Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
How does one even review a game like Swing Copters? If it was a normal game it would be pretty easy, something like, “It’s simple and graphically unimpressive but the extreme challenge will keep masochists busy at least.” But this isn’t a normal game, it’s the follow-up to the infamous, massively popular Flappy Bird and marks the return of its beleaguered creator Dong Nguyen. And viewing the game through that context really does change everything.
This time, instead flapping a bird through pipes players guide some cute creature with a propeller on its head through a series of gates. However, with its similarly lo-fi pixelated art style, pastel colors, and blistering difficulty, it’s clear Swing Copters is still part of the Flappy family. At least the backgrounds now change.
Once again players use a single tap to control all the action. When their avatar begins ascending, it’ll start leaning hard towards one direction. To prevent a lethal crash, players tap the screen to cause it to change directions. However, that correction swing will be equally intense and will almost instantly require yet another change in direction. Where the player taps doesn’t actually matter, so it’s more about building a steady, alternating rhythm. But the harsh physics, like wonky momentum and brutal acceleration, and gates that slightly shift their position each round mean players can never truly become comfortable. The swinging hammer obstacles just add insult to constant injury. And when players do finally make it through a gate, they’ll be so caught up in the euphoria it will quickly, inevitably lead to ruin.
And that’s what makes Swing Copters such a great successor to Flappy Bird. When that game came out it was criticized for its bootleg aesthetic and punishing nature. But it soon became clear that those qualities are what people demanded. What this new one offers, along with smoother visuals, is a more actualized take on that same fundamental experience. The controls require even more technical finesse, there are more environmental hazards to be wary of, and the character’s movement is even stranger. There’s just a lot more going on. People with Flappy Bird high scores of 50 will still have a hard time surviving for the mere seconds required to earn a score of four or above.
But while this evolution might make Swing Copters a better, or at least a more mechanically interesting follow-up to Flappy Bird, it also limits its appeal to more hardcore gamers. Despite its challenge, Flappy Bird was immediately obvious and accessible enough to lure in the more casual players that initially made it a hit. Those same players will have a much harder time wrapping their heads around Swing Copters' comparatively deeper level of complexity. Unfortunately, it also poorly explains itself.
Swing Copters might very well be a game for no one, stuck in a wasteland between simple shallowness and cruel callousness. But for those who stick around, it offers even higher heights to soar to. You’ll just die a lot more often trying to get there.