Line Birds Attempts to Follow the Flock
Immediately following any success is the attempt to recreate it and the Angry Birds phenomenon has certainly prompted more than a few attempts. Bird-themed games are quickly becoming a dime a dozen in the App Store, and the recent price drop of Line Birds (from the same developer as Line Surfer) has prompted some attention. A simple rendition of a side-scrolling game with line obstacles, Line Birds is fashioned with the addictiveness of repetitive gameplay and based, of course, on a bird theme. However, birds of a feather don’t necessarily flock together – at least not when it comes to successful game design.
Line Birds involves flying a bird by ascending and descending at the right times to avoid the random lines. One-touch controls are simple to grasp, but coordination is difficult to master. Players can unlock five different birds and purchase a sixth bird, each of which can earn special abilities by eating enough birdseed along the way. Unlocking additional birds is accomplished through specific achievements, such as flying a certain distance. Scoring is based on distance and enabled with OpenFeint, Line Birds tracks both local and global leader boards.
While it’s pretty obvious what was behind the inspiration for Line Birds, originality is absent from many other facets besides the theme. Line Birds may be designed to be addictive, but it dances around the edges of sheer frustration for players who are too busy or lack the desire to learn to perfect the timing and controls for each bird. The frustration stems from a combination of timing and responsiveness, both of which are so unpredictable that it would take hours to master.
The difficulty levels are pointless, as most casual gamers will find “easy” a hefty enough challenge. Rather than being forgiving by permitting a health meter, birds instantly die with every line collision. It most certainly takes time and effort to get the feel of Line Birds to the point of flying more than just a few hundred feet.
Line Birds has some addictive qualities for the purely stubborn player, but casual gamers looking for that perfect new title may be disappointed. Though there are elements of Line Birds that demonstrate real effort and skill from the development end, it simply failed to come together in a cohesive game. Achievements are difficult to attain because the game is difficult to master and the achievements are required to unlock new birds. In the end, it seems Line Birds is only suitable for the persistent player bent on mastering the next-to-impossible.