See that yellow caged duck in the top-left corner there? We call her Big Birdie. And sooner or later, Big Birdie is going to find you, and make you pay for what you’ve done.
The first eight levels of marvellous eight-bit platformer Chuckie Egg are, in many ways, a villain’s origin story. Big Birdie, a duck with a chequered past that has resulted in her incarceration in the aforementioned cage, is forced to watch as a rotund gluttonous egg-sucker (the player) weaves and jumps from platform to platform, evades the blue guard-birds patrolling each level, and steals all of Big Birdie’s eggs before her very eyes. She flaps and flaps, and squawks in silent torment, but to no avail. Level after level passes, and all her unborn children are ripped away from her.
This tragic eight-stage biopic is a necessary tale, because it perfectly sets up the following stages of the game. On level 9, the player is sent back to the starting level and must complete all eight levels once again – but this time, Big Birdie is free.
If you haven’t played Chuckie Egg yourself, you just don’t understand the gravity of this moment. You don’t understand that those words should strike at your heart like an icy needle of terror. I contend that Big Birdie is the most fear-inducing videogame villain of all time. And it’s not simply because she can phase through platforms. It’s not just that she’s a giant yellow duck four times the size of a human being, and that she’s apparently coated in some sort of lethal duck-toxin which instantly kills you the moment you come into contact with it.
It’s because you know what you’ve done. You know exactly why she’s after you, and that guilt is fuel for your terror. At its heart, Chuckie Egg is the very best kind of psychological thriller. It’s like Joker. It’s the portrayal of a character who is relentlessly pushed and tormented by heartless external forces, until they reach their breaking point and all their anger is let out for the world to see.
You can experience Chuckie Egg (and its associated horrors) yourself for free online on the BBC Micro Games Archive.