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March 6, 2015

Play With Birds

Can I go back to playing the Raving Rabbids' games, please? Why is it that I'm so unlucky with WiiWare games? Why do all the games that look fun end up sucking? Urgh...

Play With Birds was released by Games Farm on April 11th, 2011. On the Wii Shop Channel, it costs 500 points (5 dollars). And had I known what was awaiting, I probably would have skipped. I guess that's the problem with WiiWare: There's no guarantee that you'll get something worth your money, and since you're probably not gonna look at a WiiWare game's reviews before buying it, you'll frequently end up playing some pretty bad stuff. Pop-Up Pursuit looked fun. It was horrendous. This one looked fun. Instead, it's creepy, unfinished and just plain annoying.

So, what's the idea? You are a little bird. In the game, your character first hatches from an egg, and then you have to fly around, play minigames, poop wherever you want (Yep, there's a poop button in this), collect Fame Points (the purpose of which is never explained in-game...), find a mate and make chicks. The cycle of life, in a nutshell.

But everything in this game is done so poorly that you pretty much can't enjoy it, no matter how much you try. In fact, I'm starting to doubt Nintendo even applies some form of quality control over the games distributed on the WiiWare... oh, and probably over the Wii games, too. This is leaving me kind of disillusioned. Do the higher-ups at Nintendo care about the image of their console? There's a lot less crap being put out on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles than there is for the Wii. That's a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless. Hell, there's also a lot of shovelware being put out for Nintendo's handheld consoles.

Hell, apparently this game was considered of “good enough quality” for the WiiWare section, but re-releases of games like La-Mulana weren't. And from the looks of it, everyone keeps on praising La-Mulana! So I seriously don't get it.

Sigh... let's get into the game, shall we? Figuratively, I mean, because literally it's impossible, and Thank God it is.

If you think that's bad, just wait, it gets worse.
The game starts with an egg-hatching minigame, and you see the birth of the birdie you'll control. You control this game with the Wii remote held horizontally. When your own personal Tweety is walking around, you control it using the Directional pad on the Wii remote... or rather, you have to press Up for your bird to walk forward, but you have to tilt the Wii remote left or right to make it go one way or another. And once your bird takes flight? Well, at that point it's all controlled entirely by twisting the Wiimote. While it's pretty simple, it's also rather impractical. You have to explore the great, big world around you and look for minigames (those are columns of blue light ascending to the skies, you can't miss them). From where you start off, there are 4 minigames based on Pac-Man, and one where you have to prevent chicks from falling off a nest. Sounds great so far? Eh, not really. For starters, the cats in the Pac-Man mazes are wily, and the mazes are often built in ways that you almost cannot avoid the goddamn cats.


As for how the game looks, well... One could say it's cute. The CGI is basic, with graphics that makes us feel like we're playing a Nintendo 64 game. But then you go into the city and see just how large the place is. That's kinda neat... I guess. Aside from that? Yeah, the cartoony style might be kinda fun to look at, but it's nothing worthy of an award. It's somewhere between "minimalist" and plain old "lazy". Like you can't tell whether it's an artistic choice or the makers gave a damn in the first place.

Other minigames include the usual stuff, like racing. Then there are the odd ones, like helping a policeman stop a thief... by pooping on the thief. For trying that minigame, I can tell you, it shows many of the problems in this game. First off, you can't control your bird's speed. Second, like everything else, the humans aren't very much detailed, and they move in ridiculous ways, less like humans, more like puppets. Third, the collision detectors don't work much. For those who don't know, if there are, collisions have to be programmed in video game, for obvious reasons, and the purpose is mostly to determine what happens when one element of the game will hit another, and how both elements will collide. If a collision is registered even if there is no collision to speak of, that's a problem. If no collision is registered even if your character clearly rammed into a wall, that's another problem. Well, that collision thing really sucks in Play With Birds. In the pooping-on-a-thief minigame, sometimes the bird poop won't even touch the thief and yet he'll act like he got hit. And yet, while you're flying around the city, you'll often get a chance to poop on a human, but that doesn't mean the human will notice...

Oh, and the racing minigames sucks in so many ways that I don't know if I can even say even one good thing about it. First off, you still control the flying birdie with the Wii remote, but you can activate a jetpack (WTF???) on the bird's back (Re-WTF???) that will give your bird a speed boost. You race against 6 other birds, and the idea is that you must fly through multiple floating rings that appear one at a time. You fly up to them, go through them, and then look for the next one. And howdy dowdy are you lucky, too! There's a red line showing you where the next one is! Sadly, the flying mechanic sucks, the jetpack will usually send you way too far from the ring, your bird takes forever to turn around, and when you reach the ring, you've lost many precious seconds. That's not even talking about the houses that get in the way, or the fact that ONE RING IS LOCATED SO HIGH UP THAT YOUR BIRD CAN BARELY REACH IT, SINCE IT'S LOCATED AT THE MAXIMUM HEIGHT YOUR BIRD CAN GO! AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGHHHH!

Landing on wires serves pretty much no purpose, since the
other birds actively avoid you until you got enough Fame
By the way, the game fucking crashed on me while I was playing. Oh yeah, I was playing the racing minigame, I was getting close to the end, I was in last place (because the damn flying mechanic wasn't working right), I head to the final ring, and all of a sudden everything stops working, and a sound comes out from the Wii. I had to unplug and re-plug. I don't know if that was caused by the game or if it's an internal error caused by something, but since it's the first time it ever happens, I seriously think it's Play With Birds that did this. As if I needed even more reasons to hate on this game! I can bash Anubis II all I want, it didn't make my goddamn console crash!

I've already talked about the graphics, now... the music. Aw, man. It's only one song all the way through. You walk around this little world, you fly across the neighborhood, you play a minigame... Nope, the music never changes. It never stops, it never shuts up, it's always the same damn thing. It might be kinda fun to hear the first few minutes, but after that, you want to pop your eardrums with stakes. MY EARS! THE HEADPHONES, THEY DO NOTHING! THE HEADPHONES DO NOTHING!

So, I take a look at what Games Farm has done... and I see that Play With Birds was their first game. Huh. That explains some of it, but then again, they later went on to work on a series called Air Conflicts, and also released a game called Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms. No idea what any of those have to do with Play With Birds (PWB is their only Wii game, too), so I'm gonna throw in my theory and say that Play With Birds was also their first time trying to do something with the Wii and its peculiar controls. And they probably failed due to inexperience, not because they wanted to fail. Then again, the industry and atmosphere around video games has gotten so dark and depressing that I wouldn't be surprised if they did it for a quick buck.

Because everything is done for a quick buck these days! Not just shovelwares! How about the casual games, I hate to call them that, but you know which ones I'm talking about, the ones on Facebook or mobile that are free to play but you might spend a lot of money because you're stuck somewhere? What about these games that are released while they're still freaking betas, and gamers basically play to test the games for the cheap companies who don't want to pay for testers, and then the game itself never gets an actual, updated “Alpha” release with all the glitches ironed out? What about those unlockable characters you only get through buying little toys on pedestals, like the Skylanders or Disney Infinity?

Not like us gamers are any better. I prefer not to talk about last year's GamerGate, because it's still going on, and it still sickens me to see so much hate, regardless of the side in this useless debate. I just want to stop hearing about it, because I'm fed up. It makes me nauseous when I hear about SWATting, because it's something illegal, and those who “swat” online game streamers deserve prison. YEARS in prison. I hate when I hear about hardcore gamers hating on casual gamers, just because they're not as much into video games as hardcore gamers are. I dream of a world where gamers respect women and each other, where they aren't doxxing people they disagree with, where they don't call the police and make false claims about a person just for kicks, where there is no way between hardcores and casuals... But... I'm afraid that's too much to ask... so many things wrong with gaming these days... I try to stay blissfully unaware, but the hard truth just keeps punching me in the face... and... and... It's just... I feel the cynicism growing, my idealism is withering... I'm...

Wait, I thought I was talking about Play With Birds... I really went on a tangent there... Is it me, or it's happening more and more often? Ah, whatever. What else can I say? When you complete a minigame, you get Fame Points. Sometimes, you even get them just by playing the minigame, which is kinda neat. I guess. So, I suppose once you've gained enough Fame Points, you can go look for a female bird, and thus starts the mating ritual of all grotesquely-designed, cartoon-shaped, creepy-looking avian around the block. Your bird and the female? They lived happily ever after and had too many chicks. So many, in fact, that we'd need ten minutes to name them all.

Final thoughts? I need to drink. Right now.

Oh, about the game? It's shit. Yeah, it's absolutely terrible. Bad controls, only one song (seriously, that's cheap), a lack of creativity in the minigames... and it's not long enough, either. I paid five bucks for a game that doesn't take me hours to complete, a game that crashed my Wii, a game that enrages me. A game that appeared fun. A lie coated in chocolate and cute pictures. I wasted five dollars on this, but it could have been worse; it could have been eight dollars. It could have been ten dollars, or fifteen... But even if it did cost me only five bucks, it's still five bucks I'll never see again, even if I delete Play With Birds from my SD card.

While not an outright unpleasant experience (the likes of, say, Anubis II – yes, I'm bringing that one up yet again), I can't do anything else but point out the flaws in this one. They're just omnipresent. And yet again, I can't tell if this one sucks because it's Games Farm's first game, or just because they didn't want to put any effort into it and released it quickly, to get cash in the bank. Either way, I sincerely suggest you don't buy it. I don't even want to hear about this game ever again. I don't want to remember this one. FUCK YOU, PLAY WITH BIRDS. I don't go as far as to insult the people at Games Farm, but the game itself? It's fair game. No pun intended. As long as I'm not insulting real people who might not deserve it, it's fine. And the only reason I'm not insulting the team at Games Farm is because I can't tell whether such a bad game was done voluntarily or not.

Urgh. I need to go to a happy place. A place without gamers, but a place about video games... Yeah, alright, there's my own house, where I am the only gamer... but... I was thinking about something else... Since I really need to see something good right now, I think I'm gonna re-watch Wreck-It Ralph. Unless... unless I review it next week? Hm... That would be pretty awesome. Tune in next Friday for another VGFlicks: Wreck-It Ralph! And now I'm going back to my drink.