Sunday, 25 May 2014

Single Screen Platform Games #12

Chuckie Egg (1983)
By: Nigel Alderton / A&F Software Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: BBC Micro First Day Score: 173,320
Also Available For: ZX Spectrum, Dragon 32/64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Acorn Electron, MSX, Tatung Einstein, Atari 8-bit, PC, Amiga

There have never really been too many single-screen platform games around but a good number of them were not only arcade games, but Japanese arcade games. One of the most notable exceptions is a game that's legendary here in the UK but less well known elsewhere. If you grew up in the 80's here it wasn't a question of if you had played Chuckie Egg but rather which version you'd had access to. Despite owning a Speccy, most of my time spent with the game was courtesy of my good friend Luke and his Dragon 32. Many pleasant weekends were spent charging around the luminous green stages (a trademark of many Dragon titles) and we loved the game, but all these years I've been hearing about how the BBC version is supposedly the best of the many available. Having recently 'explored' this classic system, finding proof of this claim seemed like an ideal way to start my reviews for the system.

I could probably finish this first stage blindfolded...
Like so many similar examples, the object of the game is to collect stuff. As Hen-House Harry, your quarry is twelve eggs which are scattered around on the platforms of each stage. Harry can walk at a decent pace, jump, and climb up and down ladders, but that's the extent of his abilities which means the blue chickens patrolling the platforms are to be avoided at all costs. The only means of moving around other than the platforms and ladders are lift platforms which only move up. There are also piles of corn lying around which don't have to be collected - if you leave them the chickens will eat them - but they are worth bonus points so why not? Talking of bonuses, there's a counter at the top of the screen that gradually ticks down alongside a timer. It's pretty generous but the faster you finish a stage the more points you'll get, obviously. Letting the timer run out will cost you a life, as will falling off the bottom of the screen, going off the top on a lift, or touching any of the terrifying farmyard sentinels.

Eeek, run away, ghost duck is on the prowl!
There are eight unique stages in total, each featuring between two and four evil chickens. The pesky cluckers can climb ladders as well as stroll around the platforms so they can be a bit of a pain, but in most cases they can be outfoxed simply by being patient. However, while playing you might notice a certain yellow creature caged in the top-left corner of the screen which is actually an angry duck. If you manage to finish all eight stages you'll return to the first but with the chickens replaced by this eerie floating monstrosity who automatically homes in on Harry's position and can move through anything to get there without delay. Even though there's only the one of him it's still more difficult to get through the stages for a second time. If you're skilled/determined enough to do so you'll then return to the beginning again and this time you'll have to contend with chickens and the duck! The fourth time through the game adds extra chickens and finally a fifth time speeds all the infernal birds up.

Now we're buggered - chickens AND the duck!
It probably all sounds exactly like a million other games of the era, and indeed it may not seem particularly revolutionary today, but it mustn't be forgotten that Chuckie Egg was one of the games to popularise the genre to begin with. It's graphics weren't anything special, even in its day, and the sound is limited only to simple effects for walking, jumping, etc. The thing that made it stand out was that it was just so much fun to play. It's not too difficult for one thing, the action is fast-paced, and the controls are perfect, but the best thing about the game for me is the design of its stages. They might look as if someone cobbled them together in five minutes with a level-editing tool but the more time you play them the more you realise how enjoyable and distinctive they are. Then again, I'm sure most gamers reading this already know that Chuckie Egg is awesome - the question was whether this BBC version is the best of the bunch. Well, it may have been a while since I played the others but I think it could well be...

RKS Score: 9/10

Look! Play a Flash version of the BBC version of Chuckie Egg here! :)


  1. I can't imagine anything topping the 48k version!

  2. Hi Gary, thanks for dropping by :) I think Chuckie Egg is one of those games that didn't get any bad versions. As I said, I often hear people saying the BBC version is best but I also hear the same about the Speccy version nearly as often :)

  3. Cannot recall playing spec or beeb version, so I'll have to take your word for it! Does either version feature run-up-ladder-faster-by-pressing-spacebar gameplay like the incredible Dragon32 version? :)

  4. Unfortunately not, buddy, the mighty Dragon version is the only one that has that as far as I know. I remember you using is most enthusiastically though :P