Opinion: Flappy Bird makes me angry, and not because it’s hard
February 11, 2014
Filed under Opinion
BY ADAM WILSON, Scene Editor
It’s not difficult to see that Flappy Bird is the latest craze in mobile gaming.
Everywhere I go, whether it’s class, the SURC or even my neighbors’ apartments, I can find at least one person trying to maneuver the crudely animated bird through pipes that look similar to a certain plumber’s best transportation tool.
I’m not usually one for mobile games. I grew up playing video games as my primary source of entertainment and nowadays I prefer story-driven games, like The Last of Us or Journey, or games with complex mechanics, like DOTA 2.
Even on the mobile market, I prefer serious, artistic games like “Device6” and “Year Walk” to a time waster any day of the week. (On that note, buy both of those games, they’re fantastic).
Every now and then, I get hooked on a mobile game for a few days.
While I managed an impressively high score, at least based on how mad my friends got when I showed them, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by Flappy Bird.
When I look at the history of mobile games with huge followings, I see games that, while simple in concept, turn out to be quite complex by mobile gaming standards.
The obvious one here is Angry Birds. I know a lot of people seem to despise the series for whatever reason, but I actually appreciate what the developers did with the game.
The puzzles are challenging and thought provoking, even more so as more birds and structure types get thrown into the mix. And don’t even get me started on Angry Birds Space, because the gravity mechanics in that is absolute genius as far as I’m concerned.
The next big game is Temple Run. Nowhere near as complex as Angry Birds, but once you get a run going longer than 15 seconds, the cat-like reflexes start to come out. And just as important is the ability to execute the necessary action under pressure.
Up next we have the Candy Crush Saga. I have my own reasons to hate the game (Hint: they trademarked “Candy”), but the bejeweled-remix is at least done well.
It’s also incredibly difficult when it starts adding new victory conditions to every puzzle. Removing a whole section of gray blocks gets frustrating after a while.
Lastly, perhaps the least player engaging of all of the games I’ve mentioned is Clash of Clans.
It’s the only mobile game I’ve actually seen a commercial for (unless Angry Birds had one back in the day). Sure, you only have to play the game for a few minutes a day to set up upgrades and attacks, but in the grand scheme of things it can be as complex as you want it to be.
And then I look at Flappy Bird. You press the screen and the bird jumps. Get through the gates, and you get points. It doesn’t get any more complex than that. No unlockables, no different modes, just that. It doesn’t get faster or more difficult either. Once you get a rhythm for the first five or so gates, the next twenty become trivial.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely hard to get a rhythm. I guarantee you won’t get through more than two gates on your first try. But it took me, what, 10 mintues to get over the learning curve? Within a couple days I hit 119, and a typical run usually gets me 30-40 points.
Sure, it’s addicting. I’m not trying to say it’s poorly designed. But when I look at the history of popular mobile games and see how complex they actually can be or get, Flappy Bird disappoints me. I hope this game doesn’t start a downward trend of simplicity in the mobile game market because they’re already much simpler than a standard console or handheld game.