“Flappy Bird” proves that plagiarism should be punished

Flappy bird

This review is based off the iOS version played on an iPhone 4S with iOS7 installed.

What are all the young people up to this week? The ones who haven’t been killed in the neknomination pandemic are all playing a mobile game called Flappy Bird apparently.

Flappy Bird is an ad-congested mess of a game that is insanely addicting. It involves you tapping your phone’s screen to fly a bird through some green pipes. You get one point for each pipe you fly through. My record was 33 before I deleted it off my iPhone.

It’s simple enough to play and it’s free, so why should I complain? I’m complaining because it’s a sloppy game. The concept is not original. I can think of at least a dozen games like this such as Bit.Trip Runner, Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride that seem to have at least put a bit of effort into their games. Those games feature original music, sound effects, animations and fonts.

You were always told that plagiarism is wrong and you will be punished for it. The creator of Flappy Bird should have his pants sued off by Nintendo. If you are going to steal the design of a game, avoid stealing it from Super Mario World. Super Mario World being part of that Super Mario franchise, you know… the best-selling game franchise ever. The font in which the score is displayed is the iconic font of the Grand Theft Auto series. I cannot wait until the next Grand Theft Auto game finds a way to satirize this.

Kotaku made this comparison image between Mario World and Flappy Bird. Which is which?

Kotaku made this comparison image between Mario World and Flappy Bird. Which is which?

Green pipes are a staple of the Mario franchise. .GEARS Studios could have used anything else for their obstacles. Instead they use the very iconic Mario green pipes and modify the animation sprite of the Cheep Cheep fish enemy from Mario for their basic gameplay. They are using the familiarity to suck you in and use you for ad revenue.

Flappy Bird and the Mario games have a gameplay element called “hitboxes.” The hitbox is the point in your character’s animation that when it collides, you take damage. The green pipes have a widened lip throwing making the game far more challenging than it would be with an original animation. The derpy-looking Flappy Bird does not have the same hitbox as the Cheep Cheeps in Mario. Instead of being within the animation itself, it is outside of it. If the outside of the Flappy Bird hits the widened rim of the pipe you die. The whole game is based around this. When you lose, half the time it is the games fault, not yours. This artificial difficulty is more frustrating than rewarding.

The game is free, but it is full of ads. These ads love popping up at the top of your screen when you are in the middle of a game. In a reaction based game, these distractions will kill your flappy bird and your sanity. If you somehow ignore that, you won’t be able to ignore the game slowing down to load-up the ads.

The one thing that Flappy Bird does right is the simple score system. In today’s gaming world where a kill in Call of Duty nets you 100 points instead of 1, it is much easier to comprehend a similar scoring scale. Getting 10 points means you got through 10 pipes. This makes it easier to brag to your friends about how you wasted 14 hours of your life poking a fish-bird between two pipes.

This all doesn’t really matter anyway, the developer of the game says he’s going to take the game down tomorrow.


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