Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road: The Video Game looks like an office program. Mind you, it’s meant to be like Frogger, but the toolbars at the top of the window scream Microsoft Word. The title bar calls the game “Chicken Windows Application.”
For Windows 3.1 games, the interface quirks, like the reliance on a bulky WinHelp file to explain the game, are part of the appeal. Windows 3.1 wasn’t well-suited for action games – many developers continued using DOS instead until Microsoft improved the operating system’s graphics support – and the games carved out what they could in a format that wasn’t really designed for them. Of course, nothing about that makes Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road an improvement on Frogger. The game’s stuttering, halting movement significantly reduces how easily your chicken can dodge cars… or spaceships or dirt bikes or airplanes or whatever, depending on the stage.
I love this Chicken Windows Application anyway. It knows how ridiculous it is. You play as a chicken named Joe the Chicken. The developer, the wonderfully named StupidSoft, wrote a nonsensical backstory about a secret police force and a mad scientist that the game immediately ignores. Every time you beat a level, you get a silly excuse for why the chicken crossed the road. On two occasions, Joe apparently wanted to “see the new 1995 cars” and “do a report on sharks.”
StupidSoft clearly had a lot of fun making this. Instead of a registration fee, they wanted fans to send them postcards. They have an infectiously good spirit. Joe the Chicken is just glad to be here.
The credits screen gives special thanks to Mark S. for level ideas. His full name is Mark Stinocher. According to the readme, “We weren’t able to figure out how to spell his name at the time. Sorry, Mark.”