The latest app to rise to portable fame is Flappy Bird, with screenshots of this fun yet hugely frustrating game making their rounds on the social media networks. Adopting a visual style very similar to that found in Super Mario games, your task is to aid a struggling airborne bird through gaps between pipes without touching the pipes themselves.
Whilst on the surface this sounds easy, it is the exact opposite in every single way. The controls are simple too; just a tap on your smartphone’s screen and the plump bird juts upwards. Rather than gliding through the gap with style more often than not you donk your head on the corner of a pipe, causing immediate death and a strong desire to dropkick your mobile device.
Amongst the huge fan base of Flappy Bird there is a special place reserved for those who get a score of anything above thirty, whilst the rest fester about constantly getting a score of one, which was only given because they got half-way through the first gap before grazing the corner of a pipe, which would obviously kill a bird instantly. Flappy Bird succeeds with games such as Monopoly for starting wars between friends, and turning sibling against sibling (if that wasn’t already there of course). Viral videos have emerged on how to get an ‘invincibility cheat’ for this maddening game, but they turn out to be spoof videos, urging us to uninstall the app so our lives can go back to loving our phones, tablets and people again.
If only it were that simple, as Flappy Bird is secretly a great game. No matter how many expletives or rants in public its causes you, you always go back to it with open arms; like that friend who always “borrows” your stuff for months but you can never seem to say no to when they ask. Despite the game, created by independent game designer Dong Nguyen, having been available for free on various app stores for months, the game rose to greatness thanks to social media and as a result has spawned a number of spinoffs, most of which allow you to smush the birds that taunt you with their strange flight patterns.
Points are lost for its blatant rip-off of Super Mario: even the bird looks shockingly similar to the jumping fish-things found the Mario games, but perhaps this is part of its charm. I once dressed up and Luigi for a games convention in London, and instead of people telling me I was weird or not knowing who I was, even normal people were saying hi and putting on pretty shameful Italian accents. Perhaps it is this familiarity and nostalgia that makes Flappy Bird a bearable game, coupled with the mercifully quick game time and an inescapable addictiveness, Flappy Bird turns into a game that everyone can enjoy and enjoy hating.
Words by Louise Egan