*cough* Lemmings rip-off *cough*! That pretty much tells you all you need to know about Chicks. Your mission is simple: a number of cute little chickens drop out of a trapdoor in the sky. Unfortunately, these chicks are pretty stupid, and left to their own devices, they will simply walk aimlessly backwards and forwards with no regard for personal safety. In order to overcome this, you need to give your chicks special abilities - the ability to dig, blow up obstacles or stop other chicks from plunging to their deaths by being a "blocker" - and guide as many as possible to the door located on each screen
Like I said, Chicks is an unashamed Lemmings rip-off that simply replaces the green-haired characters with some yellow chicks. Still, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The game play behind Lemmings is incredibly addictive, so anything which imitates that should be welcomed.
Graphically, Chicks is nice and bright, as you would expect. Full of blocky, but attractive graphics, are bright, colourful main characters. Graphics are crisp and clear, and it's easy to work out where (and what) everything is on a level. Chicks is obviously aiming for the cuteness factor and there's no doubt that the graphics are appealing and will make many people go "aaaah" over them. For me, the game tries a little too hard to be cute and crosses that line between cuteness and annoyingly twee and I found that after a relatively short period of time, the bright, colourful graphics of Chicks started to grate.
I think the main reason for this is that, whilst cute, they lack character. The original Lemmings, even though they were small, were packed full of character and left you feeling bad when one of them died. This connection with the characters is crucial, since it spurs you on to make sure you save as many as you can and gives you emotional investment in each level. The characters in Chicks just don't achieve that. My only attachment to them was making sure I saved enough to complete the level. If a few died, I didn't care, as long as I'd done enough to move on. Playing Chicks was far more mechanical and far less emotional than playing Lemmings.
They also move in an incredibly annoying way, skipping their way across the screen. This is obviously meant to be cute which, in some regards, it is. However, it also slows the pace of the game down as they take an eternity to move from one part of the screen to another. If they are heading the wrong way, you often have to wait ages whilst they labouriously skip their way to one end of the screen, turn around and skip all the way back to where you need them to be. Meanwhile, there is nothing you can do except watch, which is very frustrating. Lemmings had a feature which allowed you to temporarily speed up the game to stop such waiting around, but the more basic Chicks has no such option as far as I can see.
In-game sound is a definite weak point. The tune over the main title screen is fine, mainly because you don't hear it for terribly long. Sadly, the same can't be same of the in-game tune. It's jolly and jaunty, and certainly well suited to the game's style. Sadly, it's also very short (lasting around 15 seconds) and endlessly loops round and round so that it quickly becomes incredibly annoying. You can turn it off under the options, but the other sound effects are so limited (the chirping of the chick every time you press a button) that you might as well play the game with the sound turned off (which is what I normally do).
Controls for the game are quite well-implemented and keep things nice and simple. A series of on-screen icons represent the different skills you can assign by tapping the icon, then tapping the chick you want to give this ability to. Icons are well designed and laid out, and it's immediately obvious what each of them does, so you're not left scratching your head trying to remember what each one does at a crucial time. Having said that, when the Chicks are bunched together (which often happens), it can be very difficult to pick out the one you need to assign the ability to and this can be very frustrating as you suddenly find you've clicked on the wrong creature and screwed up your chances of completing the level. In fairness, this was also a problem with the original Lemmings, but it's a shame it's not been sorted out for this tribute update.
The game is quite well designed. Levels are imaginative and as you complete each one, there is a real sense of progression and achievement, particularly when you manage to rescue all of your little chicks and play the perfect round. There's also a well-balanced difficulty level. The early stages guide you through the basics, introducing you to the function of each of the icons; later levels are much more fiendish, requiring you to use exactly the right skills at exactly the right time and place. Yet, despite this, I never got addicted to it in the same way I did Lemmings. Somehow, it all gets rather dull surprisingly quickly and I usually only played half a dozen levels at a time before getting bored. With the original Lemmings, if I failed a level, I immediately had to press restart to keep going until I beat it. When this happens with Chicks, a couple of failures simply leads to me shrugging my shoulders and playing another game instead. Somehow, it just never grabbed me in the way I expected it to.
Perhaps this is just as well, because Chicks is a rather short experience. Only 32 levels are currently available and the first 8 of these are trainer levels, which it is almost impossible to fail! That leaves just 24 "proper" levels, so there's not going to be much challenge for seasoned gamers. This would not be so bad if there were other challenges - secrets to uncover, high scores to beat, but there aren't, so once completed, the game lacks any kind of replay value.
At a cost of just 59p, there's enough value for money if you're desperate for a Lemmings-style game, on the iPhone, but the lack of long term challenge and a few annoying little features means it is far from an essential purchase and not one I'd recommend you rush off to download.
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