One look at the cover art for the NES version of Alfred Chicken tells me all I need to know about what I’m going to be able to expect from the game. As expected it has the main character which you control on the cover. He looks a bit like a chicken; though I feel if you didn’t call him Alfred Chicken right there on the cover art that there could be some debate. Regardless of this, Alfred Chicken was a 1993 release meaning it was towards the end of the lifespan for the NES. It was also released for a bunch of other consoles including the Game Boy and the SNES. Obviously I would be expecting less of the NES version than what the SNES variation likely has to offer due to the limitations of the console. But with the game being released across so many platforms and a marketing campaign that even included a political party called the Alfred Chicken party there should be something to look forward to here right? I’m still not too hopeful even with these details in mind.
I quickly find out that I’m right to be skeptical. I struggle to enjoy the game from the moment I start playing it. The controls are not enjoyable in way at all and they don’t really make sense. Doing simple things like attacking feels unintuitive and make it difficult to enjoy playing. A good example of this is that to do your attack, a peck on the ground of course, you have to press the down button. This isn’t the worst as, yes he does peck downwards so pressing the down button does make some sense, but when you consider there is an unused button on the control which you would be more included to use naturally it tends to make a bit less sense. Not only this but the attack is useless towards enemies if you’re stood next to them. In order to defeat any of the numerous foes, you have to jump in the air and attack from above via a divebomb. The move itself isn’t awful but as a way to generally beat up the enemies rather than being a secondary optional move, it’s inconvenient. The game has everything you will expect from a platformer but doesn’t really offer many unusual features, though the fact that in various parts of the game you have got sloping terrain which was a surprisingly nice touch. Something else that I found surprising, and not in a good way, was that the first checkpoint you reach is literally on the same screen as your starting point. I know that if you die pretty early on before reaching another checkpoint it makes it clear what they are, but it would be of more use to place it a little further away than where you begin as at that point you may as well just restart.
Graphically the game is a bit behind for something released in 1993, even by the standards of the NES. As a platformer you expect some things to be collectable but it’s hard to even tell the background from the foreground at times and some things that look like you’d be able to interact with are actually just decoration for the level. Alfred himself is red and yellow – the main colour that you expect a chicken to be. The enemies look lacklustre and none of them are really related to chickens that much. It’s just a little hard to piece together and with a few changes to some of the sprites it may be visibly more coherent but as it stands it’s pretty sub-par. Which brings me nicely onto the music in the game which may be one of the worst soundtracks for any game I’ve heard so far. It’s a mess of notes that bleed into one another and fight for your attention. The loops are not long and become annoying after even ten minutes of playing. The best word I can use to describe the audio in general, and not just the music, is unpleasant.
Do I recommend playing this game? Personally I would suggest staying away from this mess of a game. There’s no real redeeming qualities for me and considering the vast number of platforming titles for the NES, this game is really not worth going out of your way for. There’s so many better games you could spend your time on and really the only reason to buy this game is if you’re a collector.