Chop is Dish is an old school side-scroller in which one lone cook heads off on a revenge mission, all in the hope that he can trace the source of all evil and take down those who have stolen his prize steak. Coming across as very ‘Mario’ from the get-go, can this cook provide anything more than a cheap opening platter?
Well, let’s not mess around. Chop is Dish is never going to come close to beating Mario. In fact, it’s not even going to come close to bettering some of the most average clones out there. Nope, this is a simple side-scroller that you’ll be done with inside 30 minutes flat, no doubt forgetting it ever existed as you move on with your life.
To give the teams at Huge Pixel and Victory Road some credit, Chop is Dish is being marketed with that in mind, with the low price tag asked of it ensuring that some will see this as a game worth taking a punt on. But then, even taking that into consideration, and allowing for the fact that Chop is Dish does nothing overly offensive – I mean, it works at least – it’s still not really worthy of a place on Xbox One.
The story in Chop is Dish plays out in the very first scene, with only brief textual interludes cropping up when you come up against the game’s three end of world bosses. Other than that though this is standard stuff, as you take your cook and manoeuvre him across a number of side-scrolling platform-filled levels, hopping, skipping, and jumping past enemies and obstacles as you go.
At no point will you find any form of test to your gaming skills in Chop is Dish, with just a few measly enemies easily dispatched by jumping on their head. Do so and each will drop a piece of meat which you can collect. Why? Well, I’ve no idea actually, as grabbing these and collecting them through your journey seems to make not one jot of difference to anything. Perhaps if you collect enough they could have been put to good use by adding to your well-stacked set of lives, but then completing the game with ease never sees this come to fruition. It could well be said that anyone who takes a little care as they go could well complete the entirety of Chop is Dish without losing a single life point. If anything, all that collecting of meat does is slow down the inevitable reaching of the conclusion by a few minutes. Hey, at least there are the odd hidden burgers to hunt down which do bring reason, delivering extra lives to anyone who needs them.
Enemies come your way in various forms, with birds and bats flying through the sky, turtles moving along the floor (and yep, you can jump on them, and then send their shell scuttling around), and the evil dastardly minions who you initially see going into your home to steal that steak just walking around aimlessly, providing very little threat. There are a couple that arrive later in the game that bring a little bit more of a test to proceedings, but jumping over their bullets or dodging their flaming grenades, before plonking one on their bonce, is rarely an issue – even when taking into account the slightly dodgy hit detection. In a strange twist though, you too can take up arms, with this cook discovering use of a gun and grenades as he goes. Why? Well, again, I’m not sure the relevance of them, and other than to beat one of the bosses they are rarely needed. I guess it’s another little addition that tries to break up the monotony of just speedrunning your way through.
Chop is Dish at least runs okay as a game, and your cook moves around with ease, with additional slight movement possible when he is in the air – that is as long as he’s not bumping into invisible platforms and walls. You’ll need to utilise this airborne mobility occasionally too, timing your jumps over spinning cogs of death, dodging stalactites that fall, and hopping over lava-filled pits in order to reach the end. There’s very little to really mention in terms of how things all play out though – if you’ve played any side-scrolling platformer at any point over the last three decades, you’ll know what to expect, except this one comes with a strange visual effect that sometimes sees the screen creeping to catch up with cook when he stops. It’s initially a little nauseating if I’m honest, and even though it’s only a minor little complaint that you soon get used to, for a game that is so simple it’s a weird little oddity to have.
For its inoffensiveness, it’s just a shame that Chop is Dish fails to ever build on anything; it really is a case of moving from your starting point on the left, across to the right until you spot the end-of-level bell, all before moving on to the next. With multiple checkpoints in place, tons of lives available, and hardly anything in place to ensure you lose those lives, this is as straightforward a playthrough as you could possibly ask to take in. Even the option for easy, normal and hard difficulties fails to excite or ever bring any variety.
One extra little addition that is nice to have though is that Chop is Dish on Xbox One includes the exclusive prologue chapter that covers a little – and I mean a little – bit of backstory, telling how this cook has lost his steak, and why it is so sought after. Stolen Pork Story has apparently never previously released on other formats, so I guess Chop is Dish on Xbox One has that going for it. Whilst it brings a few extra minutes of gameplay though, and it’s fun to see things play out from a different perspective, again it’s not going to be something you remember even an hour after playing it, let alone for days, weeks, months and years going forward. It’s a little bit trickier to complete over the main game, but again it can be run through in next to no time – and there’s not even an extra achievement given for the bother.
At the end of the day, the low asking price of Chop is Dish on Xbox One is utterly realised, mainly because anything higher than it would see this game vastly overpriced. If you’re in the market for a super cheap, super quick runthrough in which you can gather up pretty much a full 1000 Gamerscore in less than 30 minutes, then this is the game for you. However, if you’re looking for something half decent, or a new adventure to get your teeth into, don’t even consider Chop is Dish.