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Flappy Bird Review (iOS)

Flappy Bird
.GEARS Studios

Say hello (and goodbye) to Flappy Bird, the tapping craze that was sweeping across smartphones everywhere until it mysteriously vanished. A lot of controversy has surrounded Dong Nguyen, the sole member of .GEARS Studios, who created Flappy Bird, as to its disappearance, Nguyen’s profit and various other aspects of this physics-based flyer. Given its removal from the App Store out of the blue and Nguyen’s vague responses on Twitter, it’s hard to pinpoint a viable reason why Flappy Bird is no longer available for download. There have been tremendous responses to the simplicity of Flappy Bird and its addictive nature. usually focusing in on the frustration the masses have had with it. Flappy Bird has been the talk of the town, and it’s time to officially weigh-in and see if it’s worth the controversy, hype and broken screens.

Flappy Bird
.GEARS Studios

Flappy Bird’s premise is simple — tap to flap. You control a round, cycloptic bird who has a terrible problem with gravity. The bird cannot accurately fly straight, so you must help the bird flap its wings as it navigates the endless level of pipes in its way with a motion of travel we can only describe as “Magikarp-ing”.

The rotund bird will continuously side-scroll through the level. You simply tap the screen each time you want the bird to flap its wings, resulting in it rising for a split second just before gravity starts pulling it back down again. You must time each of your taps just right in order to effectively bounce your bird up and down in the air between each pipe’s opening.

Flappy Bird
.GEARS Studios

This is where the frustration of Flappy Bird comes into play. Flappy Bird’s premise is extremely simple, but the bird’s controls are quite sensitive. This title is designed to make you fail dozens of times to perfect your rhythm and learn how to accurately elevate the bird when needed. Each pipe’s gap appears to be set at random. Sometimes you’ll encounter gaps that are placed in tandem, requiring very little change added to the rhythm of the flaps. Other times it seems as if the openings go from high to low and back again out of nowhere, which are the most difficult periods of navigation. This adds to the amount of frustration with this title because you would die from a miniscule mistake in a decent run just to start another one and die extremely early in the beginning. Most other endless runner titles will maintain a degree of pacing in their beginnings in order to get you into the rhythm of things, which does not happen with Flappy Bird.

Flappy Bird
.GEARS Studios

There are several aspects of Flappy Bird’s design that caused us to scratch our heads. When compared to Piou Piou, which was first released on smartphones and as a flash game back in 2011, Nguyen’s game looks even less impressive Flappy Bird looks and plays an awful lot like Piou Piou, which could explain Nguyen’s decision to go with a very retro look to try and make it look somewhat different than Piou Piou; if Flappy Bird’s graphics were more contemporary, the similarities would most likely be more noticeable. Instead, Nguyen took an already done concept and gave it a graphical downgrade in hopes that no one would notice Piao Piao, which in turn, resulted in him using designs that are simply way too similar to various Super Mario titles for them to be coincidence.

The background of having giant bushes (simulating treetops) block tall buildings with clouds behind them are all too familiar to the opening title sequences of Super Mario World. The bird itself looks like Cheep-Cheep (with one eye subtracted), which has been an aquatic enemy of Mario for many years, and the pipes? Let’s just say there’s only been one place where we’ve ever seen green pipes like that before. From the bird to the skyline to the pipes, it would seem that Nguyen looked to the Mario games as a means of re-imaging his own version of Piao Piao.

Flappy Bird
.GEARS Studios

Even when critiquing Flappy Bird on a casual level, there’s nothing to really warrant playing it than trying to raise your high score. Sure, the insta-death and fast pace of Flappy Bird could be enticing enough to encourage repeated plays in the attempt of new records, but the truth is that Flappy Bird is extremely shallow — tap to flap, die, repeat. Its designs appeared to have been taken almost directly out of previously existing titles and, ultimately, Flappy Bird was a shallow, flash-in-the-pan smartphone anomaly that we’re not going to miss.

This review was completed using a purchased copy of Flappy Bird for iOS.

3.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating

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