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I can't deny that as a name, Chuckie Egg sure stands out against its competition. As a game, I have no idea, but upon seeing the preview image in the 1001 book, I knew it had to be something that came from the old school hobbyist computers of yesteryear. Before my time, when video games were made of rainbows and raspberries.
What does he mean by that? By that I mean it looks charming but sounds like something has gone wrong. Like a cable is faulty or a speaker is going south. But I can't cast aside a video game because of bad sound, no - I cast them aside because I don't have the means to play them myself.
Chuckie Egg was originally developed for a handful of systems - the ZX Spectrum above, the BBC Micro below - and then ported to damn near everything else, so it should be easy to find if you've more luck than I have.
You play as Hen-House Harry, tasked with rounding up a few eggs and not getting eaten by any hens as you climb and jump through eight levels of platforming challenges. Collecting seeds are optional, but beneficial to both your score and your countdown timer, freezing it for a short while. It seems straightforward, and then you loop through the levels all over again and again with increased difficulty, notably in the form of the caged duck now being free to roam the level and hunt you down.
It seems like little more than a time waster until that duck gets going. That duck separates the men from the boys, the skilled from the casual, so I'm told. It turns a little puzzle solver into a test of reaction times, forward thinking and precise control. Before the duck it was about those things, but after the duck even more so, and that's just the first step of increased difficulty, with more hens getting added to the mix later on as well.
It's all too easy to shrug off games from these home computers, simply because of their look and feel. Cobbled together, cheap, lacking polish... Bollocks, I say. Those rainbows and raspberries evoke images and feelings that I've never seen or felt, that's how weird and powerful they are. I can picture the teenager who thinks 'this is a good idea for a game' and I can imagine the programmers making it work.
I remember the first school computer room I had lessons in and getting the chance to play games instead of learning anything remotely useful. While that room was full of Acorns and Lemmings, a few years earlier it could well have been home to some older hardware with a copy of Chuckie Egg, such was its appeal.
Everyone has their inspirations, and I'm sure that the simplicity and success of Chuckie Egg made it an inspiration to a good few people too. It didn't knock people off their chairs, but it kept them glued to their screens.
The various versions of Chuckie Egg are broadly split into two types, based on what kind of physics they have - realistic as seen in the BBC Micro video above, or floaty as seen in the ZX Spectrum video.
Chuckie Egg, developed by A&F Software, first released in 1983.
Versions watched: ZX Spectrum, 1983.
BBC Micro, 1983.