Ultimate Chicken Horse is an indie multiplayer platformer that released on PC in 2016. It was recently ported to Nintendo Switch, having previously been ported to Playstation 4 and Xbox One. To celebrate this port, the game received the Chimply Amazing update which added new content and a cute Monkey character, which was also added to its other platforms.
It is one of the many indie games that have flocked to the new platform after its resounding success, following the footsteps of games like Enter the Gungeon and Night in the Woods. As a multiplayer only game, it should work well on the Switch; tt has every chance to succeed, but does it meet expectations?
What is Ultimate Chicken Horse?
In Ultimate Chicken Horse (UCH), you play as a cute cartoon animal with excellent dress sense. as you attempt to platform to the end of the level. The platforming mechanics are very simple; you can run, crouch, jump and wall jump. And dance. There is a button specifically for dancing.
Between turns, players have to work together to build the level using platforms and traps. If you are able to reach the end of the level, you get points, as long as someone else fails to complete it. The 2 aspects of the gameplay, building and platforming, are very different skills but they work together well to create deceptively simple yet infinitely enjoyable gameplay. You have to build the level in a way that only you can get to the end of it, so balancing the difficulty of the level is always difficult, especially since all the other players are trying to do the same thing.
There are lots of different things to consider: each level has different environmental hazards to play around and there are a wide variety of construction blocks, including spikes, single-use platforms and projectile launchers. You can block projectile launchers, blow up existing platforms and add effects like ice or glue to make platforms more difficult to traverse. In addition to the standard Party mode, there are also Challenge levels that you can play solo, with leaderboards for the fastest finishes.
The Chimply Amazing update added even more content to the game, including new blocks and levels as well as the new Monkey character. The new levels in particular add a lot in terms of gameplay. The Mainframe forces you to take a new route through the level every time by turning your path from the previous turn into blocks. The Crumbling Bridge decays as you play through the level, using the new Crumbling Blocks that disappear after being jumped on a few times. The Nuclear Plant level has a big elevator and…. Well, that’s not the most interesting level, but it is new.
On top of the crumbling block, there is also the Boxing Glove that punches whenever a player or a projectile hits it and the Slowatch that slows down time for a few seconds when touched. There are also new customisation options, allowing players to make every game completely unique. You can customise block probabilities, allowing you to control how chaotic games can become. The rules can change dramatically by changing point values and there are new preset game modes like races and “saws only” (where the only blocks that appears are some sort of saw) that force you to change up your strategy.
Taking a different perspective, it is clear that this game, for all of its variety, will eventually lose its charm. The pure simplicity of the game limits its long-term playability due to the lack of additional mechanics. Additionally, when comparing Ultimate Chicken Horse to a similar game, Super Mario Maker, UCH has a significantly worse single player experience. There is no automated challenge mode, so if you want to try all of the community-made challenge levels, you have to download levels 4 at a time. To counter this, you can play solo by joining random multiplayer games online, but a local multiplayer session will always be more exciting. When testing the game, there were some connectivity issues and crashes, however there have been plenty of bug-fixes since the release.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is cute and approachable on the outside but deep enough to sink hours into. There is so much flexibility in terms of game modes with an active community constantly developing new custom levels. You can focus on the competitive aspect or attempt to break records in the challenge mode, providing a near-endless supply of platforming. With local co-op, the Switch is the Ultimate Platform for this game.
In conclusion, Ultimate Chicken Horse is one of the best indie party games on the market. It is a great starting point for non-gamer partners or friends and could easily replace a family board game night. The game caters to both the casual and the competitive player, suitable for all ages and deserves your time.