Ultimate Chicken Horse is a standout party game on Switch boasting a unique premise, expansive, perfectly-executed gameplay, and constant fresh experiences.
An unlikely blend of platformer, stage creator, and competitive party game, Ultimate Chicken Horse tasks players with adding platforms and obstacles piece by piece into a barebones stage template. Your goal is to make a hard level that only you can finish. Winning necessitates creativity, smart building, and solid platforming. Since you build a fresh stage each time, every round is a new experience sure to yield comical and creative designs.
At the start of each game of Ultimate Chicken Horse, everyone picks a piece from a randomized selection and then places the piece on a nearly empty map. Once everyone places their piece, the race is on. Ultimate Chicken Horse becomes a platformer. Everyone tries to reach the end of the screen-sized level, using helpful platforms and dodging dangerous traps along the way, but there is a catch. Remember that bit earlier about making the level easy enough for you but hard enough to make someone else fail? If nobody completes the level, no points are earned, but if everybody completes the level, then still no points are earned. Points are basically only awarded when at least one person fails and at least one person finishes. Therefore, you have to be strategic when building a level.
This build-and-play cycle repeats itself 10 or 15 times throughout a match of Ultimate Chicken Horse. As up to four new platforms and traps are placed each round, you will watch a once-blank canvas be overtaken by a wild, treacherous amalgamation of you and your friends’ zany design philosophies. Watching your creations evolve and unfold is a magnificent sight. Traps will clutter already-narrow passages, platforms will leave no room for error, and absolutely ridiculous paths will materialize as you and your friends build around obstacles. An uneasy collaboration will exist as everyone works together to tweak the stage’s difficulty in response to how they fared on the last turn.
Although, one strategy I was particularly fond of (which drove my roommate insane) was to secure an early lead and then do everything in my power to make the stage literally impossible to complete–remember, if nobody finishes, then no points are scored. I would block key bottlenecks, stick black holes in the worst places, and just be an all-around menace. My friends fought this by building around my traps or by using explosives to blow my calculated schemes into oblivion. No matter what strategies you employ, though, every match is almost sure to end with everyone out of breath from laughter and tense finishes.
Beyond the addictive Party Mode, Ultimate Chicken Horse has a few other bells and whistles. There is online play, Creative Mode (Party Mode, but you can choose any possible piece when building the level), Free Play (where you can build custom stages), Challenge Mode (where you race through custom levels uploaded online), and lots of unlockable outfits, characters, and stages.
Ultimate Chicken Horse is very easily one of the best party games on Switch. It has a unique blend of creativity and platforming, it is widely accessible with intuitive, fluid controls, and it has loads of content and potential. There was one issue with the port job: Within a few hours of play, I had the game crash on me twice. However, outside of those rare instances, this is one of the most fun experiences on my Switch. If you play your Switch with friends, ever, then you need Ultimate Chicken Horse.
The publisher provided a code for this review. Our review policy.