Finding a good game adaptation of a popular kid's flick is near impossible. Finding an excellent one is near miraculous. Finding a decent one, though, that's manageable. And that's precisely what Chicken Little from developer Avalanche is. It's not great in any one particular area, but overall it's far better than most games engineered to cash in on popular movies. And for those that don't know, Chicken Little is Disney's new computer animated retelling of the popular kid's story about a young chicken who believes the sky is falling.
He warns his friends and neighbors about the impending doom, but when the sky doesn't fall, he's shunned and made the object of town-wide mockery. In the new movie, Chicken Little's prophesy actually does come true and the Earth comes under attack by a menacing alien force. It's then up to Mr. Little and his band of misfits to save the Earth. The story is pretty funny, actually, and it's told well in the game through a generous amount of footage from the movie. It definitely has more FMV cutscenes than the average movie tie-in, so those who loved the movie will dig that part of the game.
As for the game itself, it's an action platformer that boasts a nice variety of play styles. Since Chicken Little is an Avalanche-developed title, the action will seem a little familiar to fans of the Tak series. And as Tak fans know, that's in no way an insult. In fact, the Tak series is probably one of the brightest entries in the platformer genre today. But before you start thinking Chicken Little is Tak with a different look, it's not. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because, well, not one likes a copycat. Bad because the differences aren't so hot. The Tak series looks and plays better, for instance. It feels like Chicken Little shipped a little too early and could have benefited from a little extra polish.
Still, the game offers an above-average experience when you consider its competition. Here's a quick recap of the game's opening to illustrate the point. The game starts with Chicken Little trying to catch a school bus. This sequence introduces you to basic controls such as jumping, double jumping and attacking things with your trusty yo-yo. A large portion of the level takes place on a mountain overlooking Chicken Little's school, so you'll need make your way over chasms, streams and large boulders.
Most of these obstacles call for a simple jump or double jump, but you'll be doing a lot of climbing as well. For whatever reason, a series of pipes snake through the hillside, so you need to use them as makeshift slides to progress through the level. If you're thinking "skateboard grinding" then you're right because that's exactly what it is. These platformer sequences are fun, and while they're not as challenging or as inventive as what's in, say the Jak and Daxter series, it's still pretty decent. The game also boasts a number of inventions and gadgets to play with. The first gadget you acquire in the game is a bottle of soda. Not too exciting, but a bottle of pop in the world of Chicken Little translates to super-powered jetpack. In order to score the jetpack, however, you need to find 20 coins scattered throughout the stage. Once you find the coins, a quick jog to a nearby vending machine (located outside Chicken Little's school) wins you soda/ cool jetpack. This triggers a quasi on-rails flying sequence where you need to steer Chicken Little clear of obstacles and through tunnels. While the control feels a little stiff, dodging obstacles through town is good fun. You can also collect a number of power ups, coins and acorns along way which adds a little extra challenge for those that want it.
Later, you can play a baseball game through a series of fun, quick mini-games. The game starts with you hitting the appropriate buttons in time with scrolling icons on the screen. It's your basic music-style, rhythm-focused mini-game. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but it still keeps the experience fresh. There's also a driving sequence in the game where you need to drive around town completing errands. You need to follow a series of arrows scattered about a map in order to find specific items, deliver newspapers and even collect potted plants. Like most other styles of gameplay, this sequence is nothing truly riveting but it's still fun and it keeps things fresh.
The game also includes a bunch of unlockable mini-games that are surprisingly fun to play. You unlock them by collecting cards scattered about different stages. It's actually somewhat challenging finding them all, but it's very worth it. One of the mini-games plays like an old-school top-down space shooter. The action is fast, fun and it even looks pretty cool too. Another mini-game has you piloting a strange multi-legged droid thing with an oversized cannon. Your objective: blast everything in sight. It's mindless and entertaining, just like a good mini-game should be.
About the only problems that may annoy concern the erratic camera and somewhat funky controls. The camera sometimes gets suck behind walls and certain objects, for instance, so there are certain times where death is near unavoidable. As far as the controls go there are a number of instances where you'll miss a few jumps or plummet to your doom. Just know it's not totally your fault.
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