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Monday, February 11, 2013

NES Replay: Alfred Chicken

Developer: Twilight
Publisher: Mindscape
Released: 1994
Number of times I use the word "chicken"
in this review: 12
In NES Replay, we go through each NES game from A-Z to see if they're any good. Today: Alfred Chicken.

There's no reason that Sonic needs to be a hedgehog. It's kind of strange: We're so used to Sonic being a hedgehog that we never think about what a weird choice it really is for the character.

Let's think about it. I can't say I'm an expert on hedgehogs, but I've never personally seen a blue hedgehog that's obsessed with gold rings. I'm also not so sure that they can run fast either. The "Hedgehog" in "Sonic the Hedgehog" could have been replaced with any number of rodents: Muskrat, vole, ferret. It doesn't really matter. His "hedgehog-ness" isn't really an integral part of his character.

That brings us to Alfred Chicken. I expected something similar, another hop-and-bop platformer with a character that's a chicken but for no real reason. Imagine my surprise when Alfred's "chicken-ness" (chickanity?) actually is a part of gameplay.

God, not the typical "blocks, spikes and
wooden soldier" level. What a cliche.
Alfred Chicken is a platform game where you navigate large levels in search of balloons. When you've released all the balloons, the level is over. While that may not be a very chicken-like idea, the way he goes through the levels is more chicken-y. Alfred collects the balloons by pecking the buttons, he can't really fly, and he can only kill enemies by dive-bombing beak-first. It's odd that making a character reflect his animal background is a rarity, but that's how things are with game mascots.

There are a few other notable things about Alfred Chicken. The graphics are good, although I would expect nothing less of a game released as the NES neared the end of its lifespan. For example, there are a few locations where you'll see a bunch of stars spinning around in patterns, and it looks really cool. It's an effect that I didn't think the NES could pull off, but it manages to do so without flickering or tearing, so that was neat.

The levels are also pretty cool. Instead of having the typical Mario-esque "grass world, desert world, water world" progression, the levels don't necessarily have a set theme. It seems like that freed up the developers to try new things without worrying, "Hey, does this make sense in a desert?" There are also multiple stages to each of the levels, so they're fairly in-depth.

So what's the problem with Alfred Chicken? Well, while Alfred Chicken controls well and the levels are well-made, there are only five levels total in the game, from start to finish. Five! Each of the levels is rather long, but still, five levels? That's absolutely pathetic. I can't imagine buying this game back in the day, just starting to get into it, and then having it end. Oh, wait, that happened to me with a different game, and I harbored a grudge for years afterwards.

While Alfred Chicken is fun, I can't in good conscience recommend it. I understand that Super Alfred Chicken for the Super Nintendo has more levels, so if playing a videogame as a chicken really excites you, maybe you should seek that one out instead. That is, of course, unless you're chicken.

Final Rating:


Next Week: Alien Syndrome