Super Alfred Chicken

A bird that could not fly
A bird that could not fly

I can still remember the fervor that accompanied the SNES release of Super Alfred Chicken. I remember the seemingly endless lines, the makeshift tent cities, and of course the elaborate Alfred Chicken costumes that captured our hearts while we all waited for this cultural touchstone.

It seems like a different world now, one so far removed from the violence and rhetoric that plague the cruel year of 2016. It was a simpler, happier time, and much of that was squarely on the tiny shoulders* of our hero, Alfred Chicken. Waiting in that gigantic line with other Chickenheads (as fans of Alfred Chicken are globally known) and breathlessly speculating on the game’s release and what it meant for the beloved franchise…these are some of my favourite childhood memories. Thank you, Alfred Chicken.

Alfred Chicken. Mother Teresa. Mahatma Ghandi. Jesus. Different names for the same being. A point of shining purity and light, staving away society’s shadows, if only briefly. Golden clarity to all those who might be lucky enough to steal a glimpse of history made flesh.

It’s only now, in retrospect, that the looming fall was obvious. At the time, no one could believe anything negative about Super Alfred Chicken. How could we? Here was a bird that had united everyone though his love of awkward jumping and being instantly killed by robotic mice. But unfortunately, we eventually found his true love: eating human ankle skin.

At first it was just rumors. Some journalist would hop out of an interview clutching their foot and swearing under their breath. A child would burst into tears and pull up their socks. Super Alfred Chicken would see a sign for Footlocker and mention that he hadn’t eaten in a while. But everything came to light.

The footage of the shootout between Super Alfred Chicken and the Virginia State Police was all over the news for days. School was cancelled on the first day. Flags were half-mast out of respect for the Great Bird…but as the details began to come out, national mourning became national outrage. It wasn’t until Super Alfred Chicken’s basement was dug up that the true horror began.

It’s strange to be confronted with this grisly spectre of the past. How do you write about such a game without mentioning its lurid history? You don’t. You drink for a while and try not to see yourself in the mirror. We all try to forget and let the skin on our ankles heal.

 

* I’m not sure if chickens have shoulders and I refuse to educate myself on this matter. Please leave this as a fun mystery for me to take to the grave.

 

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The Flintstones

The Flintstones
The Flintstones

Not much to say here. The Flintstones is the standard formula of a movie franchise turned into a mindless platform game. It gets partial credit for not entirely sucking, but suffers from the usual flaws. The music is annoying and repetitive. The level design is frustrating. There’s no point to the game. No plot. No depth. Its selling point is entirely the franchise. That’s it. That’s all.

Srsly?  US and British English, in a video game?  Nice logo whorage too.
Srsly? US and British English, in a video game? Nice logo whorage too.

The most amusing parts of the game are things like the language selection at the beginning. You can pick between British and US English as separate options. That amuses me greatly. You can disable the music and sound effects because they are that annoying. There’s even a two-player mode, so that you can share the frustration with a friend. Another amusing part is watching Fred huff and puff just standing still. We get it. He’s out of shape. But it doesn’t even kick in after running a bit. He’s sweating lard just standing there!

Is that a bone in your mouth, or are you just happy to see me?
Is that a bone in your mouth, or are you just happy to see me?

The game makes some casual attempt at using the SNES’ background graphics, but it is all so pointless. There’s no reason to play this game. Why would you want to? No matter how nostalgic you are about the Flintstones, this game isn’t fun. Even if you spend the time to make it pretty far, one little whap, or one little slip up, and you go all the way back to the beginning of the stage. Why? What’s the point?

Ok, you have decent backgrounds.  So you put a bit of time into this franchise rape.  Fine.  Actually, that's kinda sad, really.
Ok, you have decent backgrounds. So you put a bit of time into this franchise rape. Fine. Actually, that's kinda sad, really.

Verdict: The Flintstones leaves me with the usual emptiness of franchise plat form games. There is no point to it at all. It seems like an exercise in frustration to try to salvage what nostalgia you might have left about the classic show. You can enjoy the same nostalgia by just watching Fred sleep, or shove a piece of meat in his mouth when you stop moving. Just turn off the music and sound effects and watch him stand there for a bit. Same effect, less frustration.

Family Dog

Family Dog
Family Dog

How to get through this review without making a pun about how this is when games went to the dogs?  Ugh.  Family dog comes from an era where “making a game” consisted of putting together a shitty obstacle course with bad controls, giving it a sort of theme, and pretending that it was fun.  There are too many games made with this cookie cutter to count.  And they all blow.

The overuse of primary colours also isn't the game's worse flaw.
The overuse of primary colours also isn't the game's worse flaw.

Family Dog is no exception.  You’re a dog.  You have to make it through the house to fetch a ball for your Denice The Menace style owner, who also likes to shoot you.  But you still want to please him.  It’s rather masochistic.  Oh, and the house is out to get you.  But wait! At least there are dog treats that are stuck to the walls at heights exceeding 10 meters!  Bleh, I don’t even want to go on.  Its weak point isn’t that it doesn’t make any sense.  That’s just a given.

It seems the intent of the level layout is to make you spend as much time as possible in the air.  It should have been called Family Bird.
It seems the intent of the level layout is to make you spend as much time as possible in the air. It should have been called Family Bird.

The music is so irritating, it’s best played with the sound off.  It loops endlessly and is almost improved by the random *boinks* and *boings* and *woofs* that are inserted in bad 1930s movie fashion.  The controls are abysmal.  Oh, and apparently you can only bark so many times before you need a treat to bark again.  Did I mention that books kill you?  Yeah, books kill you.

My guess is that every book in the house looked like this.
My guess is that every book in the house looked like this.

Let’s just keep this one a dirty little secret, you and I, and pretend it never existed.  There is zero reason to ever consider turning on this game.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Maybe if you were a clinical psychologist and conducting a study in frustration and irritation you could use this game as a stimulus.  But you’d really, really have to compensate your participants.  And give them giant warnings.  In fact, no, not even then.  I don’t think submitting them to this game would pass ethics board approval.

Verdict: Family Dog was the game that your aunt bought you for Christmas because she thought it looked cute on the shelf and the clerk at Zellers just shrugged when she asked if her nephew would like it.  You put it under your bed, forgot about it, and didn’t miss it.  Don’t bring it back out.  Ever. In fact, just feed it to your dog.

Chester Cheetah – Wild Wild Quest

Chester Cheetah - Wild Wild Quest
Chester Cheetah - Wild Wild Quest

He’s just a kool cat, who wants to get to hip city, but THE MAN Eugene keeps gettin’ in his way!

Oh NOES!  Me and my kool leopard print are gonna have to cruise the USA to finds us the pieces to the map to Hip Town!  Or, you know, we could just not, and move to Rio or something.  I hear it's nice.  Lots of leopard print.
Oh NOES! Me and my kool leopard print are gonna have to cruise the USA to finds us the pieces to the map to Hip Town! Or, you know, we could just not, and move to Rio or something. I hear it's nice. Lots of leopard print.

Oh noes! Won’t you help Chester get the pieces of his map to hip city back!? Too bad they didn’t spend as much time on the gameplay as the intro.

ZOMG, my feet get all blurry when I run, almost like... a hedgehog!
ZOMG, my feet get all blurry when I run, almost like... a hedgehog!

The game is basically a lame imitation of Sonic. It’s a shame. It had potential. It was cute. The music was decent. The franchise a good excuse. But the platform play is just asstastic. They made a huge mistake: you take one hit to die. Oh, sure, you can pick up a bag of Cheetos to act as a single life line, but the enemies are positioned in such stupid ways that you’ll be lucky to make it past the first 3 jumps without having to use a continue, let alone make it through the first stage.

Second enemy, you have to jump from two ledges below and land on a moving target exactly on its head, or you insta-die.  Real fun.
Second enemy, you have to jump from two ledges below and land on a moving target exactly on its head, or you insta-die. Real fun.

This sort of challenge may have been fun in the eighties when people had nothing better to do than hack away at stupidly hard levels with poor designs, but nowadays, I demand more. It’s simply not fun. Sonic was fun. You could hit the occasional enemy and not insta-die. You could run and bounce off stuff, and be immune in ball form. It was exciting. Chester Cheetah is not.

Verdict: The game had potential, but died in the crib due to poor forethought. It’s an obvious Sonic clone without the masterful Sega game design. The game is frustrating, and you’ll put it down and pick up a bag of Cheetos instead. Watch the intro, have a good chuckle, and then turn it off and go play Sonic. Be shrewd, dude!