The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Hundreds of flappy phoenixes

I’ve had headaches on and off for the past week, no doubt linked to the mad cycle of procrastination, crunch and sleep deprivation that so many college students who have no idea how to manage a workload fall into. Today’s feels more a direct repercussion of spending the last few hours cycling through masochistic game entries in the Flappy Jam.
Game jams are, in a word, themed exercises in speedy game-making. Anyone capable of making a game can participate, resulting in a sometimes rough, sometimes genius, but always diverse collection of games.
The Flappy Jam was born out of the ashes of “Flappy Bird” being pulled by its creator Dong Nguyen – an act of support by indie developers who felt sickened by the bullying and threats he received (ostensibly his reason for taking the game down). At the time of this writing, there are 799 games collected at the jam’s hub (tch.io/jam/flappyjam).
Many of these entries are simply reskinned, approximated versions of the hellish original smartphone game in which you navigate a bird through a series of pipes, the physics overly-sensitive and any mistake sending it divebombing to the ground. Oftentimes these submissions are chockablock with the most inside internet humor imaginable: a flying fedora traversing through Mountain Dew cans instead of pipes, with “friendzoned” echoing upon collision.
Some are surprisingly deep. Terry Cavanagh (whose “Don’t Look Back” and “Naya’s Quest” I’ve covered before) created “Maverick Bird” – an even more brutal, hellish game than “Flappy Bird.” The graphical presentation is downsized to his signature representational pixel art – the bird but a small square; background colors shift, and electronic music blares. In addition to pipes, Cavanagh adds winding tunnels, descending lines of spikes, etc.
“Flappitalism,” a game by Slouch Couch, has a similarly chaotic pixel aesthetic. Players scroll vertically, and instead of navigating obstacles, they hop from ladder to ladder, always in danger of falling. Its a thin metaphor for capitalism, but one that feels appropriate considering the story of “Flappy Bird” and the backlash at its monetary success.
The Flappy Jam also features countless entries that amount to mixing an arbitrary game with “Flappy Bird” and seeing what comes out: “Tetris,” Cavanagh’s own “VVVVVV,” “Final Fantasy VII.”
Perhaps the most bizarre entry I played came out of this: “Flappy’s Souls.” It has nothing to do with “Flappy Bird” or “Demon’s Souls,” and the creator Calle Leppäjoki writes that the game is inspired by old computer role-playing games. The player navigates through a first-person, black-and-white maze, occasionally running into a skeleton they have to fight, occasionally finding a hooded figure. One, St. Benedict the Wise, asks: “Is there more than true or false? What would that be? Divine?”
I haven’t found divinity during my journey into the archives of the Flappy Jam, but maybe something close – madness.

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Hundreds of flappy phoenixes