Finger Peckin’ Good: No, Birdie, No!

By Alec Meer on October 19th, 2012 at 4:30 pm.

My face looks like this all day every day

The simplest ideas are so often the best. And so often the most brutally challenging to play too – see Super Hexagon, for a recent masochistic example. Or free browser game No, Birdie, No!, which may just be the cruellest videogame I’ve ever played.

And is brilliant with it.

You play a dude hanging off a cliff by his fingertips. A cruel bird comes to the edge and looks down. And pecks and pecks and pecks and pecks at his desperate digits. They turn red and wounded, unable to grip. He falls. He dies. The end.

All you can do is delay that death by seconds.

A,S,D,F are your only controls, each one corresponding to matched pair of fingers – A for pinkies, F for index, others for the others. You need to keep as many buttons held down all the time as possible, or the suitably terrified-looking fellow will fall, but you need to rapidly release any endangered digits so that its brutal peck misses. This involves a sort of QWOP-esque co-ordination that I lack, but even the more adept will see success measured in seconds rather than minutes.

It succeeds both because its brutal and because, despite the Gobliiins-esque graphics, it does a fine, chilling job of conveying the terror and desperation of the awful, absurd situation.

Also it is funny when the little bird pecks the man’s fingers.

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34 Comments »

  1. phelix says:

    Damn, nature, you scary!

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      Okami says:

      Truly, we live on a horrifying planet!

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        Biscuitry says:

        Huh. When that video purported to be about robins as murderers, I expected it to focus on the European robins which, as most garden owners know, actually kill each other.

        • identiti_crisis says:

          Yeah, they’re viciously territorial little fuckers. But they’re so cheeky and cute, you can’t help but love ‘em.

          I send them to all my friends at Christmas. On Christmas cards, obviously. Not live ones, though, that’d be sick!

  2. neolith says:

    Someone broke Kong. :(

  3. DyvimTvar says:

    I suspect that the mouse pointer on the guy’s nose is what actually keeps him from climbing back up.

  4. Disc0 says:

    I broke the game on the 3rd play. I found the controls frustrating on the first two, and only really because for the person’s left hand, the keys are reversed.

    The man can hang by just one finger (per hand) at a time. The bird ai will always peck at whatever one finger is up if only one is up. 2+2=change the key you hold the second after the bird respawns at that finger.

    I hate games that rely on a confusing control mechanic to challenge your brain. Especially when you needn’t utilize it.

    I guess it can become a challenge of strategizing holding 2 fingers and thus simplifying it but allowing for one mistake, if you really want a high score on No, Birdie, No!.

    But no yea this game sucks IMHO. No offense. [/curmudgeon]

    • Phantoon says:

      I don’t think that’s an IMHO, I think it’s an IMO.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I know what you mean: I’m using a dvorak keyboard. This game is impossible.

      • Low Life says:

        My laptop keyboard doesn’t seem to support A, S, D and F pressed at the same time. This game is impossible. Because I can’t even start playing.

        • w4nderlust says:

          Sorry, it’s an hardware problem, the keyboard buffer of you laptop is too small.

    • sinister agent says:

      All control systems are confusing if you’re new to games. Have you ever watched someone try to play a video game for the first time ever? It’s hilarious.

      And well done, you found an exploit. You win. You are the best at having fun. Collect a badge.

      • MD says:

        Come on, I know he was a bit rude about it, but this is a game whose entire purpose is to provide a hand-eye challenge, which unfortunately becomes trivially easy if you try your best. It’s hardly an irrelevant criticism.

    • w4nderlust says:

      Go and see the option menu for changing hand.

      You will see a patch (maybe tomorrow) that makes your strategy really less effective. Anyway keeping pressed less fingers makes the score grow slower, if you broke the game you should have realized it :)

      • zaphos says:

        Slower score growth may not be enough to keep the game from being broken, if that strategy lets him survive indefinitely (ie until bored rather than until pecked) …

        Also the score itself is not a strong motivator because (A) it’s a meaningless number, not something like “seconds survived” that people can relate to, (B) there’s no indication that it’s growing slower, so people likely won’t notice, (C) the scores don’t appear to be saved / tracked properly? It just shows the current score, not high, and doesn’t record in the high score table unless you stop playing (?) (and then only the most recent score?)

        I found myself getting bored with a similar strategy: alternately hold AF and SD if the bird was at the middle or outside fingers respectively. I still died eventually though, so it didn’t really break the game — just made it feel a bit slow to ramp.

        • w4nderlust says:

          Some good points here. I have to say that at the begining (in an early version of the game) the score was exactly the time, but then trying to penalize who use less fingers i added a bonus for the number of fingers. The B point anyway makes sense and the “never ending” thing is important to notice too. I will about how to fix those things, but for now i’ll update the game with a smaller patch that helps a bit :)

      • MD says:

        I think it needs more than that, because you really can succeed indefinitely by alternating between two pairs of keys, or a set of three and the other one. (I did the former for a long time with no difficulty or skilful play, to the point of giving up out of boredom once it seemed clear nothing would change.)

        I’m not trying to be a dickhead — I think this is a cool concept from which you could potentially make something really fun and/or hilariously frustrating. But at the moment it can only work if the player intentionally handicaps him/herself in an arbitrary way, which is a fatal flaw in a game that is all about facing a mechanical challenge and setting high scores.

        I don’t think the problem is unsolvable, though. You could go with the blunt approach of requiring three fingers down at all times, but it might be more interesting to try some sort of stamina system, for example. I’m sure there are other possibilities too, like making unheld fingers vulnerable to certain attacks, etc.

        edit: I guess the easiest solution would be to add a time limit, which would make the speed of score growth important. I also misread your post a little bit — perhaps you’ve already got this covered in the planned patch.

        • w4nderlust says:

          Thanks for the feedback, ours alongside with he other ones make me think about the best way to improve the game. I think the stamina idea could be a start point, i’ll think about it, but i don’t want the game to became overcomplicated because i think that it’s simple brutality is it’s best feature :)
          Anyway, a random movement for the bird (even on non pressed fingers) will at least avoid the 2 fingers switch pattern, and i think i will add this in the patch

      • Disc0 says:

        Valid points sir, I hadn’t explored options, didn’t notice about the points, and never expected a coder to see my comment and mention plans for a patch to defeat my strategy. Full marks to you. Apologies for publicly crapping on your game which is not bad and has stolen several tens of my minutes.

        I think a good fix and overall improvement would be a movement animation for the birdie, that could trick the player with fakeouts and changing speed. Just a thought.

        • w4nderlust says:

          That could be an idea, thanks for the feedback. For now i thought of a quick and dirty solution, but maybe i can explore this option too in the future.

  5. Kyrall says:

    My second game was so much easier, using my right hand so that the keys corresponded to the correct fingers…

    • w4nderlust says:

      Try to go to the option menu, you can set the keys for the lefthand

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    Simplisto says:

    I wish Unity Web Player worked on Linux ☹

    • w4nderlust says:

      With Unity 4 it should work for Linux too. Just wait a little bit more please :)

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        Simplisto says:

        That’d be wonderful. I might even look into developing in Unity myself if that’s the case. Right now I’m sticking to HTML5 games as I want to exclude as few people as possible.

  7. Rhin says:

    Amerish must have been that continent that declared independence from Britannica in 1776.

  8. The Tupper says:

    Thirty years ago Atari would’ve charged 15 quid for that (not including the keypad that was only otherwise of use in Star Raiders).

    Yes. I’m still bitter.

  9. Text_Fish says:

    I can courageously report that this is not a good game to play when you have a fever. 3300 is my best score so far.

  10. Shadowcat says:

    That sounds like 2D graphics with minimal animation. Unity is a fully-fledged 3D game engine, yeah? Overkill much?

    • w4nderlust says:

      I agree with you, but we made this game in 12 hours for the Edge Create contest, one of it’s constraints (other than the “theme” wich was “edge” and i think we really got it) was to use Unity for making the games. And still, unity is not hte best choice for 2d games, we would have preferred to use something simpler, without polygons and camera angles and so on… anyway, there are quite few 2d games made with unity out there, so there are a lot of masochists like us around the world :)

  11. SuperNashwanPower says:

    The full title of this game should be
    NO BIRDIE NO: Headache Generator
    Where’s my Ibuprofen?