Super Chicken Horse Party Maker.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party game that makes as much immediate sense as its name, which is weirdly at odds with its overall playability. This zany two-to-four player platformer is all about quickly laying out traps and platforms trying to make your path to the finish line easy while impeding the progress of your foes. At its best, it’s absolutely nutty and insane, making for a hilarious time. At its worst, it’s frustrating or slow-paced. The way your games go will likely oscillate between the two, depending on the players you’re with and the items you can place. The fun isn’t necessarily consistent, especially with an online mode that makes matchmaking somewhat difficult. Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party game with a narrower focus that requires a little bit of work to get to the glorious gooey center of fun, but when you get there, it’s hysterical.
The design of the main menu, which allows for some exploration of different options, deserves some commendation. Select one of many animals and choose between various modes: Party, Challenge, Creative, and Free Play. Party is the heart of the experience, where each round kicks off with a “Party Box” filled with random platforms, traps, or items. Each player picks one and then lays it out in the level. The goal here is to place a platform so you can complete the level or drop an item to thwart your opponents. Party gets batty at times, especially as it goes on and the level gets filled with all sorts of impediments. Challenge is a race to the finish in custom maps, which can be created locally or downloaded online. Creative is much slower paced and instead of a random Party Box, items can be chosen from an inventory. Free Play is well, you can just play around in an empty level to your heart’s content.
The variety of modes each add a twist on the basic novelty here where players put items into the levels. They seem to all play off each other in smart ways. If Party’s too random, go to Creative to let each player have a bigger bag of tricks to pull from. Want more of a pre-made structured experience? Check out Challenge. Furthermore, the Chimply Amazing game update that comes to other platforms the same day as the Switch launch adds a lot of in-depth customization. Item probability can be tweaked and rule presets can more easily be made. I can’t really compare the updated version to how the game was previously, but it’s all relatively easy to sift through now.
While local multiplayer is probably the best way to play Ultimate Chicken Horse, it also features online play. The Switch version is crossplay with the PC version, which opens up the playerbase. Games are simple to join, but sometimes it’s frustrating to find a random game that actually starts. There’s only so much fun to be had wordlessly messing around in the menu screen. I also regularly joined games that had an opening, only to be kicked out. When I was able to get into an online match, it ran well and, aside from lacking the playful in-person ribbing of local play, was a good time.
The style of Ultimate Chicken Horse is great and when it all comes together, it is a special brand of silly party gaming. Unfortunately, unless you find that perfect situation, the quality of the fun can vary wildly. So much of the amusement here is dependent on having the right people to play with. Find that setup and this is a madcap party game.