
You’re a cute anime girl and you shoot chicken who are brutal suckers.
So this got me interested in combing through the NES library for a game or series of games that featured chicken. Well, I found one, but decided to take on the Super Nintendo version instead.
Ladies and gentleman, meet Alfred. He’s a chicken, and he has clucked his way across the Nintendo systems, Amiga, the CD32, and, in the PAL region only, the PlayStation.
As Alfred, you navigate your way through a whacky, futuristic labyrinth complete with wind-up mice and smiling snails coming for your feathers. Alfred can jump, thrust his beak into enemies by using Down on the D-pad while in the air, and pick up weapons, including projectiles and an orb that revolves around Alfred and kills whoever it touches. The jumping mechanics are extremely responsive and somewhat broken. At his peak Alfred can gently float towards the ground, and then immediately launch himself back up the minute his talons touch the surface. This ensures that 95% of the obstacles in the game will hardly pose as a threat to your main character.
Solving puzzles in terms of hitting certain buttons to clear walls in your path play a larger role in the latter levels, and give the player reason to backtrack (but not always). Certain means of turning sad-faced blocks happy or manipulating certain creatures to hit buttons for you never felt properly explained by the game mechanics themselves, OR by any hints the creators could have left lying around. Ultimately, these button-pressing puzzles only serve to take out a chunk of your time and give you reason to panic like a chicken, because really, the timer is the only imposing enemy in this title. Still, you run out of time, and you won’t start at the beginning, but rather at a designated checkpoint that’s close to where you last left off.
You reach the end of each level by making contact with a face-bearing flower and then beak-slamming the base of the flower to progress to the next stage. Occasionally you’ll come across bonus levels that allow you to earn extra lives (because it seems that the Super Nintendo was in the business of giving away free lives…at least that what’s I’ve gathered from the handful of SNES games I’ve played…). Within the stages themselves, you’ll come across doorways that lead to the next part of a level. You enter a doorway by standing in front of it and hitting up. Of course, without the manual, you have no way of knowing that until you try hitting Up, which may or may not be the first thing that comes to your mind of things to try.
The levels themselves are bland. They all blend together using the same repetitive, uninteresting scenery, and the stage designs themselves are simply boring to take on. They consist of several stretches of easy hops and yellow-bellied AI. The stages became trance-like until an underwater passage or insurmountable climb jetted you out of your warped state-of-mind. Playing as a chicken is one thing, but the world itself seemed like one of the last places I’d ever fantasize about visiting. How about designing a city, or a mystic landscape, or heck, even a farm or a desert?! I can’t make heads or tails of the “land” that Alfred Chicken must brave. It puts Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom to shame. Also, aside from the water and new enemy abilities later on, no new obstacles truly come along to give you new skills to master. Once you get a handle on the mechanics in the first two levels, you’re basically set, and that’s pretty much all you’ll ever have to worry about.
So I liked that in Alfred Chicken, you could play as a chicken. That’s it. Otherwise it was yet another lackluster platformer on the NES and Super Nintendo with repetitive design and few memorable or challenging moments.
Challenge: 4/10: The difficulty is quite lopsided. Either you’ll wipe out baddies and hop from stage to stage in cruise control, or you’ll come across those puzzle-solving moments where you need to sort of mash buttons (both in-game and on your controller) to activate events and move on to the next part of the stage. Most moments are insanely easy whereas a few standout points make it seem impossible for the player to keep going.
Handling: 7/10: The one aspect I did enjoy in SAC was its excellent movement. Alfred would go anywhere you told him to, whether on the ground, in mid-air, or underwater. Unfortunately, Alfred’s amazing abilities exaggerated the game’s challenge problems because the obstacles appeared ill-equipped to provide the universe’s bravest chicken with an effective counter.
Innovation: 6/10: Ladies and gentleman, you can now play through your typical maze-like side-scroller as a chicken now. The one thing I’ll admit having liked was the open nature of the levels and the idea that you could go backwards in the event you needed to hit the right button. Otherwise, nothing new.
Core Experience: 5/10: Music is so-so, graphics are nice but scenery is bland, and the level designs tend to run together. There’s a lot of game- 21 levels not counting bonus segments- but not enough variety to keep each level a fresh, new experience.
OVERALL: 5.5/Iffy: You should play this only if you want to play an old-school game about a chicken. Otherwise, there are far more interesting titles out there to sink your beak in.