Fluster Cluck definitely checks off all the boxes to qualify itself as a game. There are multiple modes, competitive opportunities, objectives, upgrades, and a certain sense – albeit a small one – of progression.
But that’s about it. Really, it’s like a bowl of carefully scooped vanilla ice cream; it’s passably okay by itself, but there’s nothing particularly special or interesting about it. Instead, it’s a rough outline of ideas that doesn’t truly feel completely fleshed out.
It certainly doesn’t help that there’s no real clear sense of what you’re doing and why. Each game match is all about putting the alien player character in a flying saucer and sending them to collect various “ingredients” to place in a machine located at the center of the map. Once placed in the machine, these “ingredients” – usually cartoonish animals – turn into chickens. Or, “chikkins,” as the game loves to call them. Supposedly these chickens are used to help power the fast food corporation you work for… although none of this is ever truly explained well.
Not that it needs to have a robust narrative to bolster itself. After all, it’s really just a silly setup to pit four players against each other in a collect-a-thon not unlike battle modes from kart racers in the Nintendo 64 era. And on the surface, this actually worked fairly well… until I went several maps in and realized things never get deeper or more rewarding.
Every single match is the same setup on a different map. Players are assigned a specific spawn point, then forced to make their way around the map to collect ingredients to dump while trying to take out the other three players (be they AI or human) to win the round. It’s wash, rinse, repeat, and the only way to progress to the next map is to place first on a round, meaning overpowered AI and flimsy weapons will have to be dealt with.
The player’s ship has the durability of a boat made out of cardboard and is constantly blowing up whenever enemy bullet barrages greet them at any point in the map. Now, this might be vindicated by the fact that various power-ups and boosters scattered around the map allow one to equip shields, rockets, speed boosts, and a handful of other banal upgrades, but none of these last for a substantial amount of time, and none of them ever really feel truly useful.
Although it does have a handful of interesting textures, Fluster Cluck looks horribly dated, like an Ape Escape game given the HD treatment on a modern console. It’s certainly a throwback to character multiplayer games from the early years of 3D gaming, but attempting to ape an era that didn’t have famously gorgeous visuals doesn’t work in their favor.
Really, Fluster Cluck’s greatest sin lies in how generic it is. When stripped down to its core, there’s really nothing special about it; it’s just a battle mode stretched out for an entire game and eventually wears thinner than a sheet of tracing paper. Sure, it may offer a few amusing tongue-in-cheek quips, and different maps and upgrades give it some sense of progression, but as a whole, there’s just not much about Fluster Cluck that promises to make it much more than the meager offering it currently is. It may be fun for a few rounds, especially when played in a multiplayer match with friends. But, an egregious lack of any personality or substance leaves me doubtful of whether or not it really could entertain for hours on end.