We recently reported on the disbandment of indie developer Renegade Kid and followed it up with an interview featuring both founding members, Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove. As part of their surprisingly amicable split, both devs have already formed new teams and started work on their own individual projects. We will obviously be keeping tabs on both, but we recently caught up with Jools to preview Chicken Wiggle, the first Nintendo 3DS eShop release from his new development team - Atooi.
As soon as you pick it up and start playing, the feeling of Chicken Wiggle is one of nuanced familiarity. It's a puzzle platformer with a twist – not entirely a surprise when considering the fact that it's from the creative mind behind the Mutant Mudds series. The aesthetic will be immediately recognized by anyone acquainted with Renegade Kid's library of 2D titles, but that's about where the similarities both begin and end.
The premise of Chicken Wiggle revolves around a tiny chicken and his worm pal who must rescue other chicks from labyrinthine stages. The chicken is your main character, handling the majority of work including walking, jumping, and pecking at enemies to knock them off of the screen. Despite doing most of the heavy lifting, our chicken pal wouldn't get anywhere without his trusty worm sidekick.
Residing in the chicken's backpack, and giving off definite Banjo-Kazooie vibes, the worm can be called upon as a sort of projectile weapon/grappling hook – think Link's hookshot from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but a little grosser. Launching the worm at an enemy will stun the creature and stop it in its tracks, but the worm's real purpose lies in its grappling power. The chicken's movement is limited, and he can only hop about one space at a time, but when coupled with the worm's penchant for latching onto walls and acting as a zip line, moving around the two dimensional maps is a breeze.
Chicken Wiggle is easily categorized as a puzzle-platformer, but it still manages to feel fresh and unique within its genre. The stages that we played, while early in the game, felt sprawling, and provided enough of a challenge to keep us wanting more. The difficulty curve was gradual, steadily increasing as new traps, enemies and puzzle elements were introduced on a stage-by-stage basis. The first world acts as a tutorial – one that is effective in teaching its players and a great way to draw them in.
The core of Chicken Wiggle's gameplay is its lighthearted and fun campaign, but we were really blown away by the level creation tool. It was previously mentioned that this game would allow its players to create stages of their own, but we weren't prepared for how fleshed-out the tool set was.
Not unlike the obvious comparison of Super Mario Maker, Chicken Wiggle allows its players to create stages using a grid-based map and a full array of tools based on stage elements from the campaign. Not only were we able to create new stages using the assets from the full game, but we also had the option to change stage objectives, so we weren't limited to simply creating stages that concluded by reaching the end goal. We were also told that there are plans to make custom stages shareable online, and we can't wait to see what unique scenarios the community comes up with.
We may have been exposed to a very early build of Atooi's new game, but the core mechanics were intact; it won't be a surprise to see both the campaign and the stage creation tools built out even more.
While a firm launch date hasn't been announced, this is definitely a release that we'll be looking forward to. One of the advantages of indie development is the focus on the players and the community, something that is exemplified in the words of Jools Watsham regarding his new game: "The response we've seen from people playing Chicken Wiggle for the first time has been wonderful. It is very encouraging and helps us focus our attention while on the final stretch of development."