Local multiplayer games are some of the fondest memories I have playing video games as a child. Everything from Super Smash Bros Melee to Halo 2 holds a place in my heart. Unfortunately, that type of game is slowly being thrown out of the industry in favor of online play. Games like League of Legends and Call of Duty are taking over.
That brings me to Ultimate Chicken Horse from Clever Endeavour. I played this game back when it came out on PC. Since the announcement that it would be ported to Switch, I have been anxiously awaiting the day of its arrival. Now that it’s here, I’m going to tell you why I think the game is one of the best local multiplayer games on the market.
Simple Controls, Great Challenge
The reason games like Mario Party and Crash Team Racing were so popular with families is because of how easy they were to control. Even your little sister could pick up a controller and know how to play the game in a few rounds. The same can be said for Ultimate Chicken Horse. There isn’t much to the game other than learning how to run, jump, and climb up walls. That’s it.
It’s how the game forces you to master these controls that makes it stand out. The goal of the game is to get from the starting point to the goal. The catch is that the road to get there is entirely made by you and your friends. At the start of each run, a box opens, which gives you access to all sorts of platforms and traps. This is where Ultimate Chicken Horse hits its stride.
What makes things even more interesting is that, if all players make it to the goal, no one gets any points. This means that players constantly have to balance adding to the path so they can reach the goal, while simultaneously stopping other players along the way. It’s a risk versus reward game without ever directly telling you that it is. You can choose to make the path easier or throw in a trap that has an equal chance of tripping you up as well as your friends.
Having players make their own paths is brilliant in more than one way. Not only does it add an element of strategy to a goofy platforming game, but it also injects an organic sense of variety. You will never play the same level twice, considering that every level is created by the players.
The game does reward you for playing, though. After every two games or so, you can enter a stage that has a box marked with a question block. Touch it, and you unlock either a new outfit, character, or stage. On the topic of stages, this adds more variety, as each stage requires a different type of route to make it to the goal, as well as some new hazards along the way. I do wish that there was a faster way of unlocking everything because it can feel like a bit of a grind to get all that Ultimate Chicken Horse has to offer.
On top of extra stages, Ultimate Chicken Horse also allows players to play around with the mode. You can turn the game into a creative mode where you just make a level to your liking and then test it out. Then there’s a race mode which throws players into a complex course that they must complete before the rest. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, then you can set your own custom rules. There are just so many things to try that it’s overwhelming. That said, you can just stick with the party mode the entire time and still have lots of fun. After all, switching between modes and rules can be cumbersome.
A Nearly Perfect Port
One of the problems I had with Ultimate Chicken Horse on PC was that, as a local multiplayer game, it was a bit challenging to huddle four people around a computer monitor. On the Switch, it finds a much better-suited home on a big screen TV or on-the-go in a coffee shop. While the phrase has certainly lost its meaning the past several months, the game is “perfect on Switch.” There is a bit of an asterisk, though. During my playtime with the game, it did crash on me once, but it seemed to be an isolated occurence, and I was quickly able to jump back into it.
The gifts don’t stop there, though. Ultimate Chicken Horse works online and can cross-play between the Switch and PC versions. The online is likely a feature that most players won’t use, as the game is better locally, but it’s still a welcome addition nonetheless.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Ultimate Chicken Horse was provided by Clever Endeavor.