- John Bush
Game Review #295: Chicken Rider (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Steven G.
Developer: Red Dev Studio
Publisher: Ultimate Games S.A.
Category: Endless Runner
Release Date: 05.17.2019
Price (At Time of Review): $3.99
Buy Chicken Rider from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Polar Bear / Chicken Mayhem
Chicken Rider is an endless runner mobile port for the Nintendo Switch that features the wacky team-up of a polar bear and a chicken in order to fight for animal freedom and escape after setting off an alarm. This classic mobile genre offers high flying action and a ton of customization to the outfit of our rambunctious hero, Polar Bear. For any endless runner aficionados this may be something that tickles your fancy.
Hop, Jump, and Avoid
As is customary with endless runner games, the gameplay consists of your character continuously moving forward while you avoid obstacles. This title simplifies things by making your only control the jump feature, in comparison to other titles like Temple Run where you change direction as well. This allows you to focus in on avoiding the enemies and obstacles that are racing towards you, which is helpful with this title. Certain chickens (or mounts) allow for different traits, and items you can find on the map change up the abilities you have as well, but most of this game is jumping over things you don’t want to run in to.
When it comes to variety, this game offers some fun ways to spice things up, as the basic jumping model can get monotonous. You have various chickens you can switch between, as mentioned, that allow your chicken to have different abilities. These abilities include things like double jump, faster chickens, and chickens that can barrel through some enemies. You also have items that randomly spawn on the map like the magnet that allows you to grab all the coins you get close to, and the skateboard that gives you the ability to smash through enemies and obstacles for a certain distance. There is also one time use upgrades that you can purchase with the in-game currency that have varying effects.
The goat upgrade, for example, is a little bit more just for fun as it turns all the bad guys into funny looking goats, or there are the rocket upgrades that allow you to shoot forward in the level, bypassing huge chunks at a time. The culmination of all these upgrades, items, and abilities make for a decent amount of change to the gameplay loop, but individually these areas are not very flushed out. The number of items and upgrades isn’t very large, but thrown in together allows for enough for you to feel like something more is going on. Bosses at the end of “levels” allow for an interesting change to the mechanics. The mount changes are where the game really shines, as these expensive upgrades change your strategy fundamentally.
When it comes to acquiring the in-game currency I wanted to mention that everything is done here through coins that are earned during gameplay. There are no micro-transactions in this version of the game as they were removed for the Nintendo Switch version. And on that note, that makes earning enough coins to make purchases unbalanced. On an average run I earned anywhere from 500-2000 coins depending on how far I made it and how many items or upgrades I used, and the mounts, for example, range in price from 30,000 to 180,000 coins. Cosmetics for the Polar Bear are also 15,000 to 50,000 coins each.
You also gain loot boxes that randomly spawn on the map, and the keys needed to open these loot boxes start at 30,000 and go up to 70,000 coins. These mechanics are definite leftovers from the mobile version where you would be encouraged to spend real money on coins, however without that ability present here we have a grind that is hard to achieve, killing some of the coolest variation to gameplay. Either that or you would have to get very good at the game in order to make full runs and begin to roll in the coins.
Jump and Nothing Else
The one mechanic of the game, besides the above-mentioned variations, is to jump to avoid obstacles. This simplification to the game is a definite strong suit, as it allows you to focus in and really learn what you are doing. However, it does leave something to be desired as there isn’t the ability to change jump distance, as is present in some games, based on duration of button press. Press lightly or hold it down; you jump the same distance. This isn’t necessarily a negative, as you can more easily learn your jump distance this way, but I found the want to be able to change jump distance quite often as things come up on you quite quickly and often I would hit obstacles or enemies just entering the screen because I was already in the air and couldn’t change my trajectory. Luckily, the double jump allowed for some saving grace on this, but the same problem was present if you just used your second jump. Other mounts and items allow for better avoidance measures, but as mentioned, the grind to get there is a little rough.
Cartoon Network: The Game
The art style in this game reminded me a lot of Cartoon Network classics, and it was pleasant to look at. I will say that the great artwork present in this game is lost a bit with the mechanics being an endless runner. Things are whirling past you so quickly that you have a hard time getting to enjoy what is going on around you, and because things are so busy with really, truly good artwork, it detracts from your ability to avoid the obstacles. Knowing what is good and bad, since you can run through some items but not others and those mechanics aren’t taught to you, adds to the busy screen. You just have to crash and learn.
And, as mentioned above, with the controls not allowing for variation in your jump pattern and things being so busy and uncertain, I found the early stages of this game while learning what is what and how to properly control the game quite frustrating. But, after some time, this is a nice endless runner on the visual end. Different levels that you traverse as you progress allow for some much-needed change to the scenery, as with games like this you get very familiar with what you are seeing with how many runs you make over and over.
Chicken Rider offers exceptional endless runner gameplay with it’s simplification of the mechanics, but a little fine tuning to those mechanics is needed to really allow for this game to take the cake as a top tier endless runner title. The visuals are there, the upgrade and mount systems are there, achievements add some spice, but I found the early game frustration and slow grind for coins something that stood in the way of this game being incredible. I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes endless runners, and at the low price it is worth a look if you are into that genre, but for anyone who isn’t a mobile gamer or is looking for more variety than what I detail above this is probably something you can pass on for the time being.
Buy Chicken Rider from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Ultimate Games S.A.