Purple Chicken Spaceman. You’re forgiven if you smile at the title. It’s about as silly as they come, but, let it sink in, because it’s going to do exactly that regardless. The game is served as a hard-as-nails 2D space shooter, in which you take on the role of the titular chicken. The game’s story is relayed to you via a small range of stills. The chicken is sleeping, dreaming of shooting aliens from the sky as most chickens undoubtedly do, when all of a sudden the chicken awakens to find that aliens really are attacking the planet. It’s daft, but it does work.
Nevertheless, wearing a fishbowl for a hat, it now falls to the chicken to fight back and set things straight. Let me tell you, the game is hella-tough. Mercifully, it’s a very easy game to understand as far as its handling is concerned. Movement is achieved via the thumbsticks, whereas shooting is tethered to the A button, with LT and RT in place to make use of a shield. Pressing both LB and RB will trigger an explosive screen-clearing attack that tends to come in handy when you’re trying to squeeze out of a tight spot. Simple, and straightforward.
That being said, in order to utilize both the bomb and the shield moves, you’ll need to collect them via pick-ups that you can nab throughout natural play; hidden in eggs that float around each level. The kicker, however, is that the pick-ups cycle, made apparent by a telltale sign that appears on the front of each egg. Will you get a shield? Will you grab a bomb? Maybe you’ll get an extra life? Or, will you be unfortunate enough to get the pick-up that inverts your controls? Hitting these eggs at specific times will determine the outcome.
There’s a short yet informative tutorial at the main menu that explains how to play, but it’s fairly self explanatory regardless. You’ll take control of the chicken and must mow down as many enemies as a level requires before moving onto the level’s boss. There’s a range of levels included here, all of which sport a unique theme and presentation. Throughout the course of each and every level, enemies of all shapes and sizes will flood the screen in an attempt to kill you, many of which house their own distinct movement and attack patterns.
You’re only afforded a few lives to make it through, and a single hit from an enemy does indeed strike a life from your pool. It certainly takes some adapting. I spent what felt like an eternity just getting past the first level, but bear with it, because there’s much satisfaction to be pulled from success here, it’s just a shame that it takes a great deal of perseverance to get there. Utilizing the functions outlined above, you’ll attempt to blast your way through the hordes of enemies that gun for you from all angles in the hopes of facing the boss.
Enemies range the likes of UFOs, flying caterpillar-like creatures, and other outlandish nasties. Starting out, they tend to give you a bit of breathing room, but before long, they’ll practically commandeer your screen with their constant barrage of wide reaching, multi-directional attacks. Understanding your enemies and swift reflexes will be largely required if you’ve any hope for success, that, and a bucket load of patience and forgiveness. Not only because the game is absolutely freaking hard, but because of one god annoying track.
Now, if you’ve a love for songs like this, this, and this, the “Purple Chicken Spaceman” track will be right up your street. I, on the other hand, could not stomach that ear-breaking noise a moment longer than I did. Seriously, it’s frustrating on its own, let alone how much that frustration is amplified after one hundred deaths on the same level, listening to that method of torture. The rest of the tracks are similar, unfortunately. The only other downside outside of that and its overbearing difficulty, is the occasional drop in framerate.
Speaking of difficulty, Purple Chicken Spaceman doesn’t hand out any choice or modifiers. It’s a take it or leave it affair, and given that its base difficulty is clearly for the hardcore, the casuals that want in on the action will be shit out of luck. It’s not a bad game per se, it’s just ridiculously taxing. I’m not a casual player, nor am I a hardcore player. I’ve played a number of 2D shooters in my time, many of which have been tough. This takes things to the next level. I get what the developer was aiming for, but perhaps they’ve missed the mark.
A good space shooter knows where the draw the line between fun and difficult. Here, due to the amount of projectiles that are darting around at once, it often feels less like a space shooter, and more exclusively like a shot evader. No doubt the hardcore fanatics will appreciate this more than most, but between its horrendous track and its soul crushing structure, I couldn’t find the will to continue past my point of progress. Should you successfully kill the required amount of enemies on a level, the level’s boss will appear.
Bosses tend to be gigantic when compared to the standard enemies, and religiously spam you with heaps of varied concentrated attacks. Once you suss out their movements, it becomes case of persevering and rinsing and repeating until you stand victorious, and from then on, you’ll be shoehorned to the next level. The game’s UI is relatively clean and concise; charting lives, pick-ups, and the required number of enemies to be killed along the top of the screen. It’s easy to keep on track of, and sits nicely with the game’s presentation.
Purple Chicken Spaceman sports a vibrant, sharp colorful design. Whilst far from the best we’ve seen from the genre, there’s enough variation on offer to keep things feeling fresh. The whole ordeal comes off very cartoon-like, and to its credit, it’s got a bit of charm going for it as a result. Despite that one track (did I mention how much I hate it), the game’s audio design is so-so. It’s your bog-standard sounding space shooter with some solid, if somewhat generic audio cues backing everything up. Bottom line, and overall? It’s a serviceable game.
Purple Chicken Spaceman is a very hit and miss affair. Whilst it’s quite fun, easy to pick up and understand, and sports a vibrant presentation, it’s far too tempting to throw the controller down in the face of its overbearing difficulty and one horrendously annoying track. Bear with it though, because there’s much satisfaction to pull from success here, it’s just a shame that it takes a great deal of perseverance to get there.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.