Flappy Jam: indies flock to pay tribute to Dong Nguyen’s Flappy Bird
Of course there’s a gamejam. It’s becoming almost routine to find them springing up out of the videogame controversy of the day, and following on from the King-inspired Candy Jam comes Flappy Jam, a tribute to Dong Nguyen’s controversial and now sadly deleted mobile game.
The rules, according to the Jam’s official site, are as follows: “Make a hard, almost unplayable game; use assets inspired (not ripped) from classics; Flappy word or gameplay not mandatory; have fun, be supportive. Hate must not win.”
It’s a charming show of support for Flappy Bird’s creator, and it has produced entries from high profile developers like Super Hexagon creator Terry Cavanagh and Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman, who each pitched in with interpretations of Dong Nguyen’s game that mix its mechanics with the look and feel of their own creations.
Cavanagh’s Maverick Bird takes Super Hexagon’s relentless parade of throbbing neon polygons and turns it on its side, and unlike Flappy Bird, its obstacles are different with each turn. There’s also ‘Dive’ key should you need to dip downwards quicker, but most will find sticking to the ‘flap’ command quite enough. Saltsman’s Flappybalt is rather different; it’s not a side scroller, but it does retain that tap-to-fly mechanic as you bounce between the walls on the field of play, avoiding the sets of spikes on each side which move with each point scored.
Hahana Kingdom, an excellent example of a Flappy Bird tribute done right.
Some Flappy Jam creations are surprisingly polished; 7Soul’s Hahana Kingdom takes Flappy Bird and gives it a slick alternate-universe Yoshi’s Island aesthetic. Deviever’s Lillian Gish and the Pipes of Reason features that familiar flapping mechanic, sidescrolling and steep difficulty, but removes instadeath when you touch its pixellated pipes. What it adds to the formula is yet a toe-tapping chiptune soundtrack (BitShifter’s Reformat The Planet), an unwieldy point-and-click attack which slices through those nefarious pipes and a flow of pink gunge between each opening whose flow forces the titular hero downwards. Bitslap’s Ninjaflop is another compelling highlight, your assassin flapping to avoid the oncoming Shuiriken while slicing through a stream of unfortunate enemy ninjas as frenetic French chiptune pulses away in the background.
Of the entries which mix Flappy Bird with other retro or Nintendo properties, Luke Dirago’s Mega Flap! is among the best, turning Capcom’s Mega Man into an infinite flapper, complete with an exuberant NES-era soundtrack. Kid Dickarus is a game with a cheerily puerile moniker, a tribute to Nintendo’s Kid Icarus which replaces Flappy Bird’s pipes with Super Mario Bros. 3’s marauding desert-stage sun.
Of the more lawyer-bothering entries, Vaidap’s Flappychu! stars a crudely-drawn approximation of Pikachu and asks him (it?) to avoid a never-ending stream of Pokéballs; Shooty Flappy Flappy Ducky Duck lifts Duck Hunt assets wholesale and turns the lightgun shooter into a Flappy game in which the obstacles aren’t pipes, but the shots of an offscreen player wielding the NES Zapper. Flapplevania, meanwhile, not only provides a delightfully awkward portmanteau but also places Castlevania hero Simon Belmont in what looks like an escape from a grey underwater dungeon.
Elsewhere, there’s the inevitably-named Flappy Saga, another Flappy game constructed entirely from memes, and best of all there’s Hit Space to Flap, which provides the jam with a fittingly mischievous punchline. It’s not closed yet, though: the deadline for entries is February 24, and you can browse all of the entries so far here.