148Apps Network Post
Developer: NAMCO Bandai
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

At first glance, Bird Zapper looks a bit like any other Bejeweled clone. However, Bird Zapper stands out with a more fluid, dynamic feel, great graphics, and an overall feeling of polish.

The story, however, is a little convoluted. Skippy the Squirrel, who lives in a power line pole, had his music player short-circuited. Somehow this is the fault of the birds perched on the power lines, so he sets out to knock them off—and it’s your duty to help him. All right, so it doesn’t make sense, but who needs a premise anyway?

Bird Zapper starts with three “power lines,” which are laid out horizontally across the screen. They really act like sliding rows of blocks, as each power line is stuffed with birds. Each bird is color-coded (owls are red, for example). To clear the birds, you have to swipe and draw a line between three or more birds of the same color without touching a non-matching bird. Those birds then disappear, and their corresponding power line slides forward.

Like any match-3 game, there are special effects: birds with hats trigger a “target practice” mini-event, bomb birds can be tapped to trigger an explosion, and you can tap falling eggs for extra points. However, these are just minor distractions from the main game. As you clear birds, the power lines zip forward with more in a never-ending stream. This gives Bird Zapper a fast-paced and fluid feel, which is a nice change from most match-3′s. Eventually, the three power lines expand to four, and then five, making survival an even greater challenge.

Bird Zapper has three modes: Survival, Blitz, and Zen. Survival mode pits you against an ever-depleted “power bar,” while Blitz tasks you with maximizing your points during a minute of play. Zen has no restrictions. Both Survival and Blitz are very energetic game modes, so Zen provides a nice counterpoint.

Graphics are very slick, and even on a second-generation iPod Touch everything runs fluidly. The sound effects are a little annoying, but bearable, and can be switched off. Additionally, Bird Zapper integrates with Game Center, so the competitively minded can enjoy leaderboards and achievements.

If there’s one problem I have with Bird Zapper, it’s that it isn’t that different from match-3′s like Bejeweled. The different game modes aren’t that original, and the core gameplay doesn’t require much strategy. Still, Bird Zapper manages to be fun in a way that many similar games aren’t, and I think that speaks to the attention to detail present here. Bird Zapper feels slick, and it’s truly fun to play—even if it isn’t the most original game in the App Store, Bird Zapper excels where it counts.

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