Disney was once the undisputed king of animated films, but with the rise of Pixar and other CG animation studios, the revered company has fallen a bit behind the times. But the mouse house will soon rectify that situation by releasing its first fully 3D children's movie, Chicken Little, and we got to check out a new version of the tie-in action game from Buena Vista Interactive and developer Avalanche. Based on initial impressions, Chicken Little looks to offer a ton of different activities for gamers in that tender 6-to-12 demographic.
Everyone knows the fable of Chicken Little, right? Well, that's not the story you're getting here. Chicken Little isn't too popular around town, thanks to all that "sky is falling" business from a while back, and the focus of the movie (and consequently the game) is Little's quest to prove himself in the eyes of his noble father, Buck Cluck, and the rest of the citizenry. Luckily, there's a handy alien invasion to fight off, so Chicken Little and his friends Abby Mallard (the Ugly Duckling), Fish-Out-of-Water, and Runt of the Litter will have ample opportunity to prove their mettle.
Chicken Little will offer roughly 20 action levels that let you play not only as the clucky hero but also as the members of his motley gang. Platforming will be the main mode of play, and we got to check out a level in which Chicken Little roams the city streets, climbing up drainage pipes and ladders to reach the rooftops and jump from building to building. Little's main mode of attack will be his yo-yo, which will also come in handy for getting up to higher places when you pick up the grapple upgrade. The platforming looked simplistic, as though a child could handle it, yet solidly entertaining, with narrow pipes to balance across and platforms that drop when you jump on them. The art style looked consistent with what we've seen of the movie, with disproportionate houses set at strange angles and other quirky features.
The platforming won't be the only thing you get to do in Chicken Little, though--the game will contain 11 separate gameplay mechanics, according to Buena Vista. We got to see another level that drops you into a flying saucer and tasks you with some good old-fashioned third-person shooting. Your mission: Blow up everything in sight (or so it seemed). Even this level had what looked to be a good amount of depth, with power-ups for things like missiles and shields scattered about.
We got to see a couple of other quick levels before our demo ended. One had Fish-Out-of-Water hurtling down a tunnel in a Tempest-like tube shooting level, and he could fire bursts of water at enemies while avoiding obstacles like arcs of electricity. We were told that Runt, the big fat pig, would also participate in such a level but that he'd be rolling himself down the tunnel (which would presumably confer some different abilities).
Another level was a rail shooter of sorts in which you have to use a historic cannon in the town square to fight off marauding flying saucers. Multiple levels of difficulty were available here. In the first section, the saucers merely swarmed around, while in the second segment, they actually fired back. The third leg of this level will see you moving in a truck while trying to take down the last of the invaders. This section had some neat interactivity with the environment, since you could use your cannonballs to demolish the trees in the square and even surrounding buildings.
Chicken Little will have some bonus activities, like you'd expect in a platforming-based action game of this type. Primarily, you'll be looking for five Buck Cluck cards in each level. Once you find enough of these cards, you'll unlock a number of two-player minigames that you can access from the game's main menu. There ought to be plenty of variety in the main game, too, since each playable character has unique abilities. While Chicken Little relies mainly on his yo-yo, for instance, Abby will have the ability to glide.
Chicken Little is looking like a fully featured game that ought to appeal to any rug rats who enjoy the upcoming movie. But beyond that, there seem to be enough different types of action packed into the game that even older gamers could have fun with it for a while. Much of the movie's voice cast, notably Zach Braff of Scrubs and Garden State as Chicken Little, will make an appearance in the game, which ought to help sell the experience. Chicken Little is due out on all platforms in October, a couple of weeks before the movie hits theaters.