How Flappy Bird Flapped to Fame
“Flappy Bird is the hardest game I’ve played.” “Flappy bird is the worst game ever.” “Flappy bird is stupid.” These are some of the opinions I’ve heard around me hurled at the overnight success that came out in early 2013. And these remarks are coming from none other than those who are playing it, hooked to it like an addict on heroin. Well, probably not that bad. But you get the idea.
Before we delve any deeper into this, what is Flappy Bird?
It’s 2D side scrolling 8 bit game somewhat inspired by Mario aesthetics with large green pipes and colorful backgrounds. The scenario is that you control a mono optical bird that more wobbles than flies and that’s the basic mechanic of the game – you tap on the screen as the game scrolls, and you avoid colliding with the pipes or falling to your doom, which happens rather rapidly as soon as you stop tapping.
This actually sounds like a very simple concept, in the same way that golf is a simple concept, or pacman is a simple concept. It’s actually extremely difficult. I honestly had zero interest in playing this game that every one hated to love. There I was having lunch when my peers began to convey their frustration about the game, and how difficult it was. A little voice in my head suddenly went, “Challenge accepted!” Within fifteen minutes I had a high score of 15 and lost my skepticism about it’s difficulty. It was apparently an impressive score for someone just starting out, so I was glad. I found myself playing it for almost an hour one night, pushing my high score to about 91 and that’s where it’s sitting and will sit. Not because I’m unable to go beyond that, but simply because I don’t have any desire to spend any more time on it. The game is all about patience and timing, and not being trigger happy.
So why do people hate it?
Well… Because it’s frustrating. And because it’s your fault that you are failing. The game is free, there are no intrusive ads to get in the way, or any twelve year olds shouting obscenities at you as you try go wobble through the pipes – all of which means that if you fail, you fail because of you, and nothing else. Sure the hitbox is a little off, but it’s mostly you and that is pretty darn frustrating.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it, Flappy Bird is far from the ‘worst game ever’. It’s even farther from “a bad game.” It’s actually a great game. Fixing the hitboxes a little bit, and the glitches would have fine tuned it to a much better product – too bad the Vietnamese creator Dong Nguyen decided to take it down.
Why do I say that it’s a really good game?
Several reasons. There’s another game that I used to play frequently a few weeks ago. Giant Boulder of Death. But I got frustrated with that game for a different reason other than ‘it was hard’. It wasn’t hard. It was fairly simple. You rolled down a hill and hit stuff and avoid the red spikey things. But I got frustrated with it nonetheless. I couldn’t restart the game fast enough. Sure, I want to see what score I did. But I also want to just start a new game RIGHT AWAY. I don’t want to see all my scores add up, my gold add up, and then an advertise that slows down my phone and the game, and go through so many animations. I mean it’s all pretty nicely done. But after the 5th time in a sitting, it kinda gets annoying having to go through these things so many times. In Flappy Bird, upon losing the round, it takes maybe two-three seconds to restart the game. In this day and age of instant everything, this sort of thing really appeals to my sensibilities.
What else is good about Flappy Bird?
There’s no pay-to-win bullshit. You install, and you immediately start playing. It’s THAT simple. And a round can last anywhere from one second to five minutes (if you’re that good) – it’s perfect for any situation. Its beauty lies in its simplicity.
Flappy Bird is a great simple game based on (mostly) pure skill and that’s why I think it’s actually a good game, deserving of the spotlight it got. It’s definitely a much better game to invest your time into than Candy Crush, even if to simply stick it to the big corps. The frustration is well placed and appropriate but the negative remarks are not.
I say that Flappy Bird is one of the better casual games on the mobile platform. Rest In Peace, Flappy Bird.