"Save the earth from invading chickens!"
Chicken Invaders 1.3 is a classic retro-style arcade space shooter, in which one or two players can operate a spaceship and defend earth from invasion. Developed by InterAction Studios, Chicken Invaders is one of a series of modern takes on this classic style of game. Available for Windows machines, Chicken Invaders is completely free.
Installation is quick and simple; a wizard is employed with a standard Software License Agreement to accept, a choice of installation directory (requiring at least 9.3 MB of free space) and shortcut placement in the start menu, as well as an option for icon placement on the desktop and the quick launch bar. Setup completes quickly, and has an option to launch the game when complete. The installation process is ad-free and does not attempt to add any accompanying software or toolbars.
Chicken Invasion uses an interface modeled after the classic arcade style games of the 1980s and 1990s. Full-screen graphics focus on a wide playing area laid over the background, and in the initial screen, information on the player controls is displayed in each bottom corner.
Chicken Invasion begins much as any other classic overhead shooter, set in the mode of Space Invaders. Synthesized music from 2001: A Space Odyssey plays over an intro sequence giving a brief background into the game. Once the main title screen displays, you can begin the game using either of two sets of controls which are displayed on the screen. Once the game has begun, a second player may join in. The players control their ships with differing keys on the keyboard, which can make multiplayer a bit challenging. Each player can move back and forth across the screen and fire their laser and rockets, the latter of which are gained through power-ups, but no vertical motion is possible. The first few waves of enemies progress quickly, as the game begins at an easy level, and with few challenges. Soon, though, you begin to be assaulted by asteroids from various directions, and the chickens, your aggressors and the antagonists of the game, begin flying in more unusual patterns and at higher speeds than at game’s start.
Initially, each player begins with a standard one-shot laser. This laser can be fired as fast as you can press the trigger key; which key depends on the player. You cannot, however, hold down the trigger key and be rewarded with a continual stream of fire. Collision with a chicken, an asteroid, or an egg of the sort that the chickens drop as bombs will destroy your ship and cause you to lose a life, of which you have three. The standard chicken requires one shot from the laser to destroy, though this number rises as the levels progress. Destroying a chicken gives you points, as does catching the chicken legs (apparently cooked, to judge by visuals) that each chicken drops when it dies. Boss chickens, bigger and with more firepower, appear every few waves, and require significantly more hits to kill. The asteroids that periodically barrage you can also be destroyed, but do withstand a good amount of fire, which makes them challenging to destroy in time.
At the end of each boss level, you are “warped” to the next system, which will have similar waves of enemies somewhat more challenging than in the previous. When your ship is created onscreen, either initially or after losing a life, your ship gains a temporary shield to protect you from harm. This lasts only a few seconds.
Destroying chickens and asteroids will occasionally yield gifts, little packages that drop down toward the bottom of the screen. Catching these will give you upgrades, in the form of a more advanced laser or a powerful rocket. These power-ups remain with you until you lose a life. The different laser upgrades range in usefulness, but the rockets are quite powerful! Using one can destroy a boss in a single shot.
When you lose all your lives, you are out of the game. If neither player is remaining in the game (or if you were playing single-player), the game ends. You are then given the opportunity to enter your name into the list of high scores which displays on the main screen. You can also upload these scores to the online high score database, but not through the game itself.
The graphics in Chicken Invaders are decent; the sound effects, while a bit repetitive, are entertaining and unique.
The text which periodically appears to notify you of changes and events can be distracting and annoying, as it displays quite often and not always in a context you’d prefer. The game also can only be played in full-screen, and the introductory sequence plays every time you begin the game.
In addition, multiplayer mode can be extremely challenging to execute – four hands on one keyboard gets cramped when each person is pressing controls hurriedly.
Finally, though the chickens get harder to destroy with every level, there is no change in visual appearance, which can make it frustrating to gauge relative difficulty.
There are, of course, many games of this style to be found online, though perhaps none with the curious choices of characters and visuals particular to this game. Space Invaders, and its clones, remain a classic favorite. Among the more interesting alternatives is Space Junkie, an old but high-quality space shooter game with a variety of enemies and a number of subtle features that make for great game-play. You can get Space Junkie for Mac or for Windows.
On the more exorbitant end of the spectrum is Deadly Stars, another free game, this one just for Windows, packed with power-ups, bonuses, and visual effects.
Chicken Invaders 1.3 is a highly unique setting for a classic and beloved style of game. Qualifying it either as excellent or terrible largely depends on personal preference; nonetheless, Chicken Invaders offers up a good dose of retro-style game-play in an amusing medium for all who seek a bit of casual entertainment.
For its unusual take on classic gaming, Chicken Invaders 1.3 by InterAction Studios earns 3 out of 5 stars.
Requirements: Pentium 166MHz, DirectX 7.0
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