So, you’re a Jail-Bird (in the most literal way possible) that is dreaming of freedom. Why are you in jail? Was it that you’re on tonight’s menu, was it that you’re part of a diabolically unethical experiment involving psychic powers, was it that you’re a suave secret agent bird escaping the lair of a mad scientist, or was it just that you were an incarcerated bird of low moral fiber? Whatever it is, one thing is certain: you are not going to tolerate being locked up like this any longer! Unfortunately for you, the wardens of your imprisonment are quite equipped to make sure you never escape this place alive.
CGMatic’s recent offering for the iDevice family – ChickenBreak (out now, $0.99) – successfully blends the concept of an endless runner game with the game play style of Fruit Ninja, the results of which form a powerful gestalt unison. At the same time that you are making sure to perform proper evasive actions to avoid the obstacles in your way, you will also be using finger swipes to destroy the batches of winding missiles that frequently get sent your way. As a truly bizarre – yet infinitely awesome – visual touch, all the missile that you slash through with your finger are destroyed by the chicken kicking energy blasts at them.
Speaking of the game’s visual component, the entire game is amazing to look at and takes full advantage of the high definition Retina display features of the more recent iDevices. The game’s titular chicken is animated with detailed, and very amusing looking, high quality hand drawn sprites. This same caliber of detail carries over to the various – randomly selected – prison environments that you will run through in your never ending quest to escape, all of which furthermore have multiple layers of parallax scrolling.
Moving on to the mechanics of how the game plays in greater detail, the aforementioned obstacle dodging works by having an action button appear on screen whenever an obstacle is approaching. Tapping the button itself, which will appear in a different location every time an obstacle draws near, causes the chicken to perform the dodge method appropriate to the particular incoming trap type. While the evasive action button tapping doesn’t have to be pixel perfect precise, tapping the button way too early will cause you to get caught in the trap despite attempting to avoid it (such as jumping early and landing squarely in the pit itself).
Whenever the traps aren’t coming after you, the giant missiles arrays usually will be. Fortunately your chicken’s spider sense danger sense will point to where each separate missile in the upcoming volley will be arriving from off screen. While each of these missiles can be scratched out individually – which is greatly inefficient – it is far more profitable to take them all out with one large swipe, doing so scores you both combo bonuses and a larger shower of coins than normal.
The coins themselves drop whenever the missiles are destroyed, they then sit around for a while – during which time you can tap them to pick them up – before they eventually disappear. Thankfully the coins take a while to disappear, so you will never feel obligated to try to grab them while in danger and can always instead wait until a temporary lull in the action occurs (although losing a life will immediately remove all the unclaimed coins currently on screen). With these coins you can buy things such as both temporary and permanent increases to your starting number of lives and shields (when activated, a shield temporarily negates all dangers for a short while). While the in-game accumulation rate of the coins themselves seems rather fair, there also exists an in-app purchase method of obtaining coins for those who can’t wait that long.
Furthermore, the missiles and traps aren’t the only objects that you will encounter during your chicken’s daring escape. There will occasionally appear giant rolling iron spiked balls that seem like something out of the first Indiana Jones film, you will have to slash through these rapidly to destroy them before they catch up with your fleeing poultry. There are also bombs that occasionally drop slowly down from the air, the only thing you have to do with these is never touch them and in turn they will never go off. Finally, at the end of every level you will have an explosive laden cage dropped on you that needs to be destroyed in the same manner as the iron ball – releasing a cavalcade of coins in the process – before it detonates.
While the game does throw its random assortment of hindrances at you more quickly and furiously with each progressive level, and there is a point multiplier you can raise by keeping a single life alive for as long as possible, the problem with ChickenBreak is that you will have experienced everything the game has to offer by the time you finish the very short tutorial. For those of who adore old school arcade style experiences, specifically of the Pac-Man era, the endless repetition of a limited set of elements will probably not serve as a turn off. Unfortunately, the rest of you out there will probably become bored of the game within a single day as none of the unlockables in the store make the game play experience change in the slightest.
iFanzine Verdict: For those of you who already like endless runner games, the way this game seamlessly integrates the game play stylings of Fruit Ninja turns the end result into something you absolutely must see. For those of you who normally get quickly bored of endless runner games because they’re just the same few actions done over and over, this game will do absolutely nothing to change your mind.