Electricity + Birds = Fun
When meeting with Namco Bandai at GDC this year, I expected to see the usual slew of Pacman remakes and other classic games. Instead, I saw a TNA Wrestling title and this little gem. Bird Zapper is a cute match-puzzle title created for the iPad and iPhone that charms as well as it entertains.
The adorable opening cinematic shows a poor squirrel who’s iPod is fried somehow due to birds sitting on nearby power lines. His reaction? Why, to find a car battery and exact his revenge, of course! The gameplay is very simple, and consists of dragging your finger on the screen to create a path of electricity that connect birds of the same type. You must connect at least three, and when you do, they are electrocuted and fall of the wires. As you progress, more bird types and more electrical wires will appear, allowing you to get bigger combos while overwhelming you with a lots of activity on the screen.
There are a couple different special abilities you can gain by electrocuting the right birds, such as the ability to freeze all birds on the line, or shoot them down like a carnival game. There are three modes to play that are standard for this kind of game: Survival (limited battery juice that must be refilled), Blitz (limited time), and Zen (unlimited juice/time). There is also a large list of achievements via Game Center, and online leader boards.
The big draw of the game to me are the colorful and crisp cartoon graphics. Also, it is simply satisfying to electrocute birds and watch their feathers fly! The animation is smooth, and the different bird types look quite comical. My biggest complaint comes with some odd behaviors from the stream of electrical energy that follows your finger. Quite often you’ll create a stream of electricity around a group of birds only to have none of them get electrocuted, or only part of them. I think this is due to the odd way the electricity behaves in light of the birds moving from left to right – the electricity sometimes moves with the birds more than other times. It’s not a game breaker by any means, but it could certainly cause you to lose when you thought you had a big combo on your hands.
Bird Zapper is the kind of 99 cent game I like to see on the app store. The gameplay is frantic, and the birds are cute. It’s not super deep, but has enough challenges to keep you coming back. It takes advantage of the iPad with “HD” graphics and some great animations, and I imagine it would be a great time sink for small kids that need something to entertain them (or adults, for that matter).