Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Bird Zapper! (iPad) - the heir apparent to Angry Birds

Bird Zapper! is the perfect example of what happens when a developer has simple concept, but a reasonable budget. As far as we're concerned, it's the new Angry Birds.

Bird Zapper takes the basic match 3 concept, but reworks it into a casual masterpiece. In the brief story setup, you play as a squirrel who has had his power cut by a bunch of obnoxious birds who have taken residence on nearby power lines.

Haha, this game is sadistic




Within that framework, you'll be tasked to swipe a finger over a minimum of three birds at a time within the play field to make them disappear. The game will start with three wires, but as the score goes up, the number of wires packed with birds will also increase.

If you can link up more than three birds, then you'll get a score multiplier. There's also chaining opportunities, but this basic idea is make more challenging because the birds are not stationary. The wires they're sitting on scrolls from the left to the right... and at different paces, too. The game quickly becomes frenetic, especially when the special items come in to play. There are eggs to tap to gain extra points, there are birds that, if you knock out, turns the game into a shooting gallery of sorts temporarily. There are items to freeze birds.

Everything comes together to build a game that is fast paced, but also skill-based. Doing well in this game is not a matter of random luck - practice does improve your awareness of everything happening around you, which will improve your scores.

Thanks to this trail, it's really easy to see what you're doing


There are three game modes - 'Survival,' which is a traditional 'get as many points before the time meter runs out' deal, 'Blitz,' which is 'get as many points ask you can in 60 seconds,' and 'Zen' which has no goal, and no timer... it's just an excuse to zap birds.

Those three game modes offer a fair bit of variety and replayability. The timed games are all about collecting high scores, and the Zen mode is a good way to chill. Game Center integration is handled well - besides the achievements there are leaderboards, and this is the kind of game where you'll feel like you want to have the top score on your friends list.

Getting really high scores requires the use of "batteries" to recharge the timer when it starts to wear down. Namco Bandai, the publishers, realised an opportunity there: the easiest way to earn batteries is to buy points using real money. No doubt it will earn them bucket loads.

With hugely addictive music, and stunning art direction, Bird Zapper! is a the perfect example of a casual game done well. It's a game you'll want to take with you on trains, play during meetings or dull lectures, and when you have better things to do. In short, it's going to ruin your life. It's only just out, and it's already 29th on the Apple App store "top charts", so at least you won't be alone there.



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