Article by Chris I.
Rewind back a few years and tell most anyone that indie games would be earning the same respect and attention as the biggest blockbusters, and they would most likely laugh in your face.
Yet, the unthinkable happened and titles like Braid, Limbo, and Bastion are well-known titles by almost anyone with an Internet connection. Indie games have always been a haven of sorts for the retro, creative and the experimental side of gaming that’s often times atypical of the mainstream games found on retail shelves.
Here at Digitally Downloaded, many of us are quite the fans of all things indie, and our Reviews Database is filled with reviews of hundreds of indie game reviews across numerous platforms, but with our new feature, Freeware Focus, we will highlight games that perhaps represent the indie spirit most of all: freeware video games which don’t usually qualify for the typical game review format. These kinds of games are popping up on all kinds of platforms, from PC to console to mobile, and they are very much a wild west of innovation and creative thinking… so here you’ll find the truly weird and wonderful experiences that only games can offer.
My short break from writing Freeware Focus articles has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t continued playing freeware titles on my time away, of course. So what have I been playing lately? One particular game that’s been locked to my iPhone for several months is Noodlecake Studios’ Flappy Golf. It’s a game that answers the (post Flappy Bird) age-old question that I’ve never actually had until just now thinking of it – what would happen if Flappy Bird possessed the golf ball in Super Stickman Golf 2? Now that there is a prime question, if I say so myself.
To find our answer, let’s rewind back to Feb. 10, 2014. Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, pulled his massively popular freeware mobile hit from its markets after a large wave of Internet attackers turned their sights towards him and his family. These attackers sought justification for their hatred by attempting to ground the argument in the game’s addictive nature; but, as we’ve only just recently seen once again with Gamer Gate, justification is never to be found through acts of hatred. Period. After the game was pulled from digital shelves, demand sky-rocketed and used phones with the freeware tittle installed started selling for unthinkable prices online. The indie community didn’t sit idly by, but bonded together under the rally cry of “FlappyJam”: create games that feature the essence of “Flappy Bird” and to, “…have fun, be supportive. Hate must not win.” The support was staggering, with 789 submissions for the digital jam. You can check them out yourself through the below link:
Noodlecake Studios might have been a bit late to join the party, but that’s of no matter. What it created in the spirit of Flappy Bird is beautiful, good fun for all ages. It comes as no surprise then that the insane difficulty found in Flappy Bird is not to be found here. This has the potential to irk purists, but I can all but guarantee any irritation be quickly forgotten. In Flappy Golf, Noodlecake Studios took its incredible Super Stickman Golf 2 game and stripped the titular stickman golfer out and replaced him/her/it with a golf ball that looks and behaves remarkably similar to Flappy Bird. It’s a simple gimmick that finds players ‘flapping’ the ball a short distance upwards to the right or left in accordance to which side of the screen is tapped. Still, it creates a unique dynamic to the game play that’s both casually fun and horribly addictive – I’ve been playing this for months on end now!
Keeping the traditional scoring system of the game of golf wouldn’t exactly fit this new game play concept though, so again a minor altercation was necessary. Each course features the standard three medal scoring system: bronze, silver and gold. Each medal sets a maximum parameter of ‘flaps’ allowed to sink the ball in the hole, with the gold medal allowing the least amount of flaps. The courses already featured all sorts of moving obstacles and hazards, so very little has been changed, yet they’re a near perfect fit to this new play style. Acquiring gold medals requires players to use all aspects of the courses to an advantage: bouncing off walls to change directions, using inclines to slow momentum or to cover large distances and conserve ‘flaps’, etc.. In later levels, even the bothersome sticky goo on walls can be strategically used to stop the ball from meeting an abrupt end by the way of rotating saw blades. It’s light-hearted, mildly challenging fun and that’s a great fit for quick gaming on the go.
It doesn’t end there though. Noodlecake Studios has went off and updated the game with local and online multiplayer, Flappy Eggs and ball customisations. In each course, there are now ten eggs scattered about the levels to be collected. These eggs are an in-game currency – no, there is not an option to purchase them with actual money – and can be used to change the skin of the ball as well as add a personal touch of flair to the ball’s trail. Playing online (or local) multiplayer brings another unique game play dynamic too, in that it’s a 2-4 player mad dash to be the first one in the cup. The player group races through all nine holes of a course, with the top players’ acquiring points and eggs for each hole. At the conclusion of the course, those with the most points are awarded the largest stash of eggs for their nest of customisations. Online matching is quick and easy and people are actively playing – that “just one more go” element of games like Rogue Legacy and SteamWorld Dig… yeah, that’s in full effect here.
It’s a beautiful thing to see the gaming community stand against attacks of hatred as what Flappy Bird’s creator experienced. Not only has Noodlecake Studios created something remarkably fun with Flappy Golf, but the underlying meaning of its existence finds it to be just that certain bit more special for it. It’s a game that stands for something worthy and it’s free to all who have an iOS device to play. The only financial transaction found in the game is a $0.99 ad removal option, which isn’t necessary, but (in my opinion) is there for those whom have the desire to support the developer. I did, and I hope that others will too. Now that you know about Flappy Golf – get to flappin’!
– Chris I.
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