With its killer chickens and a protagonist that just wants his breakfast, Chuckie Egg may sound like an odd premise for a game, but this early platformer originally for the BBC Micro holds a deerly nostalgic place in my heart. First released in 1983, it's one of my earliest memories of gaming and in revisiting it today, it's still a blast to play.
The release of the BBC Micro was an exciting time for any UK child of the 80s. It was designed to be an affordable top-tier micro computer that would also go on to have a long life in school rooms across the country. It was mostly known for its BASIC programming language and educational titles such as Granny's Garden, but it also saw new classics emerge in the form of Elite and Repton. It's also notable for hosting the first conversion of Star Wars Arcade to the home market. For its time, it was a powerful programming showcase that spawned many a bedroom coder.
|BBC Micro||BBC Micro|
Chuckie Egg was one of those games coded in a teenager's bedroom. At age 16, Nigel Alderton coded the game on the ZX Spectrum, but when publishing company A&F Software bought the rights, a BBC Micro port was commissioned. This version is perhaps the most fondly remembered, mostly due to its ubiquitous presence in any school's computer room.
The premise is a simple one. As Hen-House Harry, you are tasked with collecting twelve eggs on each stage 'cos you're just too darn hungry. The brood of man-sized chickens are having none of this and will kill you in the slightest of touches. For a bit of roughage (and extra points), you can collect bird seed but if a chicken gets there first, they'll stop and munch. On the top left is a giant caged duck who'll be unleashed in the later levels and float around the stage making it even more challenging. Initially, there's only eight single-screen levels which repeat with more enemies in different starting positions. Later releases would increase this number, but it's earliest incarnation has more in common with Donkey Kong than Bubble Bobble.
|Commodore 64||DOS (EGA)|
While somewhat unheard in most of the world, it was a huge success in the UK. Throughout the rest of the decade, it would be ported and re-made on several systems. The most notable of these is the 1988 Amiga remake. It improved the graphics considerably and added additional levels but doesn't have the same charm as the original. The ZX Spectrum looks and plays the same as the BBC Micro, but with that added colour blocks that I've always found to be really distracting. The Commodore 64 port plays well, but the graphics look really off making for quite the ugly adaptation. PC gamers got a decent version with the option for CGA or EGA graphics. The difference between the two is striking with EGA bringing about more colours and nice background art. Each port may hold some interesting differences, but the for me the BBC Micro holds the most nostalgia.
Two years after its first release, Chuckie Egg was popular enough to earn a sequel. Like most European sequels of era, it bears no resemblance to the original (I'm looking at you Wizball 2). Fist released in 1985 for the cheaper Micro Computers that were gaining in poularity (the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC), it too got an Amiga remake in the late 80s. You are still Hen-House Harry (who is inexplicably egg-shaped in the Amiga version), but this time you own a chocolate factory making easter eggs complete with toys inside. The focus has shifted to be more of an adenture platformer much like Dizzy or Blinky but it didn't quite succeed.
|Chucky Egg II (Amiga)||Chucky Egg II (Amiga)|
The puzzles are inventory based but work as a hinderence rather than as an interesting mechanic. They are simple to work out but a little baffling to execute. Picking up and putting down items are mapped to same key, which is TAB by default. Some can only be collected mid-jump which makes for some painful finger gymnastics. Thankfully you can re-map the keys in the menu screen, but you'll need to do this each time you boot it up.
The platforming isn't consistant on each platform either. In the Commodore 64 version for example, you jump higher and further which makes jumping over enemies easier, but precision landing more frustrating. The Amiga version is far more difficult, requiring jumps at the exact moment to clear a foe. The difference is epitomised in only the second screen where you travel underground and are required to leap over moles to collect a bone so you can later distract a dog (yep, it's one of those games). Playing the C64 makes this screen easy, even on the hardest setting. It gets you used to Harry's controls and momentum - he moves how you would expect consistently throughout the game. The Amiga version is stuck on hard with no option to change it. Clearing the moles is frustrating. You literally have to jump within two pixels before you reach its nose. It's not uncommon to lose all of your lives before you even get to the bone, at least for me. It's only really bearable with some of the cheat hacks enabled.
|Chucky Egg II (Commodore 64)||Chucky Egg II (Commodore 64)|
While popular at the time, Chuckie Egg II (known as Chockie Egg in some territories) has aged pretty badly. It has none of the charm or coding skill of the Dizzy games and lacks the bizarre wackiness of Wizball 2. The first game on the other hand is an absolute classic, no matter what system you play it on. It's surprising that there was no arcade release as the pursuit for a high score can reach Donkey Kong levels of hardcore skill. A forgotten classic that comes highly recommended.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses uses DOSBox to bring the PC version to modern systems and FS-UAE to emulate the Amiga versions. The Commodore 64 games are emulated using Vice 64 while the BBC Micro game has been perfectly ported to Flash by Neil Crutchlow. Tested on Windows 10.
31.05.2016 - Version 2 - Fixed error in Menu
FULL LIST OF GAMES
Chuckie Egg (1983 BBC Micro)
Chuckie Egg (1984 Commodore 64)
Chuckie Egg (1988 Amiga)
Chuckie Egg (1989 DOS)
Chuckie Egg II (1985 Commodore 64)
Chuckie Egg II (1989 Amiga)
Chuckie Egg is © A&F Software
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me