Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flash Mobile Game Review: Chickn 2Go

Chickn 2Go
Developed by Milky Entertainment
Released: June 2007
Availability: www.milkyentertainment.com
Requirements: Nokia N73 was the target development device for the game. It is a Flash Lite 2 game for 2nd or 3rd Edition Series 60 devices (240x320). Note: Review was conducted on a Nokia N95.

"A set of 3 'Fing-R C-lick'N Good' Flash Lite Casual Mini-Games"

Review by Scott Janousek

As part of a final student project at the Vancouver Film School, Chickn 2go is a set of three Flash Lite 2.0 mini-games that Melanie Genereux sent to me from their organization: Milky Entertainment.

The games were developed by a team of students over the course of 12 weeks, which is further empirical proof that with Flash Lite, a team can more easily prototype and build casual mobile games by utilizing Adobe's mobile design, development, and testing tools with little, to no experience.

Frying Frenzy
The first mini-game, "Frying Frenzy" is a good example of a very simple casual game. Situated in a kitchen setting modeled in "2.5D", you play the role of "Head Chicken Chef" where the objective is cook as many chickens as you can before time runs out.

To cook a chicken, you must first catch falling ingredients you need in a frying pan by moving your character left and right on the screen.

To successfully cook a chicken, you need 3 main items. These consist of an uncooked bird (of course!), some oil, and a bit of flame ("heat") to cook it up.

As you catch each of these particular items you must be careful to get each one of these ingredients while trying to avoid the extraneous ingredients that continue falling. After all, these will otherwise ruin your super famous chicken recipe!

Mixing Madness
The second game is the mini-game pack is "Mixing Madness". This is a puzzle type game where you must mix and match various ingredients (butter, salt, onion, honey, chicken) to complete the sequence given in the "red strip".

Also, to make it more challenging you can only move ingredients that are surrounded by buzzing flies only. Of course there is also an obligatory time left with this game as well, so you can't rest on your laurels while playing it!

Besides a few bugs here in there due to things not loading properly, this little game seemed to be fairly amusing, especially from a visual aspect.

The Other Game
Lastly, the 3rd title in the Chickn 2 go series is called, "The Other Game". Clever. The goal here is super-size all your chickens in the hen house.

How do you do that? Basically, you feed them seed. The more the better, and better move quick or your chickens will grow ill and then croak. If you feed them nicely, your stock become super sized, and then start pumping out eggs. You'll need to grab these before they go stale! ...

As you collect good eggs, you will, you guessed it, generate some much needed cash which can be used to buy more chickens, in case your flock (is that the right term for Chicken's? Doh.) depletes. A very good casual game concept!

The Good:

"World Creation"
Frying Frenzy was the best of the lot. It offered great graphics, amusing and simple game play, and performance was decent. It immerses the player into a world of "chicken lick'in goodness".

Uniqueness and Concept
This kind of ties in with the previous entry, but overall, I found the games unique enough due to the overall storyline and game series concept.

Sound Effects
I liked the overall sound effects for the series. Very simple and to the point. They added a much needed response to the gameplay, and without them I don't think the title would be quite as polished. Kudos to the team members who did the sound.

The artwork accurately captures the look and feel the game is trying to go after. The games were a mix of 2.5D and 2D work. In Frying Frenzy, I found the 2.5D work very nice. More level graphics are always nice, but for sake of size, what is there is quite good. The feedback animations were entertaining, where "Cluckie" (yep, the chicken character's name) does a little dance when you do something right and achieve some point levels.

The Bad:

No Level Difficulty Setting
Unfortunately, there is no difficulty setting for the most challenging game of the bunch, "The Other Game". This made it extremely hard to play and win (or at least more diffcult on my Nokia N95).

On the main screen of the games, there is a vibration "cue" on each menu item. Although this might seem like a good idea, and adds a unique touch, it does drain the battery. IMHO, it would be better to leave this out, especially on a menu selection page ... but it comes down to taste. No biggie.

I didn't have time to check with the team about some loading issues I was having in regards to instructions, but there were a few places where clips failed to load. (Note: I believe the team did mention, they did in fact, run into a few memory issues with some of the animated content they wanted to present).

Game Play Keys
Overall, the control of the game is pretty straightforward. The instructions are definitely a requirement for each of these titles, however. Changing the game logic to require or skip instructions to prior to playing each title, would probably be best, especially for newbie players who will be lost initially.

I would have liked to know more about "Cluckie" and what he was all about! Why the heck is "Cluckie" cook'in up his fellow chicken brotheren? Is he a cannibal? Is Cluckie just a human in suit? Is he related to BucketHead? The world will never know. A shame. :)

The game is currently deployed as a .zip which must be extracted and individual games SWF needs to be run.

A deploy using a .SIS file would probably be much more preferable. Using SWF2Go (a .SIS packaging tool for Flash Lite) to bundle the title would solve this problem for target Series 60 devices. Alternatively, a main SWF launcher might be appropriate for a series of mini-games ... a "Cluckie" launcher if you will. :)

I mentioned both of these to the development team, so I'm sure they will be using the tool in the next release!

Long live Cluckie!