Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But not every imitator is looking to be a complement. Throughout the history of the video game hobby there have always been imitators. The thing is, the good ones were also innovators. When it came out, Mortal Kombat was often called a Street Fighter clone. But it went in a new direction with digitized graphics, and gore. Great Giana Sisters is thought of as a Super Mario Bros clone. But it added a plethora of new power ups, had its own physics, and cool characters.
But this game is one of the worst kinds of clones. A clone that not only replicates something popular, but does it badly. A clone that feels cynical every time you try to pick it up. Like Action Girlz Racing, and other DDI Wii games. The kind of game that shrugs at you, and asks “Who cares? Somebody’s going to play it anyway.”
PROS: It’s only a dollar, so you’re not out that much.
CONS: Almost everything else.
ALSO: There are many better things you could do with that dollar.
If you couldn’t tell by the terrible title, and opening screen shot this is an Angry Birds clone. For the five of you who don’t know what Angry Birds is, it’s a puzzle game where you shoot birds into contraptions to squash cartoon pigs. You use a slingshot to do it. The game started life on cell phones before moving onto nearly everything else. While it’s a popular game for people to hate, it was a legitimately good mobile game. It was nothing Earth shattering, but it was solid. It used touch controls very well, and gave players a lot of puzzles to solve.
It took the mechanics of Gorilla Basic (Man am I dating myself with that reference.), and made them work in a new, and different style of game. Angry Birds became so popular that it spawned several sequels, a ton of merchandise, and tie-ins. Unfortunately for Rovio none of the sequels were all that different enough, and they haven’t really come up with any entirely new games. At least nothing that has captivated anyone the way Angry Birds did.
But we’re talking about a clone here, and while one might feel Angry Birds isn’t for them, Robots Vs. Birds Zombies isn’t made for anybody. It dresses itself up as a parody of Angry Birds. Likely in the hopes that when you find out it sucks, it can rely on being a parody, as a thinly veiled excuse for being bad. “I’m not supposed to be good, because I’m making fun of something that was popular! So it’s okay!”
When you first fire the game up you’ll be greeted with a configuration menu. Basically you can set your resolution, a one word quality setting, and whichever monitor you want to use in the event you have more than one. The title screen has no options whatsoever. After around 60 seconds of screaming “WHAT DO I DO?!?!” You’ll notice blue arrows of lightbulbs on the side of the screen. One on the upper right, one on the lower right. Clicking one gets you to a screen of circuit boards. Clicking an arrow of bulbs next to the boards takes you to the next set of boards. Each of the circuit boards is a stage.
If you start the lower run of boards you’ll get the obvious experience of using a slingshot. You’ll pull back the band using the mouse instead of your finger. But the idea is the same. Try to destroy undead birds, by using rocks to cause Rube Goldberg style chaos to have things fall on them, and squash them. If you start the upper run of boards, you’ll get a different experience. This one involves using missiles. You place tracker markers about the level so that when you fire your missiles, they’ll follow the path to make objects explode, and fall on the targets.
The thing is, in neither case does anything work the way it is supposed to. The slingshot stages never seem to line an arc up properly when you pull back, and fire. The actual slingshot itself, will many times reverse itself, get jittery, and shift above your character oddly. Even when the game works competently, there are bugs. There were several times objects that should have squished a bird didn’t. There were times where a bird would shake around violently in between two or more obstacles, unable to decide if it should count it as a kill or not.
But the game doesn’t fare much better in the other mode. It has some of the worst physics this side of Bad Ratz. It also has a very specific way it wants you to solve the puzzles. But even when you comply you’ll be fighting the game the entire time. Place a path point for your missile, and watch as the missile goes just outside the line enough to hit a wall, forcing another continue. In the slingshot rounds, a tracer appears after you shoot. You might think “Great! I was off a hair. I can use this as a guide, and see a success!” But you’d be wrong. Moving a hair suddenly makes your stone miss by an even wider margin.
The game functions. It hasn’t crashed on me. But it doesn’t make it fun. It’s just bad. It isn’t even the kind of bad you can play with your pals to laugh at. It fails as a parody, a clone, and an all around game. Even if you come into it with the expectation that it could make for a good gag gift, it doesn’t. Moreover, for the same dollar there are far better games you could give to someone as a joke. Some of them surprisingly pretty good. Some of them admittedly terrible, but entertainingly so.
Spend the dollar on one of those games instead. Or a great vintage game in a yard sale. Or a can of your favorite cola. Or a candy bar. Or a bridge toll on your next road trip vacation. Don’t spend it on this drivel. This game actually has Steam cards too. Don’t spend any money on those either. Put them as well as this game out of sight, and mind.
Final Score: 2 out of 10