I can’t stop playing Maverick Bird.
In a week where Flappy Bird has gone from mobile superstar (or super villain, depending on what you read) to deleted eBay phone bait, much has been said about the game’s almost impossible core mechanic and…familiar…art style. However, amid the furore, there was a huge set of players who became totally addicted with the risk/death/restart circle.
Terry Cavanagh – the creator of VVVVVV, Super Hexagon and Don’t Look Back – tweeted this week that he was going to knock something together for Flappy Jam, the latest in a line of jokey game creation challenges the indie game community occasionally sets itself. Terry’s games are renowned for their difficulty and addictive qualities, so it was a good fit, but all that was seemingly expected from the Jam was a few cheeky reference games.
And then he published Maverick Bird and my evening disappeared.
He’s taken the core design – tap to flap, manoeuvre through the oncoming gaps – and added a few distinct elements. The first is to take the Super Hexagon-style bars and vibrate them to his chosen track (the fantastic Vietnam by Kozilek, so that the beats and the graphics are completely interwoven. The second is the addition of a Dive button. This actually adds a whole new layer of gameplay, with some sections needing a slow ascent before a nosedive under a spike. This extra element makes the game feel more elegant and refined, prompting an instant restart without hesitation every time you meet your doom. And like Super Hexagon, it’s a game to be learnt, each mistake you make teaching you something about its world until your score starts to gradually creep up. Beat your score and everything turns silver in congratulations, even as your imminent death approaches. It’s thrilling, unbelievably addictive stuff.
It all goes to show that there was actually a great idea nestled in Flappy Birds, deep down, beneath the generic sprite and Mario pipes. And once again, Terry Cavanagh shows why he’s one of the most exciting indie devs working at the moment.
My best is 13. Good luck.
Maverick Bird, free Flash browser game.