Review: Crazy Chicken Pirates 3D (3DS eShop)

This poultry is paltry

There's a story in Crazy Chicken Pirates 3D, but believe us, you won't need one. The game — whose title reads about as gracefully as magnetic poetry — sees you gunning down chickens for 90 seconds. Then, we guess, you can do it again. If you'd like to. You may not, but the option to play again is about the only option the game gives you at all, so we'll take it.

The controls, thankfully, are great — at least in the main stage. Bonus stage controls are another issue, but we'll get to those in a moment. The main game sees you aiming with the stylus and firing with the L button. It's an arrangement fans of Kid Icarus: Uprising are familiar with, and it works just as well here. It's easy to aim and fire, and as those are the main actions of the game, that's a good thing.

Reloading is handled by tapping a small button on the touch screen, and there's a score penalty for doing so, which helps to inject an element of conservative strategy to proceedings, rather than reward mindless chicken massacre.

Unfortunately the game itself consists of only a single stage, and there is a strict time limit of 90 seconds... both of which dampen the fun a great deal. The lack of any other stages means that you will literally see everything this title has to offer within a minute and a half, and there won't be any reason to return unless you'd like to better your score. The stage is populated with comical animations and hidden items, but they aren't randomised so once you've seen them there's no novelty in a return visit.

Teyon's own Bird Mania 3D also featured a single stage, but its endless nature and randomly generated layouts made it worth revisiting. Here it's the same experience every time, and that's a problem.

Interestingly enough, the fact that the stage always plays out the same way can lend itself to some interesting strategising. After all, with only 90 seconds to play with, every shot needs to count, and some shots can count more than others. Triggering certain events can lead to big score bonuses, and avoiding the targets that provide smaller rewards is wise. We won't spoil them for you here, but if you consult the manual you'll see a more or less exhaustive score breakdown, along with tips on how to earn a few extra seconds or a better gun. All of this sounds good, but the measly 90 seconds you're given by default makes the experience feel cramped and unsatisfying.

If you achieve a high enough score, you will be taken to a bonus stage in which you fire a shipboard cannon at approaching chicken boats. Sentences like that, by the way, are the reason we love to review video games.

The bonus stage's controls aren't quite as good. You drag the stylus to aim and fire the weapon, but it's simply too sluggish to be much fun. The bonus stage in general feels improperly refined, and more like some leftover feature that is still attached to the game despite the fact that it clearly never made it past the beta stage.

The animations are smooth but the character designs are an acquired taste, and the 3D effect doesn't really affect gameplay much. The music is forgettable but certainly not bad.

One more major issue is that this game errs in the same way as Bomb Monkey, which is to say that it's a score attack game that never makes it easy for you to see how your score compares to others. Unless you memorize your score before the level ends, you won't know where on the list you just ended up. That's a huge missed opportunity, and the fact that you have to enter your name fresh each time — rather than having separate profiles for quick entry — just makes it feel laborious. Spending 40 seconds entering your name after only 90 seconds of gameplay is a criminal imbalance.

Conclusion

Crazy Chicken Pirates 3D isn't bad, but it's certainly disappointing. As much potential as there was for a fun, frantic shooting gallery, the 90 second time limit really hampers the experience. The single stage on offer here may well keep you entertained for a few minutes, but there's no denying that this chicken is underdone.

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