There are countless 2D platformers on dozens of consoles over the decades of video game history. This century has also brought us a few sets of tools to make our own 2D platformers with the likes of the LittleBigPlanet and Super Mario Maker franchises. Leave it to indie developer Clever Endeavour Games to mix the playtime and creation aspects of the genre into one of the most laugh-out-loud multiplayer experiences I’ve ever played!
Make like a chicken (or a horse!) and jump to the full review!
Ultimate Chicken Horse
Developed by Clever Endeavour Games
Published by Clever Endeavour Games
Released: 25th September 2018
There’s some serious fun to be had with Ultimate Chicken Horse. My brother, best friend, boyfriend and I played several hours of this game online, and I hesitate to call what we did competitive or cooperative multiplayer. One thing’s for certain: Ultimate Chicken Horse is absolutely intended to be a party experience.
An Animal-Filled Riot
My partner and I were first introduced to this game by our friend who had been exploring the Nintendo eShop for new games to play. I was intrigued that there was a multiplayer-focused platformer I had never heard anything about, and when we jumped into the game the following weekend, the uniqueness of Ultimate Chicken Horse showed itself plain as a horse.
Players choose which animal mascot they want to represent themselves. Each animal plays the same, but whichever one you choose is just one of many wacky elements that gives this game its personality. I was reminded of Heave Ho when I looked at the flat pastel art style, and I was fittingly reminded, seeing how both indie games have a knack for absolute insanity.
Creation of Hilarity and Misery
The most crucial element of this game is its quality to allow players to effortlessly create their own levels in real time. Ultimate Chicken Horse consists of a variety of level backdrops, each with their own gimmick such as electronic blocks that appear over the trails of players’ previous pathways or tribal booby traps that add to the chaos each player creates.
At the beginning of each turn, players are allowed to build at least one platform or obstacle to either assist the team’s progress or impede it. Thing is: if all players make it to the end of a single-screen level, no points are earned. That means that each person’s cunning and creativity are rewarded as much as their platforming skill. Place down a convenient crossbow that your opponents (friends?) don’t realize will kill them, and you might have a cakewalk to the goal. But of course, it’s just as easy to make the game harder on yourself, which is something that happened to our group more times than we could count.
Oftentimes, this dichotomy is a win-win. In our experience, we were either laughing over how hard we collectively made each level or bellowing in amazement that one of us actually made it to one of several goals laden in our own death traps. It’s that kind of push and pull that never lets frustration creep in because everyone is equally getting screwed. Most multiplayer games don’t always feel that even. Ultimate Chicken Horse gives everyone fair chances to alter the level layout (even remove obstacles with explosives when things get too crazy) and complete each course.
Some Flaws Beneath the Craziness
We enjoyed this game flaws and all, but that’s only because the imperfections add further to the insanity on display.
Behind this genius premise is a very simple platformer. Running and jumping are staples of pretty much every 2D game ever made, and while there are some extra features like shielding that can be adjusted, this game of flying fur and feathers isn’t very ambitious without the level creation hell added on top. But it doesn’t have to be; the simplicity is part of what makes this an amazingly accessible online multiplayer gem.
In trying to be accessible, Ultimate Chicken Horse stretches the limits sometimes. The most obvious shortsightedness is the game’s limited camera. If there are multiple players exploring a level at one time, the camera might get so stretched out that projectiles or other objects can barely be seen.
A Treasure Trove of Laughs
Getting a few friends together is the way to play this game. A few of my favorite people and I adored the time we were able to spend with Ultimate Chicken Horse. Several hours over a couple play sessions passed by quickly. And at a low cost on all current-generation systems, Ultimate Chicken Horse is a worthy multiplayer adventure for those who have even basic experience with 2D platformers.
Final Rating – 4 out of 5
Ultimate Chicken Horse is available to play on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
I’ve been playing Nintendo games since I was 3 years old, and my earliest memory is watching my dad play Super Mario 64.
Since then, I’ve become as big of a fan as you might imagine: YouTube video projects, fan fiction, owning just about every amiibo — you name it!
I’m also a stalwart defender of underappreciated games like Skyward Sword, Other M, Super Paper Mario, Star Fox Adventures, Star Fox Zero and more. I love to see passion in a gaming product, and my desire on this site is to share a similar passion in what I write.