Bird. Mania. 3D.
Drink it in...
I'm not gonna lie, when I first saw this in the eShop, I immediately dismissed it as some sort of lesser knock-off of Angry Birds. I thought, "Great, it's another off-week. Thanks, Nintendo." The unusually cheap price only furthered my instant disregard for it. So, I closed my 3DS and went on with my day.
But for some reason, the name Bird Mania grew on me as the day went on. I was genuinely curious. 'What exactly about this game features birds in a manic fashion?' I had to find out. When I was able to get back to my 3DS, I hastily opened up the eShop, scrolled over to Bird Mania 3D and bought it.
Long story short: Surprisingly good.
Bird Mania 3D is a side-scrolling action/platformer title. The set-up is this: You control Mojo, a bluebird living with his bluebird friends in North America. Apparently, Mojo's a little lazy, as when it's time to fly south for the winter, he's still asleep and his friends have left him behind. Now he's got to fly maniacally to get to Africa and catch up with his buds.
...It's kind of a hard story scenario to swallow, to be sure. Fortunately, you don't have to pay any attention to it to get experience out of this game. In fact, I'd almost recommend ignoring any ramblings of a story outright. The game provides a fun, challenging and addictive experience through its core gameplay alone. The 3D effects really only concern the background--this is still a 2D game. Liken it to some of Nintendo's 3D Classics, if you will.
During gameplay, Mojo will fly automatically from the left side of the screen to the right. A brief tutorial is given upon starting your first round with the game, but the gist of it is this: Collect stars and don't hit things. Mojo's a one hit-point wonder, and will crash and burn the moment he touches another bird, bee, boulder, or the foliage of a tree. Your primary goal is to obtain a high-score; I'm not even sure if the game really ends, or if it just loops ad infinitum. But that's okay; there's plenty to do while you're maniacally flying about. As you collect stars and progress, Mojo speeds up and it becomes harder and harder to dodge obstacles.
I think why this game works so well is because it's so simple. Even the controls. There are four control schemes you can use altogether, although only one I'd really recommend. Because Mojo's flight path is set, you merely control his vertical movement. You can use the analog stick to move him up or down. Or up or down on the control pad. The X and B face buttons will also move him up or down, respectively. All three control styles work, although his handling's a little sloppy. You're given the option to control him with the stylus and the touch screen, however, and this is far and away the best choice. Movement is super responsive, and he handles like a charm when you're using the stylus. Regardless of your choice of vertical controls, you can use either the L or R shoulder buttons to give Mojo a brief 'turbo' moment--during which he can attack other animals to increase his point multiplier.
The developers of Bird Mania 3D included a host of achievements to work on, possibly in an effort to extend the life of the game. There are several, and are each based around different elements of the title's gameplay; fly such-and-such amount of miles without being hit, score this many points, don't attack anything for this amount of miles, etc. They all seem fairly well thought out, and work well with the core gameplay's addictive nature.
Bird Mania 3D is a surprising gem--if you're looking for a quick and cheap side-scroller fix, look no further. On the other hand, though, there's not a lot going on--there's no hidden depths or anything. This would have almost made more sense to release on either iOS or Droid. But I suppose that's why it's only priced at $1.99. Get it, and you'll have a maniacally good time... ;)