One of the most satisfying parts of Angry Birds is scoring a direct hit that sends tower upon tower crumbling into dust, planks of wood crushing those green pigs under their splintered slabs.
Chicken Balls HD loves explosive destruction too. Every shot, no matter how insignificant to clearing a level, causes about a billion things to pop on the screen, creating an indiscernible splash of graphics and a vortex of physics.
Once the dust settles, though, it’s hard not to feel a little empty.
Chicken Balls HD, as can likely be guessed from one glance at the screenshots (or the fact that it features a bird), is a riff on a certain multi-million selling title. You’re tasked with launching a brave bird from a jeep into a series of plastic balls holding your chick-brethren hostage. Liberate them all and you clear the level.
Every ball you smash releases a good handful of independently bouncing chicks into the wild, which scoop up eggs strewn around used to activate a large points bonus called 'Farmageddon!!' at the end of each level.
This involves dropping a ton of farmyard animals (complete with their various noises) from the top of the screen, which is a silly as it is amusing.
Piggy in the middle
What actually happens in a level really is up to the gaming gods because no matter how well placed your initial shot the result is largely random.
Not only are there chicks bouncing around wildly, but also an assortment of farmyard animals that ping around, smashing bits of the scenery according to the laws of physics, and more often than not get in your way. The latter runs contrary to the game's design, which demands specific shots to complete each level.
In one level, for example, there are four chutes each leading to a chick ball. Despite obviously wanting four shots into the four chutes, the game keeps throwing in a random cow or pig that sucks up your chicken’s momentum, causing it to stop prematurely without any fault on your part.
One fun feature Chicken Balls HD has over its winged brothers, however, is the aforementioned Farmageddon!! mode, which makes the scoring a lot more transparent than Angry Birds (collecting all eggs always scores three stars).
There’s also the option of choosing your bird's special ability, which adds a tactical layer. It’s something we've all seen before, but it’s still a welcome addition.
Chicken Balls HD is a well-made game, with smooth and reliable controls sitting alongside some bright and colourful graphics that look great in motion.
The problem is, the competition is so polished that this alone isn't enough to make the game stand out. While the increased pyrotechnics are a visual treat, the overly random gameplay won’t be enough to fill up the hungry stomachs of Angry Birds fans.