Review: Crazy Chicken Jump’n Run Atlantis Quest (Nintendo DS)

coverCrazy Chicken Jump’n Run Atlantis Quest
Developer: MumboJumbo
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 06/11/2009

So, why did the chicken decide to look for the sunken island of Atlantis? To find Poseidon’s Trident? To discover why his ancestor’s invaded and sunk the island (I wish I was kidding)? To find a more advanced and steampunkish way to cross the road? If only it were that interesting…

Story/Modes
Bear in mind, this is a game that’s aimed at a much younger audience, at least I sincerely hope so. On top of that it’s one in a series of games starring a chicken of all things. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare, or even anything resembling sanity, but there really is very little going on here.

Thousands of years ago, the chicken’s ancestors invaded Atlantis in droves and the Atlanteans were apparently lacking any kind of KFC or something equally helpful, like an axe and decided instead to sink their city into the ocean where the chicken menace couldn’t reach them.

Enter our, er, hero. He’s decided to re-discover this land that his ancestors invaded all those years ago no matter how much they don’t want him there. I would probably find this amusing if it wasn’t so ridiculous, but this is coming from the guy who likes to collect Transformers. Really though that’s all there is to it and that’s pretty thin as it is.

Story/Modes Rating: Pretty Poor

Graphics
Where to begin? Even for a DS game this isn’t very pretty. I mean this is just slightly better visually than the Sonic titles on the Genesis as far as that goes. Or maybe one of the slightly revamped collections. On top of that there is not really much visual variety. It’s the same backgrounds, the same monsters, the same repetitive animations over and over again as you play through. The map you move through to get to the sunken city isn’t very interesting visually either and the chicken over that is really jagged and looks out of place.

One neat feature that’s completely throw away is the ability to sign your save game (you get three) with your stylus. That’s the only time you’ll use that piece of the DS hardware for this game. The only reason I mention it here as it’s a visual and wouldn’t fit anywhere else.

Graphics Rating: Decent

ccaq02Sound
Very, very generic music and sounds here. There’s no voice-overs to speak of, and if I never hear a chicken squawk again as part of a musical theme in a level again it will be too soon. About half-way through the game I turned the sound off. I rarely do that. I can take all sorts of audio punishment, especially having two cats and a dog in my house. I hear all sorts of noises meant to make my ears bleed that don’t phase me any more but this game’s music irked me on all sorts of levels.

Boring, repetitive, and ho-hum. We seem to have a theme going on with this one people.

Sound Rating: Awful

Control and Gameplay
Gameplay is very straightforward. You have a few boss fights, lots of swimming levels and the rest is all the same platforming levels over and over again in different arrangements. If you’ve played through a few levels you’ve pretty much got all you’re going to get out of this game. You do have the option of collecting extra lives and health as well as ammunition as you play through. That will save, but all that gold you collect gets reset every time you play and gets charted on the high score table which was kind of neat. If you happen to use all your lives (and I did because of the controls which I’ll touch on in a bit) and start over it defaults to three lives, but if you used up your ammunition and grenades, they’re all gone for good, or rather until you collect more in the next level, if there is any. In which case your standard death from above onto an enemy attack applies.

One nice feature is the crystals that are interspersed around levels. Green ones let you continue from that spot should you die, and you will in some levels, and the red ones end the level. Some levels have several green ones around, and I got confused a few times which ones I had last been at and ended up going the wrong way because the arrows pointing out the directions I was supposed to move in, were wrong. Not a terrible set-up but it’s not a great one either.

ccaq05This game handles terribly. Imagine a chicken with it’s head cut off and then trying to play this game. It’s about the same. The collision detection is terrible, so even if you’re not in the path of these giant smashing columns you’ll still be instantly turned into something finger licking good. The controls are sluggish, and even when you’re moving, or running it always feels like you’re in this daze and it’s just not responding well enough. Shooting is incredibly inaccurate and some of the jumps would test the patience of a devout nun, but only because of the incredibly insensitive controls.

It gets worse when you’re swimming. The game thinks you hit nearly every enemy you get near, and you’re limited on oxygen you can pull by swatting plants or something on the ground. Which can also hurt enemies? Ummm.. ok? There’s a reason birds of flight don’t go diving. This game is it. I cringed every time I realized I was going to have to swim. You can’t move fast enough in the water, even holding down the run button (which does make you swim faster), to get to the air supply in some areas. And several times I ended up drowning or running out of time literally a foot from the end crystal. Highly annoying. Then of course there’s the precision jumping to try and grab ropes the game doesn’t always seem to think are there.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor

Replayability
If you’re a glutton for punishment or really enjoy beating your own high scores on this game I’m not seeing a whole lot of reason to play it again. Maybe you’re into pain, or maybe you really enjoy running around as a chicken sticking it to the Colonel. The game is too repetitive and there just isn’t enough variety to keep me interested let alone play it all over again.

Replayability Rating: Dreadful

Balance
Short and cheap. Anyone experienced with platformers will pretty much have this game beat in just a few hours and then be left scratching their head what to do with the rest of their day. It is a budget title and unfortunately it really shows. The games idea of a help system is to direct you to the manual. Yeesh. I suppose if you’re looking for some way to punish a loved one this is a cheap way to do it.

ccaq03That and while there is a bit of difficulty to it, it’s not from the levels getting smarter or anything clever, they’re just longer. So you might end up doing a level 3 or 4 times just because it’s so long you’ve used up all your lives and have gone to ghost chicken heaven in the sky. Hmmm, maybe if it controlled better that would have fixed that? That really wasn’t the way to balance it, especially on a hand-held title. Longer doesn’t always mean better.

Balance Rating: Decent

Originality
How many Crazy Chicken games are there out there? In how many varieties? I think this goes beyond original and extra crispy and even leaves grilled in the dust at this point. This is his first run to Atlantis though, and with any luck this will be his last. I’ll give them credit for that much at least.

Originality Rating: Bad

Addictiveness
This game is beyond frustrating with the controls and the repetition. I ended up watching Project Runway re-runs rather than play this game, and it was an episode I’d seen before! I can see OCD people trying to collect and kill everything, but with it not really keeping a record of it other than a high score, what’s the point? It’s like when you get in the habit of going out to lunch and you’ve run through all your favorite restaurants and you finally decide to eat at home and all there is in the fridge is leftover chicken. That’s where you’d find this game, with the leftovers.

Addictiveness Rating: Very Bad

ccaq07Appeal Factor
It is a budget title. I’ll give it that. And fans of chickens in the world will love it. Seriously though, this one doesn’t even register on the radar. There are lots of other platform titles out there for the DS that are actually fun and play well that people will be clamoring for before they pick this thing up and act all interested. Unless of course you like torturing friends and family members and decide this would make a great gift.

Appeal Factor Rating: Poor

Miscellaneous
Looking at this game you can kind of see what they were trying to do with it, but the game’s just lacking on so many levels. This doesn’t even really register or resonate with my nostalgia over the 2D platformers of old like Sonic or Mario Bros. Too much repetition, too little fun, and it just feels so uninspired. Honestly, as a parent looking for a game for a kid on the DS, I might have picked this one up to give it a once over, and then thought better of it and picked something else up I know they’d enjoy, even at the budget title price.

Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Pretty Poor
Graphics Rating: Decent
Sound Rating: Awful
Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor
Replayability Rating: Dreadful
Balance Rating: Decent
Originality Rating: Bad
Addictiveness Rating: Very Bad
Appeal Factor Rating: Poor
Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre
FINAL SCORE: PRETTY POOR GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize If you’re looking for a good kid’s title, or a challenging platformer, this isn’t it. This is a pretty basic budget title featuring a chicken in an Indiana Jones outfit. There isn’t any deep meaning behind it, and I’m sure beyond the sluggish controls there might be a fun game within, but at this moment in time it’s just another in a long line of throwaway titles that have been coming out on the DS. If you’re really into the Crazy Chicken series, go for it, but I think most people will want to get their chicken intake deep fried with a side of mashed potatoes.

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