Review: Bomb Chicken

Want Your Platformer Regular or Extra Crispy?

With a name like Bomb Chicken, it’s hard not to be intrigued. Such was I in taking on this review, to be sure. I mean who doesn’t like bombs…or chickens, for that matter? Well, with a chicken, egg, and, some mysterious blue…sauce…you too can live your dream of being a bomb-laying chicken. Well, you probably didn’t have that dream, but you probably will after this. You’ll also never want to see or hear another cliche chicken or bomb meme again after reading this or paying the game.

Bomb Chicken, a Nintendo Switch eShop title by developer Nitrome, is a 16-bit retro-styled hardcore platformer that seems to begin inside some sort of fast food joint. After a worker (?) tosses out some trash, a chicken egg from said trash lands on a strange pedestal and gets covered in some blue substance, and out pops Bomb Chicken. While this game is a platformer, you will find quickly that Bomb Chicken can’t jump, and the…beings…in the facility, along with most anything else, are deadly to the touch.

But that’s okay, because this chicken doesn’t lay eggs, he lays bombs. Whenever you lay a bomb you end up sitting on top of it, and you can lay an unlimited number. You can also kick bombs from the sides, and this is basically your entire move set. It seems pretty simple, but you’ll quickly discover that it’s pretty tough being a bomb-laying chicken. In particular, your “eggs” are just as lethal to you as anything else, so you can never sit still for too long.

Let’s Splo Stuff Up

The game starts you off pretty easy, and the first couple levels aren’t too difficult as they show you the ropes. It ramps up real fast from there, though, and by about ten levels in it was really starting to remind me of other punishing platformers like Super Meat Boy or 1001 Spikes. One touch of anything that moves is instant death. However, that’s all fine and dandy because you get to play with an infinite supply of bombs. It’s the sort of thing that’s a little bit frustrating, but only just enough to where you want to keep trying.

As you explore the colorful and stylish levels (I really loved the fast food motif of the early levels and the posters and other background elements are great), you’ll find puzzles to solve,  enemies to destroy (or avoid) and most importantly perhaps, you’ll find blue gems. Some are out in the open and others are in secret rooms, because what game with bombs wouldn’t be complete without hidden rooms to break into? These blue gems can be offered to a…chicken god?…to increase your maximum lives, and you’ll need as many as you can get, trust me.

While the game is very difficult, it is also pretty friendly to the player with its mechanics. If you die in the first section of any level, you simply reappear at the beginning of the level and no life is lost. As you move to subsequent rooms, a life is taken away when you die and you respawn in the room where you died. Lose all your lives and it’s back to the start of the level. There’s no time limit or other annoying mechanics, so you can just focus on beating the levels.

So what have I forgotten? Oh. You may have noticed I didn’t mention the sound. The SFX are appropriate, but things like the chicken squaking every time you die and respawn may drive those around you insane. The music is…appropriate. The music for each area feels like it belongs, but it is a little bland and uninspired. It’s not bad, but it is forgettable, which is a shame because I love me a good video game soundtrack. The good news is the visuals largely make up for this. There are lots of great details, from the great lighting effects to chains and other objects dangling from the ceilings that move when you touch them, which add to the overall experience.

Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb

It’s hard not to have fun in any game where you have things that explode, and the game certainly delivers on the promise given by the title. Any fan of really hard platformers is going to enjoy this, for sure. That being said, the game isn’t without its flaws. I found what I presume to be a glitch while messing around with my exploding goodness. In the rooms between levels where you turn in your blue gems, you can move around and lay bombs as you would anywhere else. However, if you happen to blow yourself up in this area, strange things start happening.

First, this room suddenly becomes the first room of the next level, as if you die in the actual first room, you now lose lives, and you respawn back in the shrine room, except everything except the exit doors, part of the floor, and the amount of blue gems for the offering are now solid black. Because this room isn’t actually part of the level, you see a loading screen every time you die, and also before the Game Over screen appears. Perhaps this oversight snuck in because they didn’t think anyone would die in that “safe” area. I had to either close the game or go back to an earlier level to clear this up. It’s the only real bug I found, but it really sticks out.

Another thing I thought was an issue is that you only have one save game. While each local user on your Switch console gets its own save data, being able to have more than one save slot would be nice. I was also never really able to work out why you can’t lay a bomb in a corridor that’s two tiles high, when the chicken and the bomb seem to each be one tile tall.

To wrap this up, Bomb Chicken is definitely a…blast (groan…), but if you’re a seasoned hardcore platformer player, you’ll probably find the game to be pretty short. A solid fun challenge, but short. If you don’t fall into that category, it will probably take you much longer. Regardless, it’s sure to be aworthwhile, fun little romp. Just try not to blow yourself up, and have that mute button ready if there’s anyone else in the room with you.

Final Score: 7/10

Review copy provided by developer for Switch. Screenshots taken by reviewer.