As a BBC and Electron games enthusiast of many years, it was perhaps only natural that the first Dragon 32 games I would pick up would be those that are available for both machines. Chuckie Egg is of course also reasonably famous - well, as famous as retro games get anyway. I make no apologies therefore for coming to it with a whole wealth of preconceptions, expectations and experience.
Dragon Chuckie Egg, in case you're for some reason unfamiliar with the premise, is a platform game in which you play Hen House Harry. You scurry around the ladders and levels avoiding the crazy birds and, on later levels, the daft duck which is released from its cage in the top-left of the screen after screen nine.
It's set on a green screen background, which isn't ideal as yellow text and graphics aren't as easily picked out as they would have been on black. For someone used to the BBC/Electron version too, the smaller graphics and the different screen resolution seems somewhat inferior. The blue bird sprites also seem rushed - one frame the bird has a white eye, next frame the eye is green. This doesn't seem to be an intentional animation. As noted earlier, the yellow graphics mean the duck's birdcage (and the duck within it) is also quite difficult to see.
However, the game itself is actually a pretty smooth conversion. When the game gets going, there's very little difference in actual gameplay at all. You use five keys, running, jumping and climbing up and down ladders. Your main sprite is multicoloured and responds quickly to any request to run away. All the elevator shafts are positioned exactly as per the BBC version, meaning you can learn the moves required to complete each screen and then put those into practice on any other version of the game you like.
The idea in Chuckie Egg is to collect eggs. You can also collect bird seed for bonus points if so minded; otherwise you can leave it behind to slow up the progress of the marauding blue birds. As screens get progressively more difficult, eggs are placed in places that are harder and harder to reach. On collecting the last egg on any screen, you are immediately transported to the next one. On some screens, a particular egg must be collected last as you must leap to certain death otherwise.
Or at least, the above is true about 95% of the time. Curiously, and I imagine due to some quirk in the way the Dragon accesses sprites displayed on screen, I was able to reach some eggs that I was clearly not meant to; one that clearly should have been only collectable as the last one. Also, the Dragon version seems to be ever so slightly harder than the BBC/Electron release. Points increase more slowly, and lives are thence awarded less regularly.
There are some additional touches too - the Get Ready Player One and the screens themselves scroll upwards into view every time a life is lost or a level is won. Also, the Dragon Chuckie Egg benefits from having the instructions built into the game itself, although to render them the computer does switch to a low resolution black and white mode which rather contrasts with the colourful high score table and playing screens.
The conversion was done by one M. Webb and my verdict is that this really is a sterling job. Particularly, allowing the control keys to be redefinable, and adding the Pause and Abort keys to only operate when used in conjunction with SHIFT is a very good idea.
I have played Chuckie Egg on a few formats, and have previously come to the conclusion that the BBC/Electron version is the definitive one. This is still my conclusion but given the limitations of a smaller screen size, the Dragon version has sacrificed very little and the game platforms are rendered almost identically. If you fancy a Chuckie Egg that's slightly tougher than the norm - and you can get over that green screen feel - then you'll probably want to give this a bash.