Chompy Chomp Chomp Party (Review)

Another day, another former Xbox Live Indie Game designed for parties that slipped through the cracks of time. In the case of Chompy Chomp Chomp by Utopian World of Sandwiches, since this is technically a new version that I haven’t played before, I can’t award it a YOU HEARTLESS BASTARDS award. Yet. The point of this review is to do my part to circumvent that. And actually, unlike many great XBLIGs that have since gone to oblivion, Chompy actually DID come back once before, in 2016, under the name Chompy Chomp Chomp Party for Wii U. I admit, I didn’t play it there. I never really liked the Wii U, which is what largely cemented my reputation as being “anti-Nintendo.” Which hardly seems fair or accurate. I don’t hate Nintendo. I just hated the Wii U. It hurt my hands to use it and it caused me to sink into whatever I was sitting on by several inches. Like, seriously, I weigh nothing, yet now my La-Z-Boy has a permanent groove of my ass embedded in it. Which actually is the only good thing to come out of the Wii U. Now, that chair only fits me and my bony ass.

Where was I?

La-Z-Boys. Good chairs.

No wait, Chompy Chomp Chomp. Good party game Chompy Chomp Chomp is.

Make sure to have everybody pick distinctive colors. When we let people pick ANY color, some were a little to close to each-other and it caused “confusion” which was code for “I’ll take any semi-valid excuse why *I’m* not winning right now.” While on the subject: yes, there’s a wide variety of colors to choose from, so if you have a player who is partially colorblind, there should be enough options to accommodate them without compromising gameplay. This includes an arrow too, if someone needs it.

Unlike yesterday’s review for Hidden in Plain Sight, where I had to make a case for the game being adaptable to all ages, there’s no question about Chompy being for everybody. Yes, this is one of the most frantic, unhinged party experiences in gaming, but it’s also one of the most simple to understand. It’s a cat and mouse chase where you are both the cat for one player and the mouse for someone else. In the main mode, you’ll have a ring under your feet that designates the color of the player you must eat. You score points for eating them, but while you do this, someone has YOUR color ring and is trying to eat you. After a few seconds, the rings will rotate around, often to the very person you’re chasing. The end result is chaos. Plain and simple. You can tell yourself you’re going to keep your wits about you, but you can’t. Games of Chompy Chomp Chomp turn on a dime. Leads vanish. The player in last can turn things around quickly. There’s absolutely no finesse. It’s madness. Out and out madness.

And it’s awesome.

Online play has been removed in favor of eight-player mode. I’m fine with that, even if we found eight players on screen at once to be too busy. You can also include bots, though I found the bots to be predictable and dumb even on harder difficulties.

It’s such a simple idea too. Keeping it real: I had planned to delay this review to much later this month, or even early 2023. In fact, I’d already warned the developers of this. But then, I played the first game I’ve played in ten years that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, would have killed in an 80s arcade. It made me think of the only other game I’ve ever reviewed that I know in my heart would have been a major success if it had released in an arcade in 1982 – 1986. A game that, realistically, could have been done in that era, or any era, really. Coincidentally, after a long road getting there, that game had just re-released on Nintendo Switch last month. Then, fatefully, we had family visit us this last weekend. Family with game-loving little kids. When fate calls, you don’t even need to check the caller ID! My Dad says that, and it sounds wise so I’ll steal it here even though it makes less and less sense the more I think about it. Everybody agreed to help me out so I could do a couple party games for content. Like Hidden in Plain Sight, we had a rotation of eight players between the ages of 75 to 6. You literally couldn’t get a better variety of players to fully review party games with, since every possible age range and gaming background was represented here.

You would think the Pac-Man-themed maps would be perfect for a game based around eating. Where you don’t have to press any buttons and the act of eating is just touch-only, which essentially makes Chompy a glorified game of Tag (as in “you’re it!”). But, actually, we hated these maps. It’s nothing like playing Pac-Man. You’re not simply moving in four straight directions. You have too much range and movement. Cornering and sharp turns are too hard on these levels, and causes games to degenerate into contests decided by who gets hung-up on walls the least. Stick to levels with lots of room to run and large barriers that make it obvious where to turn at.

We were originally going to do eight player games. But, we actually found that the eight players all at the same time was a little TOO crazy and TOO frantic, and in some modes, almost impossible, really. Locating your Chompy in modes where players tended to cluster and keeping track of all the happenings was too much to handle. Also, some players couldn’t tell one color apart from another in the heat of battle (purple and pink especially caused issues, though it wasn’t alone in that), so we moved to four-player-only matches. Besides, most of us didn’t want to hold a single Joy-Con sideways. Does ANYBODY like using a single Joy-Con turned on its side? Maybe the worst controller Nintendo ever did, and that’s before you even factor in how quickly drift starts to overcome them. Anyway, once we focused on four-player play (and moved everybody onto distinctive colors), everybody had a blast. And, guess what? Over the course of a couple hours of playtime, everybody won at least once.

I was the sole person who liked ball mode the best. Everybody else voted for Zone Dash, but being a weirdo, I voted for this. Hold the ball to score points. For extra spicy chaos, pick an especially small map. Some of the maps are TOO big and too twisty-turny (such as the Pac-Man tribute maps that I talked about above). Really, we had the most fun with the small to medium-small maps.

I don’t mean to imply that skill won’t get you anywhere. It’s no coincidence that most games were won by me, Dad, or 9-year-old TJ, my God-Nephew who plays way too much Fortnite. Skill certainly does seem to matter. But, 6-year-old Sasha and 75-year-old non-gamer AJ also won matches too. When it comes to gaming, we don’t go easy on children or grouchy old fogeys in our house. It’s a long-standing policy of ours, because then when they actually do legitimately start to win games, it means something. It’s a rite of passage. So that one and only time I forced my Dad to lay down his king in a game of Chess was, frankly, a moment, and when the kids beat us at Chompy, it was their moment. Sasha’s several dead-last finishes where she became a kindred spirit of Inky, Pinky, Blinky, Clyde, and Sue probably didn’t feel great. Do you know what I’m sure felt great? When she beat us, straight-up, at the cupcake eating mode, which is like the main mode only there’s also cupcakes of your designated attack-color to score points with as well. It didn’t even take that long for Sasha to get good, either, and after that, she was always in the mix right at the end of games and sometimes it was her taking the match. The label “fun for all ages” has always been overused.. and often misused.. in gaming, but Chompy Chomp Chomp Party is fun for all ages and a cinch to get the hang of. Someone new to gaming can hang with seasoned pros in under an hour. Not a lot of multiplayer-only games can say that.

Spooky Party, the $2.50 DLC, gives you Ghost Mode, four new maps, and a new theme for the randomly-generated levels. Is it worth it? Not really. Death Match, where you don’t come back to life when eaten and the last person standing wins, was our universal choice for worst mode. Ghost Mode was the universal runner-up to that. Here, you’re sort of invisible, and can only get a kill when you phase-in. It’s not very fun and it’s not worth an extra 25% of the cost of the main game by itself, nor are the graveyard skin and maps. Really, the only reason to buy this is to support the developers by kicking them an additional couple bucks. Which is a good enough reason, I suppose. But, officially, Chompy Chomp Chomp Party: Spooky Party DLC is NOT Chick-Approved and doesn’t factor into the rankings of Chompy Chomp Chomp Party on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Plus, it really feels like they’ve wrung every possible variation of the formula out of it. There’s six modes if you buy the main package, plus the seventh reviewed in the above caption. Surprisingly, a couple of the modes that move-away-from the color-coded dynamic are very strong in their own right. Our favorite by far was Zone Dash. At the start of the match, players dash to be the first to touch a marker on the screen. Once a person touches it, Chompy becomes a game of Reverse Tag where being “it” means you have to run for your life. There’s two zones, and you have to dodge everybody else as you scurry between the two. You score points every time you reach one, but if you get eaten, that player becomes “it.” When you become “it” you receive a burst of speed to separate you from the pack of other players you’re no doubt a part of, plus just a hint of invincibility that wears off quickly. If the “it” player makes it to a zone, they get another burst of speed and are invincible as long as they stay in the zone, BUT, they can’t camp there. It’ll quickly disappear. This formula was just flat-out insanity, where making two full round trips between the zones was a very impressive accomplishment. More than likely, you’ll last only long enough to draw a single breath. I didn’t think anything Utopian World of Sandwiches could include would be better than the main game, but low and behold, Zone Dash was easily the best way to play. By itself, it’s one of the fifty most fun experiences I’ve ever had with an indie game. Everybody kept wanting to go back to it.

Make sure to experiment with different maps too. Use the built-in random generator, and actually write down the seeds that work. The only thing missing is the ability to design your own. Most of the maps included are pretty good. Some work better for some game types and not others. pictured above was our favorite map for Zone Dash.

So, what’s the catch? Well, I don’t think there is one. I worried that, eventually, someone would separate themselves and become too good for the game to be fun for anybody else. Now, I don’t think any one player could practice enough to become unbeatable at this. I think most games will ultimately become a mindless free-for-all. But, as long as you pick the right maps, it never stops being fun. I guess the one thing that’s missing is a map creator, or maybe the ability to customize your Chompys. Really though, Chompy Chomp Chomp Party is optimized for pick-up-and-play gaming. I reckon this will be busted-out at parties in the Vice household from now on. Especially if there’s a lot of kids or non-gamers. We were all hollering and cheering and yelling the whole time. The only things that I didn’t like about the gameplay can actually be adjusted. You can remove specific items from the game (including whammies that slow you down, or the over-powered speed boosts) or turn off items all together, or increase how frequently items are dropped. Actual effort and experience will be needed to figure out which maps make for the best gameplay, but once you have a feel for that, you can have someone jump in who doesn’t play video games at all. We actually had a ninth player, the too-mature-for-games Sarah, join us for a couple rounds after her kids pestered her into it. She reluctantly said “okay, yes, that was fun” when she handed the controller off a couple games later. She finished dead last every game, but still had a good time. It’s a game that refuses to be anything else.

You can save three maps, or you can write the seeds down. This was a lot of fun and we did use it, BUT, we also never did find a map where we were like “oh, we HAVE to keep that one.” I really think they should have included a map creator. Especially since Chompy lends itself to house-rules type of situations. The formula is versatile enough that you could probably invent an E-Sport within the game, ala Griffball in Halo, but without the ability to create a custom map for it, that’s not really an option yet.

Chompy Chomp Chomp Party is a game that could have happened in any era. It would have looked different in 1985, but the hectic gameplay would have fit right-in. In fact, the thing that’s always weirded me out about Chompy is that nobody else thought of this first. It’s so obviously fated to be an electrifying formula, much more than other arcade-like versus games, that it’s weird it didn’t exist until 2012. Seriously, what’s the definitive 80s arcade party game? Warlords? This is in an entirely different league. It’s the best indie party game I’ve played, and I’ve played a lot more than my review index suggests I have. The problem is, I’ve always had trouble getting players for them. That won’t be a problem with Chompy ever again. I’ll have my entire family saying “you HAVE to play this!” next time. That speaks volumes to me. I expected us to mess around with this for an hour, just enough for me to get one final review of it in. Instead, we played it twice over the course of two days, about four hours all-in, and would have kept playing if Sarah and her kids didn’t have a six hour drive in front of them. Do you know what the kids did on the way home? They played Chompy Chomp Chomp Party in the car, and when they get home, they knew they had a fourth player to join them if they pestered hard enough. Sarah called us Monday and said “what have you done to me?” We laughed. She said “oh, eat me!” I said “we can’t. There’s no online play!”

Chompy Chomp Chomp Party is Chick-Approved
Leaderboard Ranking: #33 of 306 Indie Gamer Chick-Approved Indie Games*
Top 86.4 Percentile of All 640 IGC-Reviewed Indie Games
Top 94.8 Percentile of All 306 IGC-Approved Indie Games
**Rankings based on time of publication. Check the Leaderboard for updated standings.
The original Chompy Chomp Chomp’s IGC Leaderboard position has been removed. Chompy Chomp Chomp Party is an updated version of the same game, not a sequel or a reboot, and is not considered a separate game. Please note, the original Chompy Chomp Chomp is for sale on Steam (link to sales page), but this review is not valid for it. For the original Chompy Chomp Chomp, read the original review here and the Second Chance with the Chick review here. Utopian World of Sandwiches declined to appeal this decision.

Chompy Chomp Chomp was developed by Utopian World of Sandwiches
Point of Sale: Nintendo Switch, Steam
$9.99 + $2.50 got chomped in the making of this review.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

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