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Chicken Little Review

Developer: Buena Vista Games Publisher: Buena Vista Games
Release Date: October 18, 2005 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2, and Xbox

You know the old adage. With every children’s movie must be a licensed video game. Such seems to be the rule, and Chicken Little is no exception. With a console game as well as this GBA game, Chicken Little has gotten the normal treatment for a children’s movie, and has gotten it, at least in the case of the handheld title, in a very competent way.

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The GBA version of Chicken Little is actually three games in one: a dodgeball game, a platformer, and a racing game. The only exception is the fact that there is one dodgeball level and one racing level in the platforming game, which essentially is a story mode of sorts. Since the three are different only in gameplay, I will cover the graphics and sound of the three together and cover the gameplay separately.

The graphics in this game are actually pretty good. They look significantly like the movie, given what screens of the movie I’ve been able to see on commercials. They aren’t photorealistic by any means, but they convey very well the feel that they mean to convey. This is true for all three modes. My only complaint would be the slight cutesiness of the graphics if it weren’t for the fact that I’d bet the movie follows the same animation style, so I essentially have no major complaints.

The same can be said of the music. Although it is very much typical children’s game fare, it still maintains an element of catchiness to it that makes it pleasant to listen to, but not up to the point of addictiveness by any means. The sound effects aren’t anything too untraditional either, but they get the job done well enough that the target audience for this game should be more than satisfied. I don’t have any major complaints here either.

And now for the gameplay. Before I begin discussing the three game modes, I should mention that you can collect acorns in all three of them that can be spent in unlocking upgrades for aspects of them. This adds a bit of replay value for the game as you seek to unlock the best options in the games, and also gives you a bit more motivation for searching for the acorns in the platforming levels. With that said, I shall begin discussing the game types.

Let’s begin with the dodgeball. This is a fun but simple little game where two teams try to knock the other team out with dodgeballs. Unlike traditional gymnasium dodgeball, a person isn’t out as soon as they get hit in this game. Instead, each character has a lifebar and getting hit with a ball does damage to him. There isn’t particularly much strategy in this game, although you can pass the ball between players on your team (it can also be intercepted), the advantage being that, if done correctly, it can result in a more powerful throw from the receiving person. Overall, the dodgeball game isn’t the most depth-filled in the world, lacking the depth of such titles as Monsters Inc. Scream Arena, but it is good for a round or two occasionally. The unlockables for this game include uniforms and the right to have more balls present during the matches.

The racing mode is also good for a diversion now and then, and is indeed better for a diversion than the dodgeball in my opinion. Boasting four tracks, each of which is unlocked by placing first on the track before it, it is pretty good for just one part of a game. Making matters even better is the fact that after you’ve unlocked all four tracks, you can continue and unlock the right to race each track backward. That may not sound like much, but it serves to give the illusion of eight tracks.

Anyway, the actual racing isn’t that engaging. The only powerup you can get is a turbo boost, and this game also possesses the control scheme where you press the direction you want the car to turn rather than the direction you want it to go. Somehow though it executes better in this game than in Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, and the game does come across as fun. The damage does effect the performance of your car even if it doesn’t affect what your car looks like. Anyway, the unlockables in this game include car colors and performance enhancements, and even a couple extra cars that you can buy the right to use to increase that from four to six.

As for the platforming, the delicate balance between difficulty and accessibility has been maintained fairly well. The game isn’t so difficult that the young children at whom it is aimed will find it too hard, but nor is it so easy that an experienced player can completely cruise through it. However, an experienced platformer player won’t have any significant trouble with any particular area. The platforming areas are split between Chicken Little, Commander Ace, and Fish out of Water, with each having their own control scheme and play style.

Overall, there is more than enough diversity in the platforming to keep the player from getting bored and, for those who like collecting, the game keeps track of how many collectible items are in each level and how many of them the player has collected. The unlockables pertaining to this mode are simply health increases for the three playable characters, and they aren’t really particularly necessary for experienced players. My only major complaint here is that it isn’t the world’s longest platformer, but its length is decent compared to many Buena Vista titles, probably a result of it being an A2M game.

The main point is that between the three game modes, this game has the potential to last a reasonable amount of time. There isn’t any multiplayer to the dodgeball or the racing, which would have been a welcome addition, but with three game modes to choose from, this game should provide enough entertainment value to be a worthy purchase for a young child or possibly even for an experienced gamer looking for a simpler game for a change of pace.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.1
Written by Martin Review Guide