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Swing Copters reviewed! Flappy Bird sequel superbly frustrating

Swing Copters is a fine game, and while hard as hell, it’s still essentially Flappy Bird 2

Price: Free
Size: 7.9 MB
Version: 1.1.0
Platform: iOS Universal

Here it is! Dong Nguyen’s Flappy Bird follow up, which is, after all the fuss that was made by the developer over its ‘addictive’ nature and eventual pull from the App Store, presumably designed to be less addictive. We think it treads a thinner line in that while it may still be addictive, it’s probably addictive to less people – by which we mean it’s so frustratingly high, more players are likely to delete the app without much more than a second thought.

Onwards and upwards, hopefully, possibly, probably not

Onwards and upwards, hopefully, possibly, probably not

So, the game – it features another pixelated little sprite, not dissimilar (like much of the game) to the bird from the first game. This time however, you have to guide your character up, rather than across. To do this, you have to tap the screen, which changes its direction. However, it’s far from simple. The character is most of the time wildly out of control, and a slight millisecond delay in tapping, and it will fly off to the side of the screen and crash. Alternatively, it will hit one of the hammers and likewise, crash and burn. This sees you struggle to even reach one or two points in the beginning, however, don’t let that put you off as since its release, a minor update has been put out and sees the hammers’ swing slowed somewhat, making it marginally easier.

Oof. Back down you go

Oof. Back down you go

Wild celebrations

There really is no easing in either, or run up like most games – it’s just straight up, tap, tap, crash. Repeat about 20 times, until you finally gain enough control to get a point; cue wild celebrations and another hour playing trying to reach 2 points. The difference, then, is between how many people will pick it up and realize getting that frustrated over an iPhone game is not a good way to spend a Monday afternoon, and instantly put it down again.

Reactions in the App Store are mixed, reviews ranging from “rubbish” to “too hard”, but also a few “surprisingly good’s”, mixed in among a few parodical reviews which tell the story of the user spiraling back into addiction after using therapy to previously cure them of their Flappy Bird reliance: “I now live in a trash can and am wanted by the police in 36 different states” – that kind of thing.

You'll notice our screenshots are at lower levels - don't want to mess up a good score!

You’ll notice our screenshots are at lower levels – don’t want to mess up a good score!

Commercial savvy

But on a base level, Nguyen’s commercial savvy has really made our headspin. He sounded frankly odd when he first started bemoaning the addictive nature of his own game back when he pulled Flappy Bird from the App Store, and we didn’t think he had it in him – but to create another game where the player crashes out after often just seconds? Repeatedly? And each time a new ad appears? And the button mashing nature of the game means that players could accidentally tap the ads at any moment? Well… that’s pretty damn smart.

That’s not to say the game is just some cynical commercial ploy… though you do wonder… it is genuinely fun to play in the same way… the exact same way as its predecessor. Though this time around you have to put more work in at the start to get past the initial frustration and build up enough skill to get a respectable score. And it’s all in the scoring. As soon as games start awarding you points in the thousands for a cheap move, the rewards becoming almost meaningless. To get a five on Swing Copters, however, well, sit back and take the day off my friend, because you’ve worked your fingers practically to the bone.

Oh, the dizzy heights. Points feel more important when there's so few of them

Oh, the dizzy heights. Points feel more important when there’s so few of them

Absolutely fine

In essence, the game is just an inverted version of Flappy Bird. The character looks like the bird with a safety helmet and some propellors. On the one hand, this could be seen as consistency in Nguyen’s work; keeping his world and the canon within it. But on the other hand, you could just see it as a rehash of what was already a pretty average game. No doubt the developer will continue to ride high on the wave of success, but it’s now based purely on a concept and reputation than any actual development skill. Swing Copters, like Flappy Bird, is absolutely fine – but when there are so many other great games coming out, truly breaking ground on the mobile game market, it’s a shame so many more worthy contenders will crash out in the shadow of Swing Copters.

For those that were sad about the disappearance of Flappy Bird, well, don’t worry – because it’s back, it’s just on a different axis.