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 There’s already an Encyclopaedia Brittania’s worth of analytics-chasing bullshit* about this now-withdrawn mobile game and its overly-scrutinised creator out there already, as SEO-crazed news sites strain to capitalise on interest in a from-nowhere breakout hit.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.