Ever since Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen pulled his hit game Flappy Bird from both the Apple and Android app stores, both marketplaces have received a ridiculous number of clones from developers trying to fill the void, like Flappy Crow up there.
So many knockoffs have appeared, in fact, that it seems a shame not to do anything with them. So I pulled a bunch and decided to give them awards for originality (or not). Enough are still coming out that I could do this every week, but don’t worry; I won’t.
Winner — A Bird’s Life
Sure, it still has a bird. And yes, it’s still avoiding pipes. But A Bird’s Life wins here for two reasons. First, because its title doesn’t follow the convention “____y ____,” and second, because it puts in a lot of effort into creating its own version of the idea. The pipes aren’t just vertical, for starters, and the whole thing has a cool stitch-work style that kind of makes you forget it’s not an original concept.
And if they’re charging $4 in the App Store, at least the developers put some work in.
Runner-up — Lonely Ghost
I couldn’t tell that Lonely Ghost was a Flappy Bird rip-off until I actually downloaded and played it. It wasn’t apparent from the screenshots on iTunes — although in my defense, they are pretty crappy shots — but it’s the same “tap to fly and don’t hit anything” gameplay and terrible collision detection as Flappy Bird.
But Lonely Ghost is cute; you really feel for the little guy as you get him killed (again?) over and over. His enemies: rectangles and lava.
Winner — Flappy Bees
Oh, Flappy Bees. You tried. Except, no. You didn’t.
Not only did the developer of Flappy Bees not do much with the title, but it also kept the same pipes straight out of Super Mario World. But it made them yellow pipes instead of green, which would be fine except for the fact that Super Mario World also has yellow pipes.
Add in the fact that the grass and background look even more ripped out of Mario than Flappy Bird’s graphics, and Flappy Bees is an even bigger rip-off than the game it’s ripping off.
Runner-up — Tap Tap Flap: Red Bird
You can change the bird and put girders in instead of pipes, but we know what you did, creator of Tap Tap Flap. I mean, at least the name of the game isn’t “Flappy Burd” or something, but that’s about the only way this could feel less inspired.
Look at Lonely Ghost up there. He’s a ghost! He’s vulnerable to lava, and he’s sad. He inspires pathos. Tap Tap Flap Bird, you don’t even have a name. You’re just Not Flappy Bird.
I don’t even like Flappy Bird, and this offends me.
Best bird analog
Winner — Flappy Dragon Fish
Several real-life species of animal bear the name “dragonfish.” The star of this game is none of them. He is his own beast, a proud creature neither completely dragon nor entirely fish. He’s like Robocop if Robocop had to spend his life narrowly avoiding jellyfish and was also an aquatic dragon.
I like Flappy Dragon Fish. He has enough moxie to make up for his unsettling lack of arms.
Runner-up — Flappy Cat: Pirate
The title of this game kind of suggests that an entire suite of Flappy Cat games exist, like publisher Ubisoft’s Imagine series, which at last count contained 46 entries. But no. This is somehow the only Flappy Cat around; the developer just wants you to know upfront that he is a pirate.
I suppose the people who made Flappy Cat: Pirate know the value of giving the people what they want, and it’s possible that the only thing more appealing to the Internet than a cat is a cat who is also, somehow, a pirate. It was either that or a Flappy Cat: Zombie Ninja, and that might have broken the App Store.
Worst bird analog
Winner — Flutter Bug
If you’re making a game based on another game about one type of animal, it’s usually a good idea to make your animal better to make your game stand out and look more awesome. The developer of Flutter Bug didn’t get that memo and instead made a game about a ladybug that immediately drops dead if it goes anywhere near a sunflower.
I can understand Flappy Bird on some level: If a bird hits a pipe going full speed, it’s in trouble. But I see ladybugs sitting on flowers all the time, and they’re alive and everything.
Wait a minute … you guys. I think video games lie to us.
Runner-up — Flappy Blowfish
I like blowfish. I like their spines, their shape, and that ridiculous look on their faces. I especially like that they can inflate themselves to several times their normal size to scare off predators. That’s cool.
Flappy Blowfish, however, can’t do that. All he can do is swim and die. So why is he even a blowfish? He could have been Flappy Manatee for all the bearing it has on the game.
By the way: Flappy Manatee? Still available.
Best pipe analog
Winner — Flappy Devil
Something has always bothered me about Flappy Bird: Where the hell were those upper pipes coming from? I mean, I know it’s a video game and we have some issues of scale to consider. But now that I think about it, where did any of those pipes come from, and why doesn’t the bird just go around them if they’re so damned dangerous? You’re outside, Flappy; get your shit together.
Flappy Devil fixes two of those problems by taking place in a cave and having players avoid stalactites and stalagmites. I still don’t know why he doesn’t go around the stupid things, but at least I understand why they’re there.
Runner-up — Flappy Nerd
Flappy Nerd takes place in Doodle Land, and our brave hero must flap his tiny arms to avoid pencils. This is another case of the obstacle making sense for the setting even if the setting doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in itself. But it also explains why he can’t go around, since he’s a doodle or whatever and therefore two-dimensional.
But maybe we shouldn’t spend too much time unspooling the lore of Flappy Nerd. That could take all day.
Worst pipe analog
Winner — Saudade
The weird thing about Saudade is that it has some interesting visual elements. The fish looks pretty cool, anyway.
That’s why it’s disappointing that the obstacles you’re sending him through are so boring. They’re rectangles. And I’m not an oceanographer, but I’m hard-pressed to name any place on Earth in which these formations exist. Throw in some rocks or something, please. You spent all that time on the fish. Look at him in that screenshot; he doesn’t even understand what that thing is.
Runner-up — Floaty Fish
I’ve already said my piece about the pipes and stuff not making sense, but this is a special case because it tries to have it both ways. Floaty Fish is trying to avoid mines. And these are apparently special mines that can float or sink as needed with no change in appearance.
Do you see that mine over there floating up from the bottom of the ocean? About 10 feet away is an identical mine extending down from the surface. Who placed these things, and why? And how? And what would have happened to them if they’d accidentally put a floaty mine where they wanted a sinky one? They’d all be dead, is what. Mark your mines, kids.
Even Floaty Fish is calling bullshit.
Best App Store description
Winner — Flappy Pants
I mean, it’s really hard to go wrong with an app in which you control a pair of floating pants that appear to be in pursuit of a naked man. And the developer is aware of this and just lays it all out in the App Store description. Here are some choice bits:
- Among the features: “Simple controls! Pants! Sweet Animations!”
- “Can you get the high score — Who wears the pants?”
- “Flappy Flappy Flappy till you are Happy Happy Happy!”
OK — I know this is dumb. But it’s a game about pants, damn it. Paaaaaaaaants.
Runner-up — Die 2 Fly: Penguin Adventure HD
Yes, this is a flying game about a flightless bird. And normally that would have put this game in the running for “Worst Bird Analog,” but that ignores one important fact: Penguins are adorable.
The developer is aware of all this, though. “Penguins can’t fly,” the description says. “This one thinks he can; can you survive the icy pole hazards?”
That line has two things going for it: an acknowledgement that the game is, in fact, wildly scientifically inaccurate and the phrase “icy pole hazards,” which in this case means “pipes identical to the ones in Flappy Bird except these ones are blue, but sssshhhhh.”
Winner — Aqua Bird: Super Pipe Saga
Do I even need to say why this won? In this flap-free title, you play as a boy riding the Aqua Bird rocket through an obstacle course of giant tubes full of sharks. The whole thing sounds like a spin-off of Axe Cop (a comic whose writer created it when he was 5 years old), and it has a suitably awesome name to go along with it.
If this game were a cartoon, I would watch the hell out of it.
Runner-up — Owl Fly 2014
Before you ask: No, this is not the latest entry in an annual series. But it sounds like one, and that’s why it’s the runner-up.
Owl Fly 2014 doesn’t offer much else in the way of creativity or not being like Flappy Bird, but I like to imagine an annual Owl Fly event, like when people dress up dachshunds like hot dogs and make them race.
Only more dignified and with way more talons.
Winner — Splashy Eagle Flyer
Somebody please help me understand this game.
You play as an eagle. I get that part. But I don’t know where “splashy” comes from, nor do I understand why the eagle in question is flying around inside someone’s house. And are the bookshelves the obstacles, or do the pets count, too? How big does this house have to be to give an eagle enough room to fly forever?
And how freaking big must that mouse be to have made a hole taller than the cat?
Runner-up — Cheeky Monkeys
This one was really close. I couldn’t figure out if it was more confusing to play as an eagle inexplicably flying indoors or a monkey inexplicably flying at all.
In the end, the eagle won, but that doesn’t mean this title makes any more sense. Look at the size of those coconuts. Behold the monkey’s too-red behind. Marvel at how this character is moving at all.
All these mysteries and more can be yours in Cheeky Monkeys.