28 March 2009









Stuart Campbell comes from a long and extremely complicated line of ancestors who contributed their diverse genes to create and shape the unique individual that we all know and love so much today. But he’s not the only one.


It’s easy to get irritable when idiot videogame journalists excitably acclaim the stunning "originality" of games which have supposedly appeared out of nowhere, but about which anyone who knows anything about games knows otherwise. The most celebrated - if that's the right word - example of recent years would probably be Worms, recipient of all sorts of originality awards despite being simply the latest in a 20-year-old line encompassing scores of previous games which play in exactly the same way.

(The first example your correspondent knows of is Artillery Duel on the Colecovision from 1983, but the genre may well go back further still.)

But sometimes that ire is a tad unwarranted, because some games are so obscure that it's only by sheer dumb luck that anyone would even have heard of them, far less be able to identify that they were the estranged parent or illegitimate child of a far better-known classic. Count on the dauntlessly diligent descendant-detectives of Retro Gamer, then, to uncover some of the missing links and finally bring together some of gaming’s greats and their grand-relatives.




Chuckie Egg is one of retrogaming’s cornerstones. Alongside the Donkey Kongs, Manic Miners. Stunt Car Racers and Speedball 2s, Nigel Alderton’s high-speed henhouse hurry-scurry still represents many people’s ideal for the form, with its slick controls and non-stop action. Surprisingly few games, though, have actually replicated its style – not even its own sequel played similarly, being a comparatively staid and sprawling arcade adventure. The only game that can truly lay claim to Chuckie Egg’s DNA is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Gameboy Adventure.

Along with Lode Runner, Chuckie Egg is a contender for the game to have appeared on the most formats ever.

Despite this reporter’s single-handed trumpet-blowing crusade over the last decade, the number of people who’ve heard of this early platformer for the mono Game Boy is still, taken as an average and rounded off to the nearest whole number, zero. Which is a tragedy, because it’s simply one of the greatest platform games of all time. Comprising 50 single-screen levels spread across 10 worlds, it’s a riot of invention and pace with something new on almost every stage, but telltale signs like its speed, ladder-jumping and infinite-fall ability mark it out as a clear homage to Alderton’s game, with one of the most obvious tributes being the appearance in World 5 of a version of Chuckie Egg’s “super duck” (in the form of a flying stingray) which tracks the player across the level regardless of the platform structures.


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