3DS Download Software has been a bit of a mixed bag so far, with titles ranging from the glorious to the utterly forgettable. Similarly, developer Teyon has been responsible for both memorable, addictive fun and fuelling our screaming nightmares. For those reasons, we weren't sure what to expect of Bird Mania 3D. But now that it's landed, we can safely say that we like what we see.
The story — which is explained through a few static slides and is viewed from the main menu — concerns Mojo, a little bird who fell asleep and missed his chance to fly south with the rest of the birds. Mojo decides to set off on his own and... that's it. The simplicity of the story is a perfect fit for the accessible, uncomplicated gameplay, and Bird Mania 3D uses it as a quickly forgotten springboard to a truly addictive score attack experience.
We'll tell you right now that little Mojo is doomed never to make it to his destination in Africa, because Bird Mania 3D consists of a single endless stage. Your goal is to score as many points as you can or, alternatively, to travel as far as possible. Or, if you like, to kill as many enemies along the way as you can. Bird Mania 3D tracks all of these things and more separately, so you can use anything you like as your benchmark for success.
The game is controlled pretty much any way you like it, which makes for some pretty comfortable gaming. Mojo flies forward automatically and all you need to do is move him up and down, which you can do with either the stylus, the D-Pad, the Circle Pad or the face buttons (the last option making things easy for lefties). Mojo can also dash forward by pressing either L or R, and that about does it for controls. We found the stylus to be by far the most responsive way to play, but it's nice to have such versatile options.
You guide Mojo up and down, avoiding obstacles, attacking enemies and collecting stars. It's a simple setup, but Teyon broadens the experience admirably by introducing score multipliers, bonus balloons, a generous assortment of achievements, weather conditions, a day / night cycle and bonuses for collecting enough stars in a row without missing anything, and that's just for starters. Bird Mania 3D is a game anybody can pick up and play, but it's also an extremely pliable gaming experience, allowing experienced players to compound their points in any of several ways, with plenty of room for an evolving strategy that plays to an individual player's strengths.
It may sound overwhelming, but it's not. The experience is smooth and fluid, and death — though easily found — just leaves you with a strong compulsion to try again. It's brilliantly addictive, and immensely satisfying when you top your high score.
The presentation is simple, but very effective. The graphics are flat and cartoony, and the 3D effect adds a nice layer of depth, though it certainly isn't mandatory. Only one song plays through the game, but it's upbeat and has appropriate momentum, keeping it from ever wearing out its welcome. On the whole, the presentation is designed to showcase the game's greatest feature: its unrelentingly addictive gameplay. And it does that very well.
In terms of criticisms, there aren't many. At first it's quite easy to collide with a tree, which kills you, as it's too similar in colour to the ground, which has no effect on you at all, but it doesn't take long to get used to that. Also, we would have liked multiple save slots to make it easier for players to compare scores on the same unit, but that's a pretty minor gripe at best.
On the whole, this is an impressively solid experience that does exactly what it sets out to do: ensnare gamers, give them a satisfying experience, and keep them coming back endlessly. This it accomplishes without question. The bargain-bin price point doesn't hurt either. This is one bird that knows how to fly.
Bird Mania 3D is the most pleasant kind of surprise: simple, fun, addictive and inexpensive. Charmingly simple yet rewardingly versatile gameplay overcomes any concerns we might have had. For a fast and fun score attack game, you really can't do any better.