Chuckie Egg for the ZX Spectrum is widely regarded as a cult classic platform game.
Released in early 1984 by A&F Software, Nigel Alderton (who was only 17 years old at the time) had created a game that was one of the better titles in the genre as soon as it was released.
Nigel would go on to work on other classic ZX Spectrum games over the next couple of years including the excellent arcade conversions of Commando and Ghosts n Goblins.
In Chuckie Egg, our hero was a portly little dude sporting a big hat named Hen House Harry (you'd only get these names in the 80's eh?) You had to work your way around the game screen collecting the dozen eggs as you went whilst avoiding the roaming and agitated chickens.
All of this was done against the clock, which counted down relentlessly as you ran around the screen.
The screens were nicely designed at the time, putting many of the eggs in hard to reach places. The screens were drawn with combinations of short platforms, ladders allowing you to move up and down and elevators which you could step on to and off with good timing.
You would begin the game with five lives and you would lose one of these by touching a hen (how did hens become so deadly?) or by falling through a gap at the bottom of the screen (some platforms had gaps in them which had to be jumped across.)
There were piles of bird-seed dotted around the screens which could be collected for bonus points. Collecting the seeds also paused the countdown timer for a few seconds - which could make all the difference to you on the more difficult levels.
A hen would also stop and eat any seed it walked over, which could be advantageous for you as the hen would stop and eat whilst you went around collecting the eggs.
Hen House Harry had the usual platform moves, go left, go right and jump. There were eight levels to play through in total all which had a caged duck at the topmost area of the screen. If you managed to complete all eight levels then the game would go back to level one, this time with the now un-caged duck chasing you as you attempted to collect the eggs. The duck could move around more freely than the hens - it was not affected by the layout of the platforms at all.
Chuckie Egg was well received when it was released. ZX Spectrum gamers enjoyed the tricky screen layouts and the fast paced action. Each level took a fair bit of planning to play through, the design of the screens was pretty impressive. This gameplay coupled with the bright colours and nice animation ensured that Chuckie Egg was an instant hit. One drawback was the relatively high price of £7.90 - but the game went on to be a big hit nevertheless.
The test of time:
Here in the our homage to Spectrum Games we reckon that Chuckie Egg remains a platform / arcade classic. Of course it is a very simple game, but the action is still pretty fast, and you have to work out how best to beat each level. Once the duck is released things heat up a lot - I can't believe I used to be able to beat it! As far as platformers go, the later levels will scramble you. It may even make you crack up. Whilst not on the same level as Manic Miner or Tecnhician Ted, Chuckie Egg remains a cult classic platform game.
This classic ZX Spectrum game is definately worth cracking after all these years.
Give this one a go and bring it home to roost. Try not to get too egg-sited though.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Chuckie Egg for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Platform game (Arcade game)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1984
RELEASED BY: A&F Software
DEVELOPER(S): Nigel Alderton
PRICE: £7.90 - UK
Hen House Harry ambles around level 1 in Chuckie Egg - classic arcade action:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games
Chuckie Egg is another great game. The gameplay is extremely fast paced and the squelchy sound fx give a far more manic feel than the sedate and methodical manic miner.
I also completed the game up to the level where the duck is let loose out of the cage and then it started to get really tough.
I really like the ability to jump onto ladders even in the middle and the fact that height didn't kill you in the game (but the void below did).
The collision detection was a bit unforgiving and the attribute clash did cause a few issues at the time, but I always preferred a colourful game with attribute game rather than a monochrome game without.
The joy of this game is just in the playing of it. It's hard to describe really. It does look terribly terribly dated but the gameplay remains unique to this day and that is why it has and will continue to stand the test of time.
I played Chuckie Egg 2 a few times but never really felt it lived up to its predecessor. The screens were too bland and the pace was much slower. The graphics were technically better but these days, a speccy game with great graphics looks very much the same as a Speccy game with average graphics in the face of modern graphics so gameplay, quite rightly is king.
Incidently, if you are looking for modern equivilents of pre-1986 Speccy games and have an iPhone, I highly recommend games by 'Donut Games'. They have the gameplay conventions of the early 80s games with graphics of early 90s Amiga games.
Brilliant game, something about the way that Harry leapt around the screen, really smooth animation, and then the sense of anticipation as you knew the big bird was about to come after you. A classic and I would say better than it's BBC Micro equivalent.
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