Flap, Jacked – Terry Cavanagh’s Maverick Bird

By Alec Meer on February 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

No, Christ, don’t look to me for an impassioned editorial about Flappy Bird. There’s already an Encyclopaedia Brittania’s worth of analytics-chasing bullshit* about this now-withdrawn mobile game and its overly-scrutinised creator out there already, as SEO-crazed news sites strain to capitalise on interest in a from-nowhere breakout hit. The trafficks! The precious trafficks! Worse, when concrete news ground to a halt, the airwaves filled instead with hasty supposition about how this is a lesson that we all need to be more excellent to each other. We most certainly do, but I hope the sites who have most doggedly pursued this game and its maker aren’t now using a masquerade of concern as a pretext to wring one more drop from this story’s bone-dry washrag.

I have seen only one truly convincing show of support for Flappy Bird itself, and it is telling that it is achieved almost wordlessly. Terry Cavanagh’s ‘fan game’ Maverick Bird uses his familiar abstract-minimalist style (as most famously seen in Super Hexagon), but without uttering even a single syllable demonstrates inarguable admiration and affection for what its understandably popular inspiration actually did.

Take away those green pipes that knee-jerkers got so fixated on, take away the flapping, take away all surface in fact, then add a bone marrow-twitching soundtrack and a searing wash of colour, and what do you have? An extremely tight and compulsive precision-action game. A high score attack challenge it’s very hard to stop playing. No bugger would have written angry editorials about this, even though its core is the same experience. Maverick Bird states and proves, so damn clearly, ‘this is why people liked Flappy Bird.’ And that, I think, is all that ever needed saying.

Maverick Bird is freeware, provides no revenue to anyone, and is appropriately difficult.


* Retroactive addition – not all of it, clearly. There is some strong and heartfelt writing about a bona fide cultural event out there, amidst the excess of initial meanness, subsequent bandwagon-jumping and tenuous follow-ups which prompted my ‘oh lord, is this still going on?’ tirade here.

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40 Comments »

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  1. Smi says:

    Good gracious, my eyes.

    It’s…brutal.

    (Currently, I have managed to score 4.)

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      Gap Gen says:

      Six, mother-lover!

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      DrScuttles says:

      My best is 8. I swear I used to be half good at videogames. Then again, this is Terry Cavanagh and he’s a magnificent bastard.

    • unangbangkay says:

      11, game friends!

      For what it’s worth, I actually find this easier than Flappy Bird. The diagonal openings of the barriers and the slightly straighter angle of the “flap” make it easier to set up a “clean” jump, while the dive allows emergency course correction. Of course the greater variation in terrain makes up for it, and I may have also done better by virtue of using my index finger on a keyboard vs. my fat thumb on a phone screen.

    • Berzee says:

      I got 15. My brother managed 23 somehow. (would you beleive it? my brother’s brother’s second aunt got 57 points/hour playing from home, etc…)

      • Kitsunin says:

        Dammit! I got 22 and now I feel like your bro having gotten 23 is a challenge!

        This game is way too good.

        EDIT: OKAY. 30 points. Gold medal unlocked. No, I don’t want the next medal -.-

      • Cloudiest Nights says:

        I’m not your brother but 23!

  2. Ocki says:

    Wow, pretty addicting. And soooo much more fun then Flappy Bird. My best score is 17. :)

  3. El Stevo says:

    Hah, 30!

    (I did play it for about an hour last night.)

  4. ran93r says:

    I find the background music, although excellent, makes the game even more rage inducing.

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    darkChozo says:

    Oof, is the game really laggy for anyone else? I’m getting some pretty bad stuttering and hitching, and it is really not conducive to anything resembling precision.

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      Sinomatic says:

      I’ve noticed a little lag and stuttering, yes. I don’t think it makes the slightest bit of difference to how well I’m doing in it personally though, 8 is my best thus far…

    • Berzee says:

      Are you playing in Firefox with Adblock turned on by any chance? Sometimes flixel games have problems in that circumstance. (If not — just consider yourself to be playing EXPERT MODE and multiply your score by 2).

  6. skyturnedred says:

    Best I got was 4 in about 10 tries and I already feel like I’ve been sodomized in some heinous way.

  7. shoefish says:

    Just hit 33, and now my monitor is warping before my eyes.

    • Jigowatt says:

      Looking at anything in the real world after playing this game for any length of time is seriously trippy.

  8. meepmeep says:

    Oh my word. This is fantastic, and I would gladly pay for a mobile version to replace my hexagonal habits.

    Only criticism though – is that sawtooth-alike obstacle actually possible?

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      SuddenSight says:

      When the sawtooth comes, the floor disappears. You just rest on the bottom of the screen (which is apparently safe when there is no floor).

    • Kitsunin says:

      I’ve never gotten through the one with the really steep ascending staircase myself.

  9. laiwm says:

    Now don’t yell at me for this, but I thought Flappy Bird had a very similar rhythm to Super Hexagon – that loop where you’re having to position your character to avoid the immediate obstacle while using your peripheral vision to plan for the next one. So I think it’s nice that Cavanagh appreciates it too.

  10. Tom Walker says:

    Ah, so now I know what Flappy Bird was like. I bet the music wasn’t as good as that, though.

    Best score of 9 in ten minutes of play.

  11. Paul.Power says:

    It should be noted that Maverick Bird was also an entry in a larger Flappy Bird jam session.

  12. Randomer says:

    Any word on the artist behind the soundtrack?

  13. Berzee says:

    Every story has a washrag, and some of those washrags are bone-dry. By evaluating the residual moisture levels in the washrag with proper instrumentation, the journalisms remaining in the associated story may also be fairly accurately determined.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I don’t know what camp this puts me in but I’m pretty certain there are only about three institutions that still practice journalism to this day. And one of them is Private Eye.

  14. The Random One says:

    That tumblr linked boggles the mind. It complains about all the Flappy Bird articles but does us the favour of collating them all in one place.

    No one’s interested in my take but here it is anyway: Kotaku bullies small dev into removing his most successful game off the store, the end.

    • tormos says:

      I feel like Kotaku’s (and others) fairly evident racism is also an important element to this story

  15. Greggh says:

    How does John W. feels about this game? Its release suceeded his article on games copyright, so it would seem nice to hear hear! his words.

    Then again, everytime John talks about a mildly known topic, commenters clamor for his head on a pike for being an SEO-optimisation-monger or selling words as ads, or whatnot… the shame!

  16. DarkFarmer says:

    heh, actually flappy bird totally made me think of Super Hexagon, in terms of like, start-overishness.

  17. therighttoarmbears says:

    I have played neither game, and remain largely ignorant of the flap surrounding this particular Bird, but wanted to post a tangential ode to something touched upon briefly in the body of this post: Bill & Ted. How what should have been a (set of) throw-away movie(s) ended up being so wonderful and joyous I will never know, but the exhortation of “Be excellent to each other” will endure far beyond most of the things that were said during its time period, you mark my words.

    • waaaaaaaals says:

      If there’s anything we take from the Bill and Ted films is that we do need to be more excellent to each other.

      Also we may need to buy more Chef Excellence products.

  18. aliksy says:

    I don’t understand how these games get so popular. But I never really liked super hexagon, either.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I think Flappy Bird capitalized on a shitty, easily shared name. Plus if it’s got birds in it and it’s on mobile, people will make angry bird comparisons… Money fight.

      Super Hexagon is a different matter – it did get popular but nothing on the scale of … well… anything bird related. It’s also fucking transcendental smack for my brain tubes and makes me so happy I see colours in the shades of grey. I mean it’s also a really finely crafted, excellent game that is a spiritual experience in and of itself. Time can slow right the fuck down so a few seconds last for hours. Hours can be burned away in moments. And your heart can stop for fully sixty seconds if you hit an enchanted moment of pure gaming bliss.

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