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Hands-on with Swing Copters, the Flappy Bird creator's vertical (and very frustrating) new game

Andrew Hayward | Aug. 22, 2014
I've played hundreds of games of Swing Copters (free; iOS and Android) since it launched late last night. Hundreds. My high score is 2.

I ultimately found that playing with two thumbs anyway — and simulating the sensation that a left tap sent the copter to the left and a right tap the opposite — got me further than treating it like the one-hand game it attempts to be. But it's still so easy to get crisscrossed, and in most attempts, I didn't even pass the first opening. Two seconds and out. Game over.

Crash and burn

It's not the controls exclusively that make Swing Copters so wildly frustrating, but also the rapid swings in momentum that come with each tap. Every little touch suddenly shifts you in the opposite direction, and it starts immediately; there's no straight ascent even from the outset, and no chance to get your bearings. The settings are cramped, and simply nearing one of the hammers seems to trigger your demise, even if it doesn't seem like you visibly made contact. 

Everything happens so quickly, though, that it's hard to tell. And that's one of the main drawbacks here: there's no easing-in process, no breezy initial gates to whip through to build some confidence and get a feel for the physics and controls. It is just failure upon failure. And while there's novelty to playing the successor to Flappy Bird, it's not a long-lasting sensation.

Scads of clones proved that while Flappy Bird can be mechanically replicated with little trouble, it's impossible to capture lightning in a bottle again and generate the same kind of cultural phenomenon with an uninspired take.

Swing Copters will no doubt be downloaded in droves, considering its heritage, and some super-determined folks will post stunning scores and unbelievable videos. But without nuanced tweaks to make this vertical spin on the formula really feel like its own well-thought-out experience, I'd be shocked if it has anywhere near the same staying power with most players.


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