Sure, Mario Maker looks like a lot of fun. But will it let you and your friends turn into horses and raccoons and cut each other up with buzzsaws?
That's what awaits you in Ultimate Chicken Horse, a Kickstarted platform game where you and your competitors build the level together, adding traps to trip each other up, while making sure your animal avatar can still make it to the end. As the trailer for the game notes, "it's a fine balance between being an awesome level designer, and being a huge jerk."
Being a huge jerk is very tempting indeed, especially with all the buzzsaws at your disposal, but be careful: get too vindictive in your level design, and you'll only hurt yourself. When I played the game at the recent PAX gaming expo, I quickly discovered just how fine this line could be; my competitors were initially so excited about sabotaging other people that they quickly made the level impossible for anyone to win, even them.
Fortunately, the Party Box of itemz you open at the beginning of each round contains not only flaming projectiles and rotating platforms that you can toss into the madness, but also bombs that clear away the troublesome traps that keep killing your animals.
As the title of the game promises, you can play as a chicken or a horse, as well as a raccoon, sheep, and four more unspecified animals. Despite the playful charm of the art, I enjoyed its macabre notes as well: if your animal dies on top of a springboard, its lifeless carcass will continue to bounce up and down like a ragdoll until the level is complete.
Ultimate Chicken Horse will have a single-player mode as well, but the selling point is clearly its party game chaos, as well as the self-regulating malice of its DIY level design, which forces you to push the game to the highest level of difficulty you can handle without dooming yourself to frustration and failure.
You can download a free demo of Ultimate Chicken Horse for PC, Max and Linux here, and the complete game is due out from Clever Endeavor in February 2016.