Ultimate Chicken Horse (Switch) Review
Release Date: September 25th, 2018 (Switch Edition)
Publisher/Developer: Clever Endeavour Games
Platform: Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4 (previously reviewed), Xbox One, Steam
I suppose the best compliment I can give Ultimate Chicken Horse is how little I've played it. I reviewed the PlayStation 4 release in December of last year. One of my critiques was how it was harder for my young kids to pick up but how I was sure that they would enjoy it if given the chance. Well, in the months since then my boys persisted. Ultimate Chicken Horse has been at least a weekly endeavour for them, and they regularly got the parents in on it as well. Despite the online abilities, UCH consisted in proving my biggest compliment true: it's a wonderful party game for a group of four in the same room.
When the chance came up for reviewing the upcoming Switch release, I jumped on it and offered for it to be reviewed on my son's Switch account on the condition that I got to use it for the review, leaving the title in his digital library when I was done. While I've been able to play a bit, it has only been in multiplayer with my son! Any time he's had game time it's been more Ultimate Chicken Horse. I instantly knew that this game continued to hold its charm that has captivated my family since the PS4 release.
My kids have stretched the boundaries of the title by using the random deathtraps to craft whatever they wanted, like the time my youngest made his interpretation of the final battle with Dark Beast Ganon on Breath of the Wild. I guess the purpose of this paragraph is two fold: show off my kid's work and discuss how the game is more than the sum of it's parts. Our family has had more fun putting together silly traps and challenging each other than having serious competitions, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Ultimate Chicken Horse finds a welcome spot on the Switch, offering that quick party gameplay the title is known for. Choosing one of a variety of silly animals you play a literal game of Chicken Horse by placing random deadly traps between two points and challenging each other to see who can get through the obstacles. A constant balance of risk and reward gives a serious "I can do one better" feeling to matches.
For the Switch release, a new "Chimply Amazing" update has been added. Within, there is an extra chimp character, new levels, and PC/Switch cross play. The game also adds new blocks, such as a crumbling block and an interactive boxing glove you can activate mid-level to wallop someone hot on your tail. New modes add a whole new dimension to gameplay, such as a flat race mode that places scores solely on finish order, or limiting weapons to a particular set. While I dig the new boxes, I don't like how the crumbling boxes don't restore after a run. It makes for some fun precreated levels, but not for the slapdash party modes.
There's plenty more added to the game that makes it a meatier experience, but these updates are coming to other systems as well. It may not be worth the double-dip if you already own the title unless the portable aspect is that big of a draw to you. It is the ideal place for a console owner to get it as a first-time purchase with the split Joy-Con adding an instant second controller, but I'd have liked to have seen some touchscreen functionality in handheld mode.
In the time my kids have rigorously played the game together on PS4, they really haven't unlocked a lot. While new levels pop up, most of the outfit and character unlocks come from finding "mystery boxes" in the levels and those have been few and far between. Knowing the "Chimply Amazing" bonus stuff would likely come after unlocking everything else with bare-bones startup, I searched and found the "unlock everything" code used on previous versions. It still works here and unlocks the new content as well. On other systems this would seal off achievements. With no achievement system on Switch there isn't much penalty to doing this instead of working your way up.
Ultimate Chicken Horse on Switch offers the same crazy party fun and online challenge modes as previous releases but adds all of the benefits of Switch portability. The addictive gameplay is great if you can find a consistent set of gamers to play with, whether you are after the competitive gameplay or want to create a challenging level for your friends or online opponents to take on. Read my previous review if you need anything more in depth, but the extra modes (that are also added to other versions) provide whole new ways to play.
-Local co-op is a blast
-Even more content this time around with races, specialized challenges, more levels and characters
-Switch offers quick access to local gameplay
-Really not for solo play
-I'd like the choice to respawn or allow the crumble blocks to go away
-Not much incentive to keep you from just popping the "unlock all" code
Thanks again to Clever Endeavour for providing a copy of the game (and hours of family fun) for review!