Fluster Cluck is a brand new game to hit the PSN that embraces the old style of couch co-op, that is to say, physically sitting down with your friends for some quality game time. This is what Fluster Cluck’s entire ad campaign is about. That and how the game’s universe revolves around ‘Chikkin’. You absolutely can sit down and play 4 player co-op with your friends in this game but sadly, you probably won’t want to.
The basic premise of the game is that you are a ‘Chikkin Koop’ employee whose sole purpose in life to make Chikkin and advance through the corporate ranks. Each map you play has a ‘Chikkin-izere’ where you can drop anything and everything into and whatever it is gets turned into Chikkin and you are awarded points.
Each level is a 4 player free-for-all as you and three other opponents each vie to procure the most points. You can either play by yourself against three computer opponents or, as I stated above, you can play with up to three other friends as one of six ‘Chikkin Coop’ employees. As you level up, acquiring a new business title with each rank, you unlock ships, accessories, weapons and new pick-ups.
The game tries its best to recreate a retro game that had all the fun of party games from about a decade ago. Unfortunately, they seem to have misfired in every aspect. Right off the bat, the controls are clunky at best. Moving the camera and shooting both require the right joystick, so I was shooting every time I turned and aiming my gun was almost comical in how ridiculous it was. The maps are incredibly small, and the ‘Chikkin’ maker is usually in a corner, so it was almost pointless to be anywhere else as you could just wait and shoot people when they came in (if you could hit them, that is). In the single player, you can pretty much blast through each map with ease. The only time I didn’t win immediately, I found the quickest way to the ‘Chikkin’ maker and easily won the second time through. There was also the fact that I wasn’t keeping track of how many missions I was playing until, all of a sudden, they congratulated me on beating the game after I had been playing for under an hour. I didn’t notice a difficulty curve, there was no indication of a final level, I just beat it.
The only unlockable that matters in the game are the ships with stronger guns since they all fly the same poor speed and all have the steering power of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. The rest of the unlockables are cosmetic, like a frying pan hat for your ship, or they didn’t seem to have any effect on the game (the Gatling gun?). As well, the music is abrasive and repetitive, drilling away at your sense of reason until you’re ready to listen to anything else. The graphics are designed in the 64-bit style which I actually didn’t mind. There was some nostalgia over the way the game looked which they did succeed in, but any good feelings I had about that were blocked out by Cluck controlling possibly worse than a game from that era as well.
However, it is clearly aimed at kids, despite its name requiring careful editing in case I have momentary dyslexia, and it’s skewing to a younger demographic is quite evident. The ‘humour’ that the game pushes so strongly is something that only children could enjoy; a lot of yelling and silly hats atop of cutesy animals as they try to beat their friends’ scores. So, obviously not for me. I decided to let my nine-year old nephew play it, trying to find someone that this was catering to. It took him all of five minutes to ask me if he could stop playing. This is kind of telling don’t you think?
The only really worthwhile aspect of Fluster Cluck is the 4-player mode, and even then it’s a stretch. Playing with a friend and his children resulted in a few rounds of gleeful bashing, followed up by a couple rounds of going through the motions, finally capped off with them asking if they could go outside. So, while the 4-player mode can be fun for kids, it still has a very limited cap on how long it stays fun.
Overall, Fluster Cluck seems to have put all its eggs in its name’s basket. Short, dreary and clunky, Cluck tried to capitalize on nostalgia in its older audience while aiming at a demographic that was probably not even alive during the 64-bit era, and they fail to capture either audience. If there are no other 4-player options and your child demands one, then pick this one up, otherwise you’ll be better off without it.
***This game was reviewed on the PS4 via a code proved by the publisher***