Cast your mind back to May 2013. Wherever you were, whatever you were doing, chances are that a certain mobile game called Flappy Bird entered your life at some point after its launch. Its insanely addictive nature and the ensuing mania ultimately resulted in its removal from mobile stores, but there’s no denying that its simple gameplay has influenced countless other tap-py titles in the time since. One of these is Fledgling Heroes, a game that takes the core concept of Flappy Bird and greatly expands on it to create an experience that youngsters in particular will absolutely love.
The game sees you take on the role of several feathered creatures, including Biscuit the parrot, Penny the penguin, and more. Each bird has its own method of traversal, so Biscuit, for example, is quite adept at flying, whereas Penny can shoot through water with ease. The levels themselves are tailored with this in mind; your chosen bird will automatically start moving through the environment from left to right, but you’ll need to tap 'A' to flap its wings in order to manoeuvre around objects and enemies. Initially, this felt like a complete copy of Flappy Bird, but after a while the game introduces more mechanics, such as boost points that fire you across the stage, and the ability to hold down 'A' to glide, giving you much more control over your altitude.
As well as coming across obstacles such as mines, sharks, jellyfish, and lizard pirates, you’ll also find golden feathers scattered throughout the stages. You’ll want to try and collect as many of these as you can, as they’re vital to unlocking levels further down the line. Each level also contains certain challenges which grant you with feathers upon completion, such as taking out a set amount of enemies, gliding for a minimum amount of time, and collecting coins. There’s a great deal of replay value here if you really want to find every collectible, and thankfully most of the levels are short enough that it never really feels like much of a chore.
In addition to the main game, you can also create your own levels and edit the look of your characters. The character editor is basic at best, and consists of simply filling in sections of their bodies with colour, but the level editor is much more robust. You can choose whether to create a basic level, an endless level, or a boss level, and adding assets can be done either with the touchscreen or the analogue stick. You can also, of course, browse a selection of levels created by other players, and much like Super Mario Maker 2, some of these are fiendishly difficult and make the main campaign look like a bit of a cakewalk.
With three main worlds to get through, Fledgling Heroes isn’t a very long game, but it is a lot of fun while it lasts. If you’re after a meatier experience, or even one that perhaps isn’t quite as cute as this, you might want to look elsewhere. For everyone else, Flappy Bird may well have struck gold when it was released 7 years ago, but Fledgling Heroes rises head and shoulders above it.