First Impressions: Chōkon Chicken Do Shindan
Posted by Sean Aaron
Test your "Chicken Bird Soul"
The DS has become massively popular in part due to the number of games on it which claim to test players cleverness in some way. These are typically referred to as "brain training" programs and they've clearly been embraced by a large audience of people that enjoy being tested on math skills and such. This application appears to be a parody of these games in more ways than one: the kanji used for "chōkon" in the game title means "Bird Soul," but if "chōkon" is spelled using a different kanji for "chō" you're referring to the primal life energy of the universe!
Some readers might be disappointed that the "Bird Soul Chicken Test" doesn't actually evaluate the quality of your chickens or gauge your spiritual chicken qualities, but instead consists of nine mini-games that test your ability to time a single "peck" at the touchscreen like a chicken to get the best possible score. Choosing the main option you play a series of three games with the name of the test shown in the top screen, whilst the action is in the bottom. Games consist of an event requiring the proper timing of a single tap to succeed. Some of these are reflexive, like causing a man to grip a rope connected to a bucket over his head before it bonks him on the noggin. Most of them give you more time to consider when to peck, like opening a parachute as close to the ground as possible so the person wearing it doesn't go splat or putting the brakes on a car as late as you can whilst still stopping it from flying over a cliff.
Succeeding with "Good" or "Great" scores will get you some points; after the 3rd one is complete a "chicken meter" is shown that fills according to your performance and you're given a percentage rating - presumably your overall Chicken Soul score? It's not clear exactly how this is determined, but the number of successful results doesn't seem to be as important as the degree of success: we had one run with utter failure in two of the three events, but one scoring "Great" and got an 85% rating; the test following saw two "Good" results and one failure with an overall higher numeric score, but only a 64% rating awarded.
If you desire you can play the games on their own without an overall ranking via the second menu option, but you can only play those which you've played previously in the test mode so it might take several playthroughs before you unlock all nine games for solo play. There's another menu option which might be achievements, but it's hard to tell. Tapping it takes you to a screen with seven lines on it (there are four pages like this available) in the lower screen. After playing for awhile we noted that whilst most of these lines were apparently locked (displaying "? ? ?"), some were simple words like "hiyoko," which is Japanese for "chick" (as in baby chicken -- not how The Fonz referred to his girlfriends). When tapped this displayed "piyo piyo urusai yo" - which seems to translate as "Shut up little bird" - in the top screen. Presumably you'll eventually end up with a large list of chicken-related words/phrases and amusing responses to tapping on them, but this will be lost on the average gaijin.
The art is very much in the minimalist tradition of airline seating cards with muted colours and a funky hand-drawn style; the sound effects are decent, but nothing special. If you've got nothing better to do with your time it's an amusing little diversion for only 200 DSi Points and certainly more fun than one of those irritating handheld slot machines you see old drunks playing with on the bus -- just don't go into this expecting brilliance!