Flappy Bird was great. Unfortunately, I must use the past tense when speaking about it because the game’s creator removed it from the mobile app stores years ago. Thankfully, the concept lives on in plenty of clones. And now Flappy Bird has reached its logical conclusion: a battle royale game.
Flappy Royale debuted last month as a free-to-play game for iOS, Android, and the web. As the name suggests, it has 99 players competing to outlast one another. If you missed the original Flappy Bird, it had you tapping your screen to guide an awkward flying creature through narrow gates. It was difficult, but it also seemed cheap and slapped together. Players would die after the first or second gate in most sessions, and designer Dong Nguyen borrowed a lot of assets from games like Super Mario World for the visuals. Yet, at the same time, Flappy Bird was appealing.
That appeal continues in Flappy Royale. It’s so simple and kinda silly to guide your bird characters through those gates, but it’s also thrilling. You always feel like you’re just one wrong button-press away from calamity. And those emotions pair well with the last-player-standing tension of a battle royale.
Flappy Royale is so good
For Flappy Royale, developers Orta Therox, Em Lazer-Walker, and Zach Gage borrowed concepts from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Each round starts with 99 players flying in on a bus — you just can’t drop in Tilted Towers or whatever.
Then suddenly, you are trying to play a game that feels exactly like Flappy Bird except with dozens of faded-out ghosts surrounding you on every side.
God, Flappy Bird is easily on the Mount Rushmore of mobile gaming, and it's probably in my personal top 50 games of all time pic.twitter.com/f9Wivh7Erq
— Grubb (@JeffGrubb) June 29, 2019
And this is why Flappy Royale works so well. It’s still just Flappy Bird with the trappings of a smart new genre slapped on top of it. You still feel barely in control, but now you can also see and hear everyone dying around you.
After the first gate, 50 people are usually going to lose. By gate eight or nine, you’re almost always alone with just a couple other players. This makes rounds feel hyper-quick. But they don’t lose any of the aforementioned drama and tension. Trying to gingerly guide your bird through the obstacles while just one other living player does the same is enough to raise my heartbeat up into my throat.
I really wish I liked other mobile games. But everything else I’ve tried feels dulled compared to Flappy Bird/Flappy Royale.
Yes, everything should be a battle royale
The battle royale idea might seem played out by now, but it’s probably just getting started. Flappy Bird only just now got this treatment, and it’s part of a recent wave that proves the last-player-standing concept is very versatile.
In February, Nintendo launched Tetris 99 as a bonus perk for people who subscribe to its Nintendo Switch Online service for $20 per year. And last month, before Nintendo’s lawyers got to it, a Super Mario Bros. Royale appeared online. Both of those are excellent games that work well both as successors within their own franchises as well as battle royales.
So a battle royale doesn’t need to be a shooter. And yes, we should make battler royale versions of everything. If Nintendo is going to DMCA the fan-made version, it better add a battle royale mode Super Mario Maker 2 very soon.