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Moorhuhn Winter Edition: Go Back in Time this Christmas

Vegetarians look away now, but this classic arcade game is one for the ages.

Everyone has a game from their childhood that they have a strong but completely irrational affection for. For some it's a terrible Sonic game. For others it might be a practically unplayable platformer. But for me, it's Moorhuhn: Winter Edition.

Moorhuhn: Winter Edition was an entry into the Moorhuhn series, which was apparently released under the name Crazy Chicken in English-speaking countries. The series never really caught on over here - and certainly not to the extent that it did in Germany, where the original was the most popular PC game for several years in the early 2000s.

Moorhuhn has you playing as a hunter / poacher / generic person with a shotgun, as you shoot down the eponymous birds with a seemingly insatiable bloodlust. Points are scored for shooting down each bird, point-and-click style. The screen pans around so you get a "360 degree view" of the area and shoot in all directions.

It's not clear precisely what birds they are, but they do have a bit of the Chicken Run about them. Also, early builds of the game had a sponsorship from Haribo (the confectionery company) built in, which is kind of lovely but also a bit weird. How many games these days outright have planes flying with brand logos on?

The Winter Edition was released around Christmas of 2001 and lends itself to a wonderful festive feel. There is a snowy town in the background and snowmen aplenty. It is a very obvious cash-grab though, and has been hastily implemented on top of the original engine - only the birds' locations, art assets, and a couple of interactions have been changed.

The game still features a pointless and meaningless bullet counter: you start with 8 bullets in your shotgun (?!) and once they are used up you immediately reload. The upshot of this is that bullets are constantly flying. A good 10% of the screen retail is given up to your bullet counter, as well.

Winter Edition

If it isn't obvious by this point, allow me to spell it out: This game is not very good. It found a niche in the German market (much like Flappy Bird did over here) but it never really grabbed most of the English-speaking world. It grabbed me though. I have the fondest of memories, sitting in my grandparents' dining room of a December morning, gas fire on, booting Windows Millenium Edition and firing up Moorhuhn.

The game is considered abandonware by most people, and you may well be able to find a version to download and play (if you can get it running, that is!). So if you fancy a bit of festive folly, you can't do much better than a couple of rounds of Moorhuhn: Winter Edition. It's not much, but it feels like it's mine.
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Alex is the technical lead at Rainbo. You can contact him directly on Twitter or by email at alex@rainbo.co.uk.

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