February 11, 2014, 12:27 PM — Flappy Bird has flapped its way into its final obstacle.
The simple side-scrolling game, in which you guide a bird through a series of pipes by tapping your screen, is no longer available from either the App Store or Google Play, after developer Dong Nguyen made good on his weekend threat to eighty-six the popular game. The game disappeared from app stores Sunday, as if a millions of flapping birds suddenly cried out in terror and were silenced.
And you know what? Good riddance, we say.
Look, we get that some people found the game addictive, and that one person's maddening time sink is another's delightful diversion. But will we be sad to see the Flappy Bird-related tweets disappear from our Twitter timeline? Will we miss puzzling over how the game inexplicably rose up the download charts? Will we have that pang of regret that friends and family will no longer gas on at length about how difficult Flappy Birds was to play? The answers are no, no, and good God, no.
But why stop separating the wheat from the chaff with just Flappy Bird? So long as apps are being culled by their creators, we can think of a handful of other offerings that we'd like to see follow Flappy Bird's flight into oblivion. And unlike Flappy Bird, where it's not exactly clear just why the developer pulled the plug, we can give you a reason why we'd like these apps to go the way of the dodo, flapping or not.
PC gamers speak in reverent tones of Dungeon Keeper, the strategy-heavy game that made its debut way back in 1997. The tones become decidedly less reverent for this mobile reboot, available on both Android and iOS. Much of the strategy that characterized the original has been supplanted by persistent, hard-to-ignore demands for your dollars in the form of in-app purchases. Certainly, developers should have a chance to make a buck like the rest of us, but there's a fine line between earning a comfortable living and nickel-and-diming customers for as much as the market will bear. Dungeon Keeper finds itself on the wrong side of that line a little too often for our tastes.
We'd cut Electronic Arts a little more slack if the app maker wasn't trying to game its ratings, at least for Android users. According to Pocket Gamer, the rating solicitation that pops up on Android versions of the game gives Dungeon Keeper users the option of either posting a five-star rating to Google Play or selecting a lesser rating of 1-to-4 stars. Choose that latter option, and you're taken to a feedback form for EA--and your low rating never sees the light of day. It's a fairly transparent attempt to boost the number of five-star reviews and the number of downloads that inevitably accompany a highly rated game... even if those ratings came about under dubious circumstances.--Philip Michaels
Candy Crush Saga
Once upon a time there was a Bejeweled clone that seemed difficult, but was actually purposefully broken in many ways so people would pay for the privilege to make it easier. Then the creators of Candy Crush Saga (Android and iOS) got a bit big for their candy-coated britches, filing trademarks on the words Candy and Saga and going on the warpath against other smaller development studios that dared to use either super-commonplace word--including Stoic Games, creator of The Banner Saga.
Ask any dentist: Too much candy will rot your teeth. And the heavy-handedness of Candy Crush Saga is making my teeth ache.--Hayden Dingman
No, I'm not calling out Paper By FiftyThree, the iPad sketching app. And I have no beef with Paper, Facebook's newly released iPhone app that combines the social network's News Feed with a newsreader. No, my problem is with Paper, the result that turns up in App Store searches whenever I look for the other two apps.
Paper is from Contradictory, a company that seems to specialize in generically named apps (Camera, Battery, and Draw are among its other contributions to the iOS universe), and whose lone selling point seems to be their ability to appear at the top of search results, tricking non-savvy App Store shoppers into downloading these apps by mistake. I'm not too proud to admit I'm one of those people. I went looking for Paper--the drawing app from FiftyThree, not the Facebook one--and wound up with this lame copycat instead.
Surely, now that Contradictory's Paper is messing up search results for not one but two much better apps, maybe Apple could step in and do a solid for easily confused app lovers.--Susie Ochs
Fly Birdie: Flappy Bird Flyer
Maybe you're more glum about Flappy Bird's unexpected departure than we are. Don't fret--you'll always have the Flappy Bird knockoffs.
As I type this, the top free app for both iPhones and iPads in the App Store is Fly Birdie: Flappy Bird Flyer. Any differences between this game and Flappy Bird will have to be settled by years of scholarly research, but developer TapTomic isn't making much of an effort to clear up any confusion about which game is which.
Actually, I suppose there is one difference: Fly Birdie is worse than Flappy Bird in every way (which I didn't think was possible), with terrible graphics and clunky flight mechanics. Sure, the obstacles are a bit more manageable, but the bird still plummets at an impossible rate, making it just as stupidly frustrating, and without the fun Mario-esque overlay.
If it seems mean to single out Fly Birdie, I could just as easily pick on Flappy Plane, Flappy Bee, or any other attempt to catch flappy lightning in a flappy bottle for a second time. (And don't worry, Android users, you haven't been left out of the copycat fun.) Can we all agree that it's time for this flappy fad to fade away?--Leah Yamshon