Cock-A-Doodle Inc will turn you into a cackling tycoon

Posted: August 31, 2009 in Strategy, Time Management

Have you ever wanted to see how well you would do running your own business? You may want to try your hand with Cock-A-Doodle Inc., a new tycoon game where you can be the king of the cock, or rather the fried chicken business. The game incorporates some very innovative elements from the basics such as building hatcheries all the way to business management. It’s a solid game where you’re not only doling out orders, but you have to maintain a certain hands-on approach if you’re to succeed.

At the heart of Cock-A-Doodle, is a time management game where you’re literally running around like a headless chicken between 4 different screens: Farm, Grow Out House, Fried Chicken Store, and Corporate Headquarters. The game has 19 levels (plus a bonus mission upon completion of the story mode) that deal with a variety of different and in some cases, challenging tasks that will test your multitasking abilities. You can also choose the game speed—Slow, Normal and Fast—which you can change at any time. From hiring and firing employees to building and maintaining facilities, Cock-A-Doodle has a decent amount depth. But as you soon learn, Cock-A-Doodle is not a game where you sit back to watch things happen, and the game includes some nice touches to keep you engaged.

Presented in cut scenes and dialogue boxes, the story follows Cock-A-Doodle Inc., a company in dire straits with falling revenue and failing market share. One day, the executives decide to hire a legendary management consultant by the name of Richard to come in to save the company. Unfortunately, he gets into an accident and is left in the hospital to watch American Idol. So, he decides to send Danny, a novice with limited business experience, in his place. Obviously from a business ethics standpoint, the game isn’t on solid ground when it comes to being honest with clients, but who am I to judge.

The early levels serve as a tutorial and provide the basic skills for building facilities and running a retail outlet. But, the game has many different nuances that you’ll need to master. A set of buttons in the lower right corner provide quick access to each of the 4 different screens which you’ll need to constantly keep tabs on. Here’s an overview of what happens in each screen.

Hatcheries, feed lots, and sterilization centers are accessible in the Farm screen. Building structures requires flagging locations or even reclaiming land to do so which can be limited. If this game were only about building enough facilities, then it would be simple for the intermediate tycoon player. But, there are things that require constant monitoring. For example, hatcheries can become contaminated which can produce sick chickens that can spread to other hatcheries which of course cannot be served to customers. If you planned ahead, then you would’ve already built a sterilization center to decontaminate hatcheries. The catch is that a hatchery cannot produce any chickens during sterilization.

In the Grow Out screen, this is where the chickens are sent to be processed. To keep the player engaged, there are certain things that require a hands-on approach. For example, to encourage the health growth of chicks, the air temperature gauge must be controlled by turning on/off the air conditioner or heater at the appropriate time. A feeder must also be monitored to make sure there is enough feed for the chickens. These require you to manually go in to control them.

The Fried Chicken Store screen tests your ability to run a store. The employees mainly consisting of cashiers and cooks are usually reliable but over time, they develop issues. For example, cashiers can get irritable thus impacting customer satisfaction, while cooks who are overworked will fall asleep on the job. Beyond keeping track of employees and ensuring adequate supplies, you also have to manage the waste oil container and remember to empty it when necessary. A full waste oil container will overflow and spill, preventing additional fried chicken from being cooked. Again, to empty the oil container, you must manually do so.

In the Corporate Headquarters screen is where marketing promotions can be researched and activated to generate sales. You can also view sales numbers and profits to gauge progress. And as you progress through the levels, individual centers for training, technology and facilities become available that you can tap into to further grow your chicken empire. There’s also an arcade available on Sundays where mini-games are available at the risk of profits.

Each level has specific mission objectives and theme and builds on the previous levels. While the early levels focus on game basics, later levels focus specific business issues and problems. Some may focus on introducing new marketing strategies such promotional meals, and new chicken flavors for example, while others will center on upgrading facilities and staff training.

Also, you get to select an assistant from among three available each with her own attributes. This assistant will try to help you during any kind of crisis or issue that arises during the game so remember to choose wisely. Also, she won’t solve your issue, and there’s even the risk that the advice she provides may actually make things worse…can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Sylvia—facility management major and perfect secretary
Ann—chicken farming major who’s all about profit maximization (she’s the best, but also a prude)
Stephan—store management major with strong interpersonal skills

During the game, a calendar keeps track of the days, while the bottom of the screen provides a weather gauge which comes in handy for promotional items. The gameplay includes the basics such as upgrading facilities, but also includes things designed to throw a wrench into things. Lawsuits from animal rights groups, striking employees, bad morale, customer complaints, espionage and even a potential from gambling away profits are examples of other elements in this game. I mentioned promotional meals, and depending on the weather, you’ll have the final decision on whether or not to offer them. In other words, the game is very engaging and really provides quite the experience besides just simply driving up profits. Depending on how you perform, items—9 in all—are earned that can help in subsequent levels. These include Development Booster accelerating facility upgrades, Pollution Expert offering an overview glance of hatcheries, Titanium Container offering increases waste oil capacity, and Purification Charcoal for preventing soil degradation.

One of the things I don’t like about the game is that the mission abruptly ends as soon as the objectives are met. What may actually be a better approach is to allow the store to complete the rest of the day to maximize profits or even to see how well or bad the store could be. In some cases, the store was in trouble, but because I managed to meet the mission objectives, I cleared the stage. In addition, it may be worth making the store employees less generic and instead more customized with individual attributes.

Overall, Cock-A-Doodle is a solid tycoon game that offers the typical elements you’d expect, but also incorporates additional components to spice up the game. It offers casual gamers the right amount of challenge and gameplay even if you’re not hankering to be the next Colonel Sanders.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (engaging gameplay incorporating a variety of elements so you’re more of a player rather than just sitting back to watch; not overly difficult to play, but challenging because of the multiple screens)

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