I don’t think I can actually tell you where my copy of St. Chicken came from–probably a bundle from yesteryear–but I never imagined it was a game about a magical guppy leading its offspring to ancient relics while keeping them healthy and nourished and out of harm’s way. The game’s executable file has sat untouched in my laptop’s “videogames” folder, but I’m trying to make a dent and open up some hard-drive space.
Truthfully, I expected a cutesy, colorful platformer starring a cartoonish chicken, like a throwback to the early Sony/Sega mascot days, on some sort of religious mission to save his or her brethren from factory farm management or an evil tractor while gathering enough eggs to unlock power-ups. Nope.
St. Chicken is a quirky puzzle-lite maze explorer where you play as a lost pet guppy with special healing powers. Basically, you swim around as the titular St. Chicken, collecting white pellets that ding as you touch them, which I imagine are food. As the guppy eats each pellet, it grows larger, and after a set amount, spawns a tiny offspring, called fry, as well as shrinking back down in size. Your fry need to remain close to St. Chicken to stay healthy and alive, and by pressing the space bar you can summon the offspring over all at once. Kind of like the “all units” command from whatever RTS franchise floats your boat.
Your goal is to get all your fry safely to the end of the level where some glowing bit of treasure or relic awaits, which is not as easy as it sounds. Like in Pikmin, your babies are pretty vulnerable, and if an eel or sting ray makes contact with them, they will perish, with no way to get them back. You also have to stay on top of the fact that St. Chicken’s fry are always close because if they linger too long away from their parent, they will perish from general weakness. I ran into a few cases where one little fry got caught behind a wall and didn’t follow the others along the main path, perishing after a few seconds by itself.
From what I can gather, there’s a total of six levels to get through in St. Chicken, each gated by a specific number of rescued fry. Alas, I couldn’t get past the fifth level, as I found it beyond frustrating to lose all of St. Chicken’s offspring right near the end. Granted, it was my fault for not paying close attention, but the thought of going back and redoing the entire level over again–it’s fairly lengthy and tedious by nature due to having to move slowly and meticulously since many paths are blocked off at first–did not excite me. And so I’ll walk away from 2012’s St. Chicken with 64 fry happy and safe from underwater predators, but no more than that.