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Game Review #329: Bird Game + (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Reviewer: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Bryan Tabor

Publisher: Ratalaika

Category: Adventure, Simulation

Release Date: 5.3.2019

Price (at time of review): $4.99

Buy Bird Game + from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Pretty in Motion

Man, this game is pretty! My screenshots won’t do the flowing, monochromatic visuals justice. In motion, you will see the game almost paint your oncoming view as it gets closer, everything has an almost organic way of moving and flowing across the screen. Your titular bird reacts to all kinds of environmental input and stimuli; but past that, Bird Game + attempts to give you an almost Zen-like experience that ends up being frustrating due to clunky mechanics and horrible hit detection. Right off the bat, my experience was filled with frustrations, and it set the tone for my whole experience. There is potential here, but its pretty imagery and unique method of introducing new visuals is lost on the frustrating gameplay. Let’s get a little more into what's going on with Bird Game +.

The Problems Begin…

This game’s core gameplay is to control the titular bird, and you must fly ahead on rails (a la Star Fox almost) while dodging environmental obstacles, as well as other fauna! You will be dodging bugs, birds, rolling logs, weird vines, and more on your quest to get through this game’s main campaign mode. Each level is timed, and you can take a few hits before being returned to a checkpoint. You will be doing this on your way to a boss encounter, which is the grand crescendo for the level. All of this would be well and good, if not for the fact that you are constantly running into things you shouldn't be, due to the hitboxes being just plain terrible, or at very least, difficult to infer exactly what you will be getting hit by or dodging.

You can hold Y for a little quicker movement, but the game opens up trying to teach you that by telling you about pressing Y AFTER you should be already hugging the right side of the screen as a log rolls toward you. It just felt asinine to me, as I died over and over thinking I was doing something wrong in the opening minute of a game, until I frustratingly hugged the right side of the screen from the start of the level, only to JUST BARELY make it. It feels almost unfair to do that right at the start of the game, and that taste of unpolished-ness stuck with me throughout.

Monochrome Madness

The visuals, again, are beautiful. I feel like they were shooting for a Zen-like experience akin to Flower or Journey, but the frustration of getting hit by things you shouldn't really takes away any kind of Zen feeling it invokes and replaces it with rage. I’m not one to get mad at games, but a few times, this game had me cursing under my breath out of unfairness.

There is potential here, and it's a shame that it is squandered. When the bosses work correctly, they work great! A lot of times they have you putting into practice things you learned in their level leading up to them, and while some drag on JUST too long, I’d say the bosses were my favorite part of Bird Game +; and I wish the normal game was filled with such ideas, rather than a gauntlet of pretty visuals and bad collisions.

Wrapping Up

This game has some heart, and a very distinct style. There is absolutely merit in the visuals and artistic direction, but the whole experience is marred by the gameplay. I found myself enjoying the slightly-more-randomly-made-up arcade mode over the story personally, but it wasn’t enough to save this from being, as a whole, a frustrating experience. Maybe with some patching it could improve, but in its current state, I couldn’t say I’d recommend playing this yourself, unless $5 is enough for a little bit of pretty visuals. Maybe check out some gameplay on the net, and if the visuals really resonate with you, then go for it! But for me, Bird Game + was a 4/10 experience.

Score: 4/10

Buy Bird Game + from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Ratalaika

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