One of the most awe inspiring attributes of the N64 game The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time features an unstoppable attack by the malevolent residents of Kakariko Village and Lon Lon Ranch. I speak of course, of The Cuckos.

Cue fearful trembling.

Cuckos are, obviously, chickens, and their unstoppable attack can in fact be avoided. However, when you first experience their 3 dimensional wrath at 3 am, after a marathon console gaming session and some BIG coffee they appear pretty damn scary. The cuckos populate the game fairly sparsely, they are found in only a couple of locations. They are involved in a “Hunt-the-Special-Cucko” adventure at the in-game farm, Lon Lon Ranch and also appear in a small sub-quest at Kakariko Village, that well known local dive. Their cute, feathery exterior and friendly clucking hides a hidden depth of evil….

The main talents of the Cuckos in the course of normal gameplay appear to be;

(in order of importance)

Clucking incessantly, flapping when you pick them up, clucking incessantly and not laying any eggs. Ever.

Take a hand held weapon to them however, and they become, The Cucko Death Squad. Enough hits to any Cucko and it and its fellows will turn upon the unsuspecting Link and hound him with inherent savagery to his untimely demise!

Pursued by a raging, pecking, clucking mob, Link’s health is slowly eked away. A vicious quirk of the game means the Cucko’s are invulnerable, hit them and they merely spatter a little polygonal claret, then

Keep on coming!

Until at last, sapped by their nasty little pecking routine, Link falls to the ground and you are greeted with a deathly black GAME OVER.

Unless that is, you decided to go through any doorway in the game, apparently not even The Cucko Death Squad has mastered Shigsy’s amazing door handles.

The attack of the cuccos isn't indigenous to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The cucco first appeared in the 1993 Super NES title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as a cute little 2D chicken. They tended to travel in small packs and clucked their way around Kakariko Village. They could be lifted, but doing so served no real purpose. Attacking a cucco repeatedly results in a massive swarm of cuccos charging at Link from all directions, each one slashing off a little bit of energy repeatedly until death.

The cucco returned in the Game Boy Zelda adventures The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures where they serve the same basic purpose: being in the way until provoked to swarm.

In Ocarina it should be known that another way to avoid the cucco death squad is to be riding Epona the horse when the swarm hits. It would seem that cuccos cannot hurt Link when he is on horseback. This somehow seems fair as Epona can easily trample three cuccos in a single gallop, resulting in the attack of the chickens from hell.

In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there is not a single cucco in the entire game. The closest thing to a chicken is the seagulls. You know what they do? They fly around and squawk, and follow your boat, and when they eat a Hyoi pear that is being balanced on Link's head they get possessed until Link lets them go. They set the threat meter to absolute zero. Oh no, I hear you crying. The world of Hylian birds has no great heroes to defend their collective honour? Yes, that's true. But suddenly, a new contender has emerged.

New contender? What could it possibly be?

In previous Zelda games, if you provoked a chicken for long enough, they would summon their brethren to attack in an unholy blitzkrieg of bird. When you start a game in Wind Waker, you find yourself in a village called Outset Island. The area is home to a variety of species, including Hylians, seagulls, a Great Fairy, and three pigs. Imagine my glee when I realized what happens when you slice a pig with your sword: it snorts and hops away. Instantly I am reminded of a similar reaction from Ocarina of Time's cucco population. The snorting had been screeching, but the hopping was the same. So I continued to torture this little porkie around the island, not really believing it would attack until *wh-CHA!*. Yes, the game makes an actual whip snap sound at the exact moment that the pig snaps, mentally. The pig begins to flash red and does a few backflips in the air, and then rushes you like a madman. Madpig.

AHHH! ...what then?

If a pig touches you in this angered state, Link is thrown violently to the ground and loses one (1) heart of health. Also, the other two pigs on the island will sense their comrade engaged in battle, and race to the scene to aid the injured one, so keep in mind that if you are being chased by a pig, the two others will be diving off roofs and cliffs onto you. The only way to calm them down is to make them fall into the water or go into a house. There are also three pigs on Windfall Island who adhere to the same rules.

That doesn't seem so bad.

Well I never mentioned the Big Pig. Soon after starting the game you will have to leave your quaint little home on Outset, but before you go you must finish a few tasks. Some of these are necessary, like arming yourself with a deadly blade. Other tasks are more frivolous, like making a bit of pocket money cutting grass or putting pigs in their pen. If, AND ONLY IF, you round up all three pigs before leaving, you will get a small reward, and a big surprise. Later in the game you will find yourself returning to Outset, and you will soon discover that two of the pigs you gathered up for your neighbours have been eaten, and the third has grown up, in a big way. What you thought were three mean-spirited pigs were actually three playful piglets. The highest point on this beast's back is above Link's head, and it's at least five times his weight. The thing shakes the ground when it walks. You can't even lift it until Link finds the Power Bracelets that allow him to lift gigantic stone heads. Anyway, the Pig stays in its pen and cannot leave unless you carry it over, so that limits the danger. It goes without saying that if you provoke this monstrosity, you will pay dearly. This squealing nightmare takes three (3) hearts, and can run just as fast as Link, not to mention the terrifying feeling it gives you, charging panting and stomping like that.

The people at Nintendo sound insane!

The Big Pig is good for some things though. Around Outset are a number of black soil patches. If you scatter bait on top of a patch and drop the Pig onto the bait, he will dig ferociously, and you will be rewarded with some kind of buried treasure. Also, if you're seeking a running-of-the-bulls kind of thrill, you can always anger this earthbound god of pork, run up to the highest point on Outset Island, and soar away safely using the Deku Leaf. (An interesting point to mention is that if you look behind you while gliding, you will note that the Pig has charged right off the edge of the cliff and proceeded to run down the sheer wall in a blatant defiance of both you and physics. Thank God pigs can't fly.)

So Wind Waker doesn't depart from established tradition, but simply tweaks it. It's not Death by Cucco, it's Death by Pig. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but trust me, when you are running for your life with a tower of flesh-hungry pig inches away from you, and you realize that the constant bleeping you hear indicates Link's health meter has reached its last three hearts, and you remember that three hearts is going to stand up to this deviled ham like a slip of paper can stand up to a swinging sledgehammer with an erupting volcano attached to the head, you will realize that running from a pig is just as - if not more - terrifying than a few sickly chickens bumping into you that can barely keep their feathers from dragging on the ground long enough to attack.

Frighteningly enough, this behavior is also present in real chickens.

I spent 5 years raising free-range chickens for eggs when I was younger. We vaccinated all newly-hatched biddies as soon as they were strong enough to withstand a little handling. Ususally, this was done in a supply shed where all our medicines were kept, and as such, whoever was unlucky enough to be in charge that day had to go out to the run and capture as many of the fuzzy little bastards as possible while avoiding mutilation at the hands of protective hens. When a hen realizes her offspring is in danger, she puffs up to about 150% of her normal size and fucking wails.

It sounds like bagpipes being played by an epileptic Scotsman who is using an industrial compressor to keep them constantly inflated.

I can't speak for the larger, "fryer" variety chickens, but in our bantams, this sound makes all the other hens take to the air like a squadron of kamikaze bombers and slam into you with suprising force. Fortunately, they don't corner very well (think cow in a shopping cart), so it's fairly easy to sidestep them.

Still, the first time I provoked a cucco in OoT, I couldn't help but sympathize with poor Link.

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