Over the recent weeks, something rather curious has happened on the AppStore which has made the world take note.
A rather unlikely sounding free game called Flappy Bird has mysteriously appeared at the top of Apple’s AppStore chats. I say mysteriously, because it really is the most unlikely of phenomenons. Firstly, it’s an infuriating experience where you keep a fat pixel art bird afloat while it avoids green pipes who look awfully familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Mario game.
Your average play session lasts in terms of seconds. Despite being released last June, it took the top spot on the charts almost overnight, causing some people to suspect some kind of foul, robotic, nocturnal night soddery.
You’d have to be a bit of a sour-puss to deny Flappy Bird of being fun. Even with its dodgy collision and unabashed coder art, it’s so instantly understandable and engaging that you can’t have the one solitary go. The 80’s veteran in me also gives a sage and contented nod to the fierce high score competitions it has sparked over workplace tea-break chats.
The original spirit of arcade videogaming may be long leeched from the arcades by the fruit machines, but it lives on in unlikely places. Tiny oasises of balls, xen focus and bog break fury. Flappy Bird has it, but it isn’t alone. There’s more out there which have that secret “Gotta do better than John in accounts” thing going on, and that’s what we’re celebrating here.
Those instant action, pure skill games that gobble you up, chew you into a pulp and spit you back out in the time it takes for the kettle to boil. The nuggets of gold that the opportunist gamer can spend a life-time panning for in the cack-drowned river of the AppStore. Looks don’t matter, for indeed, wasn’t that holy grail Indiana Jones looking for the one that looked the most ropey?
Allow us to save you the bother and present you with a list of AppStore alternatives to Flappy Bird which are packed to the gills in that ‘Original Spirit’ of high score chasing. intensity and brutally short play times:
1001 Attempts – Cookiebit
Dodge enemies, collect gems and invert gravity in this unassuming power-house of xen-gaming bliss. Not the most attractive of games, but what it loses in immediately engagable aesthetic it makes up for in sheer particle abuse. Shattered particles pour from hazards, peppering the screen with trance enducing perpetual reward ceremony within seconds of play. Which is lucky, because within a few more precious seconds you’ll have died.
Hoppy Bobby – Jayenkai
Initially excrutiating, eventually almost transcendental. Hoppy Bobby from Jayenkai is an excersize in rhythm, flow and not screaming obscenities on the train when you plummet to you inevitable demise.
Juggle – Denki
Branded as a ‘microgame’ – Juggle is essentially billy-no-mates ‘pong pour un’. But who cares. It’s a game where everything unecessary for fun has been stripped, leaving just that. Fun. And scanlines.
Puk – LaserDog
Puk is punchy and slick, and has a feel to it reminiscent of a futuristic hipster parlour game. Half shove-happeny, half bar billiards; the beauty here lies in the thick and fast level clearing and relief you get after lining up the precise angle of an integral shot with milliseconds to spare.
Super Splatform – P1XL
Bound your pixelly face across the bite sized levels in a few bounces as possible. Pixels you could cut a finger on, honed and toned controls and shedloads of fiendishly designed levels will have you going back again and again trying to gold target them all. Also worth noting, for some reason this is a remarkably pleasant game to play in the bath.