Game Review: Raise a Chick into an Eagle in Birdland

birdlandlogoBirdland is a beautiful new virtual pet game with 245K MMAU, where users start off with an aviary, consisting of a cage, and adopt cute domestic birds, feeding and playing with them occasionally in order to level up. The game resembles Happy Pets and Happy Aquarium and is essentially a cross between the two, but more focused on the untapped theme of cute, domestic birds. Read our review after the jump.

  • Title: BirdLand
  • Genre: Virtual Pet Caring
  • Game Developer: Birdland
  • Game Publisher: Birdland
  • Released: 2010

bird3Summary

The game resembles Happy Pets and Happy Aquarium, essentially a cross between the two except focused on an untapped theme of cute, domestic birds. Players adopt, feed and play with birds while decorating their birdcage. It’s essentially a bird farming game (buy and sell) but creates more emotional connection with the birds. Overall the game has all the features of a traditional pet-based social game and is great for 5-10 minutes of play.

Pros

Simple and easy to use interface. Many different birds, decorations and birdcage-themes to choose from. Ability to tickle birds while chasing them around the cage, creating fun emotions. Perfect for bird enthusiasts who might fancy birds over cats, dogs and fish.

Cons

Same features in pet games we’ve seen before. Limited sound effects, which detract from the serenity of bird sounds. Birds seemingly limited to domestic birds. Not much visibility of cooperative play asides from the illusion of cleaning.

Full Review

Gameplay

The gameplay is analogous to pet games we’ve seen before, such as Happy Pets and Happy Aquarium, 2 games by Crowdstar. Players come in every day to collect coins from a treasure chest, although I wonder how a chest managed to get inside a bird cage? To start off, you are given about 500 coins and the tutorial walks them through adopting a bird, at a cost of 100. Next, you fill up the feeder with bird food (which automatically subtracts about 16 coins from your total for every fill) and birds wander over to the feeder by themselves when they are hungry. You can also play with the birds by clicking a hand tool and poking at them while they fly around and perch atop sticks (which are accessories and you can buy cool looking ones over time).

Meters, similar to Happy Pets, represent hunger and happiness. There is also a premium currency known as feathers although no item in the shop, even the locked ones, cost feathers. On the payments page, players can purchase both birdland feathers and birdland coins, hinting at the fact that both currencies will be important and differentiated.

The first time around, a player can get to about level 2 and purchase up to 4 birds without purchasing other accessories and decorations. Accessories include different colored/shaped feeders and sticks. Decorations also seem to have real function (as opposed to many of the island/tycoon games we’ve recently seen) and may have impact on the ‘happiness’ meter of the birds. Another interesting and visually compelling feature are themes which we’ll elaborate on in the next section.

bird2Presentation

The game immediately draws you in upon loading with light, spring colors. The decoration feature will allow anyone to customize their birdcage to their desires, while the XP points will keep them from burning through the content. Another feature known as ‘Themes’ allows users to change the background of their cages and users have the ability to choose from 3 nice looking ones starting out.

One thing lacking is the sound effects, there’s a lack of chirping or sound effects even while playing with the birds

Sociability

The game mechanics of collecting coins, adopting, feeding and playing with your pets wouldn’t be classified as innovative but we expect the game to proliferate these actions and add extra layers of interactions and features within these actions to promote cooperation. Players are occasionally asked to help save the life of a bird with an emotional message and animated picture showing a sad bird shivering. Compelling? We think so.

Lasting Appeal

The cuteness of the birds, extensive customizability, beautiful backgrounds, and the upkeep allow for a good 5-10 minute session. The game does a good job of exploiting our guilty conscience by psychologically coercing us into finding homes for lost birds! Expect the game to introduce the element of breeding as gender of the birds is selected upon adoption. We also expect some sort of mini-games to come into play as an extra avenue of earning some XP and coins. Overall the game meets all the standards of a good social game minus the innovative part. However the game is still in its infancy and it’s better to release a game early, listen to the community and innovate and evolve based on feedback. Happy bird watching!