Review: Bird Assassin

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When people get offended by something, one of more common defenses is that the offended party “can’t take a joke”. What this tends to overlook is that the joke needs to be funny in the first place. Bird Assassin is obviously supposed to be a joke but goes over about as well as taking your vegan roommate to KFC. And lacking that humor, there’s not much else to do but mindlessly blast birds until you start to question the choices that got you here.

The setup is that you’re a pot-bellied noodle-legged trailer-trash hunter out with your pappy when an ostrich of all fucking things caps pappy with a revolver. Mourning over the gushing neck stump, you vow revenge against all birds because I guess it’s not just the enormous flightless ones that are psychotic. So begins a ten-level quest to rid the skies of murderous mallards, terrifying turkeys, and deadly doves with an arsenal of quality Wal-mart armaments. And don’t worry, he brings all the meat home after each killing spree.

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What this amounts to is a simple platformer with a whole lotta shootin’ and not a whole lot else. Each of those ten levels has you strolling to the right as flocks of murderbirds flap in to dive-bomb and peck you to oblivion. They come in waves as you advance so real quick you’ll learn to creep forward and blast groups at a time. In the meantime you have to hop over bear traps and sticker bushes, sometimes using platforms scattered about, and sometimes snagging coins for more cash and mushrooms to regain health. Most levels just end, but a few have a short chase scene and three have a boss fight. The same one. All three times.

Between levels you can spend your bucks on new weapons, armor, and upgrades like faster shooting and slower enemies. As long as you’re not blindly running through levels your upgrades are going to far outstrip your enemies, though. You can have the ultimate weapon, a Terminator 2-style minigun, just after the midpoint of the game. And at that point you’re really just shuffling a few steps at a time and sweeping the screen, over and over and over again. It’s great if you love mindless slaughter or the sound of bird carcasses slapping the earth, but don’t expect any sort of challenge whatsoever.

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Actually that’s a lie, some of the braindead design choices might challenge you a bit. Bird corpses persist on the ground for quite a few seconds, and when they pile up they can completely obscure ground hazards that do loads of damage. There’s also some dodgy detection on the platforms that can get you stuck when trying to hop off or fail to connect when you hop up. And the one boss (repeated three times) only has three attacks that it doesn’t even use all of in any given encounter. So I suppose you might not be challenged by difficulty (there are no difficulty levels either), but you may be challenged to care after 20 minutes.

That’s not so bad though, because the game only lasts 30 minutes. 30 minutes gets you all ten stages beaten and all upgrades unlocked. There are no extra modes or higher difficulties or anything. You get half an hour of mindlessly shooting birds and that’s it. I know sometimes we need a good time-waster between bigger games (that’s why I play hidden object games!) but there needs to be a bare minimum of content and care found within. The content definitely isn’t here, and I’m sorry but watching a dopey redneck splatter hundreds of birds isn’t real funny to me. Maybe it is to you, and maybe 30 minutes of it is enough, but honestly I don’t really see how.

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