There are a few developers I follow very closely. Yacht Club Games (Shovel Knight) and Gajin Games (Bit.Trip series) are two of the three that come to mind right off the bat. The one we are going to focus on today, Atooi, founded by Jools Watsham, is another of those devs. He is best known for Mutant Mudds, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, and Xeodrifter. He is one of those devs that I believe in so much that I will buy his games multiple times across multiple consoles.
I followed the development of his latest game, Chicken Wiggle, very closely. Anytime he makes a new game announcement I get excited. So naturally, when he announced a platformer with unique mechanics in the vain of Mutant Mudds (even with some crossover characters), I was sold.
But then something unfortunate happened for Chicken Wiggle. The release of the Nintendo Switch. Why was the Switch bad for this game? Well, Chicken Wiggle is an amazing 2D platformer. However, it released on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems after the launch of the Switch. After so many gamers (myself included) moved on to the Switch, and left their poor 3DS systems to gather dust in the corner.
Jools posted a very well written blog post about how he was disappointed in Chicken Wiggle’s lack of sales, despite everyone giving it fantastic review scores across the board. He was wondering if possibly the launch of the Switch was hindering the sales of the game. Now, I do not speak for everyone and I have no knowledge of this game’s sales. What I do have, however, is a Switch, and my personal experiences with that device. And for me, owning a Switch was the reason. I had every intention of picking up the game but never did.
Jools was kind enough to send Infendo a review copy, and I am so happy he did. It gave me the incentive I needed to spend some time with my old handheld friend: My red New 3DS XL with my green Zelda faceplate attached. My old friend that I’ve spent so many hours playing. And thank goodness I picked it back up.
Chicken Wiggle is what I would consider a puzzle-platformer. The goal is to get from the beginning of each stage to the end. The main character is a bird, with the ability to peck. In his backpack is a worm that gives him a whip like ability he can use to stick to walls, move around, and stun enemies. Together, they are nigh unstoppable. The game itself is relatively easy, but there are challenges presented in the form of ‘gold corners’ on the level select screen that can be achieved by meeting certain requirements. And for completionists like myself, getting the gold corners on each stage’s button is quite challenging. It requires craft and cunning. In every level the letters “F” “U” and “N” are expertly hidden, waiting for you to find them. And boy, are some of them difficult to find. I spent 30 minutes or so on the SECOND LEVEL, just trying to find the second letter. It was intense. It was so rewarding once I finally found it too. However, getting your gold corners requires you to not only collect all 3 letters, but to also collect all 100 diamonds in each level. The corners only light up once you have done both of those in the same run. Sounds much simpler than it is.
There are also level specific power ups that change the flow of the game that are a welcome change. There was one power up that changed you into a ghost so you could pass through solid hazards. There was another one that let you wear a hard hat which enables you to peck through solid walls and destroy them. It is about a 10 hour campaign to complete the game from start to finish, with a one hundred percent completion rating. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. This game also features a Mario Maker style level creator. The same creator, in fact, that Jools used to create the entire game in. At the time of writing, there are somewhere between three and four hundred fan created levels in this game.
I was never much of a level creation master, even in Mario Maker. So I did not ever complete the creation of a level in this game. However, seeing what the community created has been simply amazing. One thing I have come to appreciate in Mario Maker, that a lot of people complained about, was the fact that they only give you X amount of tools a day to learn how to use. That way you are not overwhelmed, and are comfortable using them before the next set is unlocked. This game has everything unlocked from the get go, but I found that to be rather intimidating. I did not know where to start, and I think that was why I never finished building my level.
One way this game does excel over Mario Maker, is that it’s levels are shareable online. Jools listened to everyone’s criticism about Mario Maker 3DS, and learned. Something I think all developers should do. It creates goodwill with your fan base, and makes them feel like their voices matter, which can only be good for business.
At $14.99, for all the content it offers both online and offline, Chicken Wiggle is a steal, and a must have for any 3DS owner, new or lapsed. While I personally find the level editor overwhelming, there is a large community who evidently does not, and they are continuously creating new levels that are free to download.