Avatar ‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ – mini review

“The sun rolled over for the last time of that week. I checked my chagrin; it was sitting on a fence down by the side of the street that I daren’t walk on anymore. The air was crisp and clear, it kissed my cheeks and promised me more than it could ever give. I tipped my hat and headed on my way.

‘Chicken Police’ is exactly how it sounds; it is a video game where you play as Sonny Featherland who is both a policeman and a chicken. These are very important details. Sonny, like all of the characters, has a human body but an animal head. His hands do various non-chicken things like pointing and holding guns. He talks like a character from a detective novel from the 1940’s and looks like a modern day Humphrey Bogart would… if he was a chicken.

At the start of the game you are currently 120 days away from retirement and Sonny has been put on suspension by his hard-hitting police chief. Locked away in his hotel room of an office, he is visited by a mysterious femme fatale who wants him to work a case outside the law for her client. With curiosity gnawing at his mind and nothing much else to do, he recruits his old partner Marty to help him work out just what is happening on New Year’s Eve in the city of Clawville.

‘Chicken Police’ is a very simple point and click adventure game. You won’t find any absurd puzzles here (see ‘the moustache’ from ‘Gabriel Knight III’ or ‘the goat puzzle’ from the original ‘Broken Sword’) as everything is catered to the more casual gamer. You can look at things, pick things up, talk to / ask people questions and eventually interrogate them after a period of time (where you are graded on how quickly and effectively you obtained the information you needed to progress the story). You travel between key locations on the map around the city trying to piece the puzzle together. There is the main plot to follow but you can also visit other places to chat and procure achievements for doing certain things; you know, typical video game fodder.

The visuals are lovely, like a new summer’s morn. All of the locations and characters look almost real despite the aforementioned animal head looking back at you. This is coupled with a moody soundtrack and excellent voice acting by all the main cast. The story is interesting and varied and twists at the right points to lead your expectations into red alleys and dead herrings.

Where it falls down is that it is a little too easy. There are no penalties for failing to ask the right questions (you can even re-do the entire conversation if you want to get a higher rating), you cannot die and when you are trying to assemble the clues into a cohesive structure the game is all too happy to tell you where you are going wrong and nudge you in the right direction. The dialogue is a little clumsy too, where what is being said by the characters doesn’t match the written account at the bottom. There are also numerous instances of double spaces where there shouldn’t be (such an egregious error). Sometimes you’ll ask questions of someone and then press the talk button only to instigate a conversation that was leading up to you asking questions, as if you were supposed to talk first (perhaps even more than once) and then choose to question them. The game doesn’t want to move things along based on what you’ve already done making it a little disjointed.

These are only minor gripes though. For the 5 to 10 hours I spent playing it I enjoyed every moment. It’s more a visual novel with light puzzle sections than anything else. It’s also very funny and I do hope that the developers make a sequel.

‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ is available on Steam, Playstation 4, X Box and Nintendo Switch.

Avatar The Pompadoose Moose

In my long and illustrious career as, well, pretty much everything and everyone I have achieved a number of accolades to my name. I’m not going to list them all here because we don’t want it turning into one of those back-slapping exercises that other people seem to indulge in. I’m far too shy and retiring for that.

That said, I suppose 2020 was the worst time to change my career. I decided to be an animalogist just as the Bovona virus took hold of the world and squeezed it like a sad lemon to make a tiny droplet of lemonade so lacklustre it would fail to quench the thirst of a dung beetle.

For those not in the know, animalogists are those people who look like they got dressed in the dark / with their eyes closed and go out into the world to record all the different types of animals living in the world. All of them from such famous ones as the Alaskan mountain nut boar and the wig herons to the common ‘o garden hassle mice, they all need to be documented as many times as possible so that when you meet one of them you know what their star sign is and how they take their coffee.

When I was (secretly) roaming the more uninhabitable parts of Northern Russia in the later months of the year I came across a species of moose that was yet undocumented. It was tall and graceful, with a large volume of hair that took up most of the horizon line. I could see many nests of birds hiding in there. Worn high over its forehead, it was the most stylish moose I have ever seen with my moose-viewing eyes (they were commissioned especially for this expedition). After a general introduction I started asking it all of the pertinent questions starting with shirt size, favourite astronaut and whether or not their rivalry with raccoons had been blown out of proportions over the last few decades.

The information I acquired was priceless. In my bag I had reams and reams of paper filled to the brim with a veritable cornucopia of details. I was going to offer the definitive take on this new breed, coupled with one of my award-winning and best-selling books to boot. The only downside is that the pompadoose moose would not allow me to take its photo. I could ask all the questions I wanted but the world was not ready for its beauty and so I left pictureless.

To gaze upon its pompadour and its grace was a treasure like no other. I only hope that when the world is ready for it, that I am there at the front, pushing everyone else out of the way, ready with my trusty Kodak Ektralite to record that wonderful moment.

Avatar ‘Void Bastards’ – mini review

When it comes to video games I am equally attracted to both the box art and the title itself. ‘Void Bastards’ immediately jumped on my radar when I was reading about it last year and recently I managed to pick it up in the sale for the reasonable cost of twenty sheets.

It’s available on Nintendo Switch (where I’ve been playing it), XBox One, PS4 and Steam so just about anyone can get their sweaty paws on it.

You play as one of an infinite supply of dehydrated prisoners who is brought back to life because the spaceship is on the fritz, stranded and floating in space. Your task is to use your widdle wocket to fly to derelict vessels in the area, steal everything that isn’t nailed down, hopefully find some useful item that you can use to smush together with something else to make a better item and, eventually, fly the fuck out of there.

Played from a first-person perspective, as you infiltrate the various spaceships you encounter enemies and other environmental hazards such as radiation, fire and oil which makes you slip everywhere. Sometimes the generator is down so you have to turn the electricity back on before you can start sniffing around for junk. Sometimes the lights are off and you have to peer through the darkness hoping not to trip any alarms. Each vessel is randomly generated, using the same series of rooms mixed up each time, so whilst it can be repetitive you can never guarantee what you will get every time.

Movement is responsive and fluid. The graphics are cartoony, cell-shaded and fits the feel of the game perfectly. Progression is measured by certain milestones broken down into smaller achievements such as making weapons, armour and other items. You need to keep your supplies of fuel and food topped up otherwise you’ll be stranded for good or die from starvation. Your time on each ship is limited due to the small supply of oxygen (usually less than ten minutes) granted so you have to be fast and you have to be precise.

The only real downside, other than the aforementioned repetition, is the humour. The game sadly isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. There’s an enemy called a ‘Janitor’ who walks around and when he hears you approaching he shouts, “Gary! Is that you?”. Smaller enemies called ‘Juves’ call you names such as twatface and dickwad in their nasal almost Mancunian accent. The AI on your spaceship tries desperately to ape the peerless deadpan narration of ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ with not great success. If you can get past this, you’ll find lots to enjoy. It’s a shame though because ‘Journey to the Savage Planet’, a similar game in structure and tone, is a lot funnier.

8 voids out of 10

Avatar Fundraising

Man has been raising money since the dawn of time.

It all started with Jesus being bet that he couldn’t be killed, buried AND come back to life. He took that bet and started going round the local villages asking for sponsor money, rattling down dem neighbours with his charm and natural-born charisma. Three days later, with a pocket full of sponsorship money, he walked away and donated it all to the burly orphans of the holy mother and disappeared. What a guy (I believe that’s how it went down, I don’t really remember much from R.E. at school).

Since then everyone has wanted a piece of the action. There are so many many MANY good causes out there. If you can think of something or someone having a hard time then there will be a charity in its name, winking in your general direction and hoping you will slip something in their back pocket. With this in mind, how could you ever choose which to help, which to slide the burden onto your manly shoulders? My personal advice would be to spin a wheel or flip a coin.

For the whole month of April I am walking for women.

*comedy voice* why can’t women walk for themselves?

Well, comedy voice, the fact is they can but I am also walking for them, with them. I’m stepping into their shoes and loaning my legs to do a good thing. It’s not all altruistic though because I get fresh air and exercise in return for my walking. It’s all for selfish reasons. All I was hoping for was a bunch of people staring at me whilst I walked and it is paying off big time. I wouldn’t do it unless I got something out of it. Call me a sociopath all you like but that’s how I roll and you’ll all have to deal with it. Oh, how I am such a good at the walking too. You’ve not seen walking until you’ve witnessed my awe-inspiring thighs crossing your path.

So stop your grinning and drop your linen, give me / they / them money now by using the link and being a good guy. I feel almost as inspirational as the time we did that exercise and I ate biscuits in ‘Nish 3’.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/845080713017722/

Avatar House

There will, I expect, be more posts from me on this subject in the near future, because it has become a very large part of my life. But for now, it is probably enough to say that getting yourself a house is an enormous process that takes up a lot of your time and energy, and has far reaching consequences for the whole of your life. It is difficult and tiring.

On the other hand, though, it’s one of the best things ever, and it has made us this happy.

Normal service will resume in February. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be trying to find something in a box that is under three other boxes at the back of a room full of boxes.