Chicken, the Synapse Software story part three

Welcome to the third part of my series of smaller articles on Synapse Software, as told through the games that defined the company. The second part can be found here.

Synapse Software was growing, the operation that initially had been run out of Ivor Wolosenko‘s small room at Berkeley with Ken Grant‘s home address used as the mailing address was moved when Wolosenko relocated to a larger apartment. The bedroom was converted into a shipping room while the living room served as the office.
As the company continued to expand, they eventually relocated to a six-bedroom apartment on Coventry Road in Kensington. Although the company was initially founded on Grant’s database software, the success of its games and the relatively short development timeframes led Wolosenko to conceive several ideas for upcoming games. One of them, Chicken, a concept somewhat inspired by Atari‘s 1978 video arcade game Avalanche, was assigned to Mike Potter.

Potter had proven himself to be a fast and well-versed programmer and his Protector, initially released by Crystalware and now by Synapse was a well-received success. Together with Wolosenko, Potter began work on Chicken which relatively quickly was completed and published for the Atari 400/800 in the spring of 1982

Chicken, one of Ihor Wolosenko’s ideas, was realized in collaboration with Mike Potter.
The game was initially released in the spring of 1982 (on the right) but when Synapse Software moved to Jacuzzi Street in Richmond in August, it was re-released with updated address information and later the same year as a boxed version (on the left)

A fox at the top of the screen will randomly place stolen eggs upon the conveyor belt where they eventually will drop through and must be caught in the cart.
Chicken could be played by one or two players and the cart controlled by either Joystick or paddles, with the latter being the preferred method

Chicken became a success, particularly among women, owing to its straightforward, non-violent gameplay that resonated with a wider audience compared to the heavily saturated action and space genres of that era.
While Potter and Wolosenko were busy bringing Chicken to life, another programmer was working on Wolosenko’s second idea, Slime, but things, initially, didn’t go as smoothly as planned.
Potter, following the completion of Chicken, began work on Nautilus.

I’ll be covering Slime and Nautilus in upcoming Quick Bits.

Sources: Robert Dewitt’s 1983 interview with Ivor Wolosenko in Antic magazine, High Score! Expanded: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games, Wikipedia, Dadgum

3 thoughts on “Chicken, the Synapse Software story part three

  1. One of those games where you need to have NTSC artifacting to make the graphics look correct.

    Synapse is my favorite Atari computer publisher.

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