Play with Birds (WiiWare)

Game Review

Play with Birds Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

Play with Turds

Last year, the revamped WiiWare version of the beloved indie game La Mulana was delayed upon its submission by publisher Nicalis, as it was deemed "not good enough” by Nintendo's quality control team. Nicalis must have sent Nintendo a dirty diaper with the words “La Mulana” scrawled crudely on the side instead of an actual game, because Play with Birds is definitive proof that anything can get on WiiWare as long as the game somewhat functions in a minor way; because frankly, there's absolutely no logical reason why this game should have ever seen the light of day. It simply isn't finished.

And yet, you might be tempted to download it just by the looks of it, because visually the game is actually somewhat impressive. The main character model is well-detailed, and the open world town you find yourself in is filled with brightly coloured and interestingly constructed buildings that actually wouldn't look out of place in Disney Epic Mickey. Of course the environment itself is stagnant and lifeless, but that's another story.

Graphics don't mean squat if you don't have the gameplay to back it up, though, and not only does Play With Birds not have the gameplay to back it up, but it manages to lower the WiiWare quality-bar in every other conceivable category.

Starting with sound... well, perhaps we should say the song, because that's the only “sound” you'll be hearing throughout your entire experience with the game (and it is, if nothing else, an experience.) There are no sound effects whatsoever: no pleasant “boing” when you jump, no “ka-ching” when you collect an item. Nothing. Except for one loud and inappropriately fast-paced big-band jazz travesty that blares endlessly in the background.

“Yes yes”, you say, “but what exactly is this game?”

Well it's rather hard to get a handle on what the game actually is, but we can at least attempt to explain what it's trying to be. Honestly though, it doesn't even seem like the developers were entirely sure what they were going for here. The premise revolves around growing up and trying to become famous, with elements of 3D platforming, but the reasoning behind the whole “fame” thing never comes together in a coherent way, causing the odd “fame” points you gather in the game to feel pointless and arbitrary.

Anyway, you gain these enigmatic fame points and stars — the purpose of which is also unclear — by playing a variety of minigames scattered throughout the overworld. The minigames are for the most part overlong, innocuous and with few exceptions, they don't control very well either.

When you're simply exploring the overworld the controls are even worse. Controlling a 3D game with the D-Pad rarely goes well, and this game is no different. You hold Up to walk forward, but you have to tilt the Wii Remote side to side to move left and right. The D-Pad's role disappears entirely, though, when you start flying (which you can do at any time by pressing 2) as you only use the motion controls while in the air.

Oh, but you can poop.

That's right folks, Play With Birds features the whole “bird” experience including, but not limited to, pooping on people's heads! Sure, the collision in this game is terrible so it rarely works the way it's supposed to outside of minigames (and they missed an obvious opportunity by assigning the button to 1 instead of 2) but still... pooping: Play With Birds has it.

And that's really Play with Birds in a nutshell: a shiny turd. A lot of half-decent ideas that, because of an extreme lack of effort, simply aren't fun. Exploring isn't fun because even though it's a colourful town, there aren't any collectables, the scary-looking NPCs don't acknowledge your existence (fame points don't help), and the controls make the entire act of exploring pretty cumbersome; the minigames aren't fun because they're uninspired, overly lengthy and, once again, don't control well. And on top of all that, there are enough technical problems like poor collision and glitched animations to make the whole thing practically impossible to enjoy.

It's almost poetic how bad the game is. What's supposed to be a family friendly 3D platformer with a cheerful open world setting actually comes across as a chaotic, paranoid nightmare. Horrible jazz music drowns out all other sound as your awkward protagonist stumbles clumsily through a freakishly perfect and empty city. Its inhabitants are like ghosts, oblivious to your existence, and you can walk right through them without their notice or concern. Chilling. Scratch that — horrifying. You have to pay for it.


When a game like Play With Birds is released on your download service, it means something is wrong. Aside from the colorful visuals, the game is so unpolished and in many ways unfinished that even if it were free we'd advise you to firmly ignore it. Instead it comes at 500 Wii Points. The truly sad thing is it's nothing new. Play With Birds isn't the first half-broken mess we've seen on the service and it won't be the last. It's simply yet another example of why Nintendo really needs to start cracking down on quality control on WiiWare, and even clearer evidence that they won't.

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User Comments (53)



dizzy_boy said:

good idea for them for quality control. get a bunch of kids between 5 and 8 to play the game, as i asume that`s the target audience.
kids, i find, can be brutaly honest about stuff at times, and nothing is worse than being told that your work sucks by a group of kids.



Kid_A said:


It was definitely a strongly worded review, but if you played the game I think you'll find that I really wasn't hyperbolizing

Not that I'm recommending you play the game...



Chris720 said:

Who is the quality control at Nintendo? 'Cos they need to be fired. They won't accept La Maluna, but they'll happily accept this? Wtf?



triforceofcourage said:

I find it sad that some little kids could download this and be turned away from gaming forever due to the extreme eipc fails contained within the game.
Although i'm not going to lie... Pooping on peoples heads could make for an entertaining mini game if pulled off right!



Detective_TeeJay said:

I wonder how video game companies react when they look online and see the internet plagued with horrible reviews of their game. Do they have meetings over it? Do people get fired? Or do they just shrug their shoulders and proceed to create another piece of crap?



Meta-Rift said:

"[...] it doesn't even seem like the developers were entirely sure what they were going for here."

Even the title doesn't fit. I read "Playing with Birds" on the front page and assumed it was a Pet Sim.

@7: Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Sometimes I think that by "quality control" they really mean "colorful screenshots that will attract kids". Or maybe they just look at the screenshots and try to guess what the actual game is like.

@Tj92: I'm guessing it depends on how many people actually buy the game. But when a game is this bad, I wonder if the developers even tested it themselves.



MeloMan said:

I think playing with turds might actually be more fun... Mr. Hankie would weep at this game.



Philip_J_Reed said:

hahaha! I dodge a bullet on a godawful piece of junk like this...and you wonderful folks want me to buy it anyway.

But yeah, I totally would. haha. The problem is that my Wii is currently in a cardboard box in Denver, and I'm still about three weeks away from joining it there.



TikiTong said:

Since games like Ninjabread Man and a whole lotta garbage get released because of our beloved "quality assurance team".Thank goodness they cut that garbage La-Mulana to release this gem!!!(sarcasm)
Tilting to walk seems like they racked it one to say"we have motion control



KaiserGX said:

NOOO! Damn you fish why do you succeed when the superior Aviens get a turdy game! We need CHOCOBO then we shal prevail! PEEP PEEP PIYO!



Kaeobais said:

Something to do with the birds and the bees, perhaps? But that's REALLY stretching for some innuendo :/



nicknintendo68 said:

well its still a horrible title for a game regardless but ya i never seen a one star on something in a while(is this the first one star)



SwerdMurd said:

Yikes. That could be the single most brutal anything-Ware review I've ever read....

And what's worse--it doesn't seem hyperbolic. The game just sounds like an absolute travesty.

Just some advice--play the original version of La Mulana. Then tell me you want that steaming vomit-roll unleashed on the general public, any amount of graphical upgrade withstanding. I think people assume because the developer also barely touched Cave Story that it plays similarly...it doesn't. It's a screen-by-screen, slow attacking mess of an obtuse game that, even in the MSX days it tries so faithfully to replicate, would've been avoided like the plague it is.

La Mulana sucks.



Kid_A said:

Just so y'all know, this is NOT the only 1 we've ever given out. Ask Chicken, he'll tell ya



StarDust4Ever said:

Any videos of the pooping animations? That would probably be the only reason why curiosity would make someone download it.




BulbasaurusRex said:

It's like Games Farm got together and decided there was an easy way to scam Wii owners: "We'll make a WiiWare game with graphics as attractive as possible to casual gamers and purposely put the absolute minimum effort and money into the rest of the game, and we'll make a good profit at the expense of the suckers who we trick into buying our.game."



Omega said:

Play with birds seems not to be the best game in the world. But I think La-Mulana is also crap, either recycled or basic. I don't want both of them. Nintendo Quality Control at least prevented one horrible game from being released.



TikiTong said:

@36 Actually La-Mulana was building up very well,but i dont know why it was delayed



azz1844 said:

Nintendo have consistently shown they don't care about their online services at all. They have put so little effort into anything. Online gaming is half-and lacks many basic features that are standard for XBOX360 and PS3 games, WiiWare games are mostly crud (compared to a lot of awesome XBOX Live Arcade games), and re-releases of games on Virtual Console are incredibly lackluster (some missing features that even the originals had, compared with XBOX Live Arcade HD remakes which tend to have improved graphics, features, and added online).
It's a shame that a company like Nintendo, who can make such quality game franchises, should put such a poor effort into these features. It makes me wish for the first time ever that Nintendo would give up on hardware and just work on games and peripherals.



WiiLovePeace said:

Hahahaha this review was too funny! See? This is why nintendo allow really bad games on WiiWare & hold back the good ones, so they can see these reviews & have a laugh Hahaha, nice sub heading too!



Vertigo said:

It's actually telling how empty Nintendo's release schedule is at the moment that the poor guys at Nintendolife have to even bother reviewing like this. I feel sorry for you all. You're getting paid (presumably), but that isn't the point. Having to play a bad game is misery in itself, but one that looks as terrible as this, especially given the La Mulana situation, really is diabolical. Tagline made me do a LOL, which is more than can be said for the game.



theblackdragon said:

@Vertigo: Actually, our reviewers (as well as the rest of our staff) are all unpaid volunteers. Any revenue from ads goes straight into the costs of site hosting. :3



Kid_A said:

Sweet lord above--this game is SELLING?
Sigh...I had a feeling it might. The screenshots on the Shop Channel are pretty enticing; even I for a moment was mislead into thinking that this game might not be completely terrible.

I'll bet Planet Fish, a fresh and well-designed WiiWare game that I really enjoyed, sold like garbage. Typical.



NovemberJoy said:

I didn't think that a game based off of a Nicalis game could be a 2/10, much less a 1/10. This shows two things:Nicalis(or whoever developed this) is lazy/getting lazy, and like some others have said, the Quality Assurance team doesn't deserve their positions, letting stuff like 5 Arcade Gems abd this get by, and rejecting La Mulana.
Note:I've never played or researched La Mulana, so my facts may be wrong.



NovemberJoy said:

OK, that's good. I have not lost faith in Nicalis.
Though I'm not really a fan of Cave Story...

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