Release Date: 17 August 2017
Price: $14.99 / £13.49
Reviewed by Phil Myth
Chicken Wiggle is a 2D platformer who's real charm lies not in it's own levels, but in those created by the players themselves. Developed by Atooi – spin off of Mutant Mudds developer Renegade Kid – it sees players take control of the eponymous Chicken the chicken and Wiggle the worm.
The buddy duo traverse their way across 48 levels in an attempt to free their bird friends (who presumably forgo eating Wiggle as a reward for his part in their emancipation) after they are captured by a nefarious witch.
They do this by jumping, naturally, pecking at enemies, and using Wiggle as a sort of hookshot to pull Chicken across chasms and up towers. Wiggle can also be used to stun enemies, giving his partner enough time to peck them out of the way. He may get second billing, but Wiggle is the real hero here for my money.
The levels themselves are fairly straightforward, but never get boring. The sheer variety in mechanics, power ups, and puzzles to be solved mean that I was encountering new things right up until the final level. Those power-ups range from giving Chicken the power of flight, to a ghostly ability allowing him to walk through spikes. There's even one that allows him to peck through almost any surface, giving those levels a Steamworld Dig quality to them. All of this meant that whilst the difficulty never really ramped up to be truly challenging, I was never bored because there was always a new idea to be introduced.
Let your imagination run wild
If the main game introduces you to the tools available, then the level editor let's you go wild. Unlike Mario Maker, everything is available from the get go, and there's even some items like warp squares that don't even show up in the main campaign. The level size is fixed, and there's no way to zoom out to view the level as a whole, which can make it a little cumbersome to really plan out what it is you want to create. Similarly, there's no real explanation of what each of the tiles does. But once you've experimented a bit and got your head around things, your imagination can run free.
You can set different criteria for completion too. The caged birds make a return from the main campaign, but you can also set it so that victory is achieved by defeating every enemy, tracking down all the collectables, or by escorting a little skeleton dude back to his grave. This alone adds a tonne of extra variety to that seen in the main game.
Bright and Colourful
Once you've concocted your level, you can of course upload it for everyone else to try too. Much like Mario Maker, you'll have to beat your level first before you can upload it, but unlike Mario Maker, finding other levels of interest is a doddle. You can search by popularity, name, or creator. You can list levels by the newest to be added or browse those created by Atooi themselves. Once you've beaten them, you can even add a list of favourites. It's a brilliantly robust level editor and means that the game has as long a lifespan as it's fan base wants to give it.
Presentation wise Chicken Wiggle is incredibly bright and colourful. The levels aren't particularly packed with detail, but there's an impressive depth to their appearance, especially with the 3D slider up. The music is pleasant if not particularly memorable, and the protagonists are incredibly adorable and rather cool. By contrast the enemy design is a little generic, and coupled with the three letters that spell out FUN to be found in each level, gave me some minor flashbacks of those plug-and-play Mario Bros clones your nan used to buy you. But the actual gameplay mechanics are so tight and polished that you can kinda forgive it.
Chicken Wiggle then performs best when taken as a level creator, with a 48 stage tutorial to introduce you to your tool set. The eponymous duo are a truly cool couple of characters, and the sheer variety of platforms, power-ups, spikes, and switches available to you, should keep you playing long after you finish the main game.
Pros & Cons
+ Charming presentation
+ Great level creator
- Some generic design choices
- Simple main campaign