Developer: Madgarden
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There are oh so many Flappy Bird clones now that the game has been pulled from the App Store. Seriously, between those looking to make a quick buck and those paying homage through Flappy Jam and the like, there’s so many ways to flap, it’s insane.

Well, not insane enough yet, now that Madgarden has combined flapping with the master of insanity, the Deep One, the eldritch abomination to end all eldritch abominations, Cthulhu. This is FlapThulhu, and it’s the last flappy game anyone will ever need.

The goal is ostensibly the same as every other flappy game: control a flappy character, in this case the flappy-winged head of Cthulhu, and try to fly him through dangerous level layouts, where high scores are usually not that high. Where FlapThulhu differs is in its slow pace. Not slow and chilled out like Chillaxian. No, this is slow and foreboding like early Black Sabbath. Cthulhu flaps slowly forward, and barely fits through the clear passes, that one mis-timed flap is the end. It might be frustrating at first, but FlapThulhu demands and rewards thoughtful precision, and those who develop a rhythm among its slow pace.

Flapthulhu 2Flapthulhu 1What makes FlapThulhu stand out among the sea of flappy clones is in its production values: sparse but effective. The backgrounds set the mood with pulsing, slowly-shifting colors, and generated visual effects with occasional lightning. The music – a simple generated tone – adds a feeling of foreboding, and adds to the nervousness of a long run. Tentacles and eyeballs pop out among the landscape to weird players out. And of course there’s the FlapThulhu sprite, just flapping along with eyes that glow as time goes on. They’re all minor things – Flappy Bird sure didn’t charm anyone based on its production values – but they add a lot of charm to the experience.

Now, as an expert at Flapthulhu, I do have one concern that the game seems a lot easier on the iPad than the iPhone. The shorter clearance to get through means that pixel-precision on when to flap becomes necessary, and it’s easier with an iPad in one’s face than a phone. Also, the wings feel like they have a bit of a fudging area with the collision detection where the delineation between what is safe and what isn’t is not 100% clear. And there’s no ability to tweet out high scores, which I would love.

FlapThulhu may just be a take on the flappy genre, but it is by far the best one I’ve played yet. It gets that core gameplay right with a slightly-modified challenge, and everything that surrounds the game gives it a wonderful personality. Download this flappy game or be cast into madness!

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