Flappy Bird or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bird

Flappy Bird
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Mobile gaming is a wonderful thing. While it once took a 10 tonne console to escape to another world, where one would typically find a selection of guns, aliens and Italian plumbers, we can now use conveniently portable devices to take us away from our troubles instead. Or allow green pipes to cause even more.

Flappy Bird was the latest avian title to land in our pockets and find surprisingly astronomical success, with a deceptively simple premise and mechanics. A single tap performs a single flap of the wings of a small bird that looks like Kirby with Jay-Z’s lips which, although officially nameless, I affectionately call Flapster.

But why did a game made by a Vietnamese indie developer in a few evenings after work that launched in May 2013 become the most popular mobile game of 2014? The answer lies deep within the struggles of our lives.

Mario uses his raw plumbing tekkers to open wormholes and transcend dimensions with green pipes, but Flappy Bird and its nameless protagonist present a whole new facade to these former allies. He’s not a trained worker. He’s a bird. Pipes are enemies, and serve solely to crush his hopes and dreams with a brutal splat. Should our friend succeed and pass beyond the blockade, life throws up yet another challenge before his eventual death.

Attaching no name or back story to the bird lets us project our own emotions and struggles onto its journey. Life, like Flappy Bird, is not fair. To stand any chance of reaching double figures and cross the obstacles in our paths, we must stay focused and tap carefully. Yes, we may fly face-first into a pipe now and then, but we won’t give up. We will keep tapping. Tapping towards freedom.

Now, as creator Dong Nguyen, with $50k a day in his pocket, withdraws the app from stores and himself from the limelight, lil’ Flapster flies off into the sunset (via a few green pipes, naturally). All we have left are fond memories of the winter of the bird, who taught us it was alright to fail, as long as we got straight back up to seek the bing, and the hours we lost in our quest for a high five.

First Xbox Live game for both Windows Phone and Windows 8 quietly released

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galactic_reign2When Windows Phone 8 was released way back in October last year, much was made of the relationship prospective Windows Phone 8 purchasers would have between their mobile and their PCs. Since then, nothing much to that side of things has materialised, but yesterday that all changed.

Galactic Reign was teased by Microsoft last October, but there was no mention of platforms, nor was there a release date, but yesterday the game quietly slipped into both the Windows 8 Store and the Windows Phone Store as an Xbox Live title. Microsoft used to always announce upcoming Windows Phone games well in advance, but they haven’t done so much of that recently, and it seems crazy that such a huge milestone for the OS was released with so little fanfare, but hey, at least it’s here now.

galactic_reign3As you might have guessed from its name, the game is a sci-fi strategy number. You have to find the right balance between spaceships and weapons and hope your fleet is good enough to beat your opponents, and we won’t go into too much detail here, but there’s a single player mode with 60 challenges and a multiplayer side of things where you battle people online. There a bunch of Xbox achievements to aim for as well.

It’s great to finally see a game which bridges the Windows Phone 8/ Windows 8 divide. With the multiplayer game, you can play with different hardware to your opponent, i.e. it doesn’t matter whether you use a PC, Windows Phone or Surface. Galactic reign will cost $4.99 for Windows 8 or for Windows Phone 7 and 8. The best bit of all? You only need to purchase one version to have access to it on both platforms.

Source: Windows Phone Central

Sony PlayStation 4 launch liveblog: Sony shows the controller and a bunch of games but no actual PlayStation

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Tonight is the night that we’ve all been waiting for since E3 2005. At an event in New York tonight, Sony is set to present ‘the future of PlayStation’ to an audience of the games press, and we all know what that means.

4.

Grab your bingo cards and join me as I furiously scribble down all the news and go into a PlayStation-induced trance on my keyboard from 11pm tonight, and prepare for the next generation of gaming.


Click here for our liveblog – live!

Nvidia unveils Tegra 4 chip and Project Shield handheld console at CES conference

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It’s the first day of CES proper today, and the news has started to flood in. Nvidia held an interesting press conference today to announce a few things. There’s no doubt that the most anticipated (and most important) announcement of the day was the Tegra 4 – Nvidia’s new flagship chip to ‘rule them all’. That is until Qualcomm and Samsung show off their work. The new chip packs 72 GPU CUDA cores, and is produced on a 28nm manufacturing process which is a step up from the 40nm of the Tegra 3. This means that even though the chip packs more power, it’ll take less of a hit on the battery life. It uses a new quad core, Cortex-A15 based architecture as well. One notable omission is the lack of integrated LTE – while it does ship with an external modem, that both takes a hit on battery life and reduces space inside of the phone. It’s interesting to see whether this impacts Tegra 4 adoption, as many phones which used a Tegra processor internationally had to use a Qualcomm processor in the US so as to keep LTE.

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The other thing that Nvidia announced was a new handheld gaming system called Project Shield. This came to me as a surprise, but its very very interesting. It features a 5″ 720p display, a Tegra 4 chip and an Xbox-esque controller portion. It is running stock android (i.e good) and has the ability to stream games from your Steam library from your computer to the device, where you can play them. It’ll be interesting to see whether this catches on or flops when it becomes available in Q2 2013