Game Info:

Bird Mania Christmas 3D
Developed By: Teyon
Published By: Teyon
Release Date: December 26, 2013
Available On: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action/Endless Flier
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
MSRP: $1.99 on Nintendo eShop

Thank you Teyon for sending us this game for review!

The mobile gaming revolution has brought about a resurgence and refinement of some of the oldest and most time-tested gaming mechanics: chasing the high score.  One category of game that truly epitomizes this resurgence is that of the endless runner.  While I suppose it would be more accurate to call this game an endless flier, it is based on a similar concept: your creature (bird, in this case) moves automatically, and you manipulate it in limited ways which impacts your score based on success or failure.  There is a reason that this style of game is so popular these days: it can be very fun and addicting when done right.  And Bird Mania Christmas 3D did it right.

The premise of the game is very simple: You are a lost bird who missed his chance to join the other birds on their way to Africa.  So now it's time to fly south, avoiding many obstacles, including trees, airplanes, and other birds.  You have the ability to fly up and down, as well as boost.


Strong Points: Great price; touch screen controls work well; clean and colorful graphics; addicting gameplay
Weak Points: Only a single, endless flier style game mode; other control options vastly inferior to touch screen; dying to birds behind clouds feels cheap; holiday theme hampers appeal the rest of the year
Moral Warnings: Birds hit things and fall out of the sky (a.k.a. None!)

This game takes place on a flat 2D plane, similar to classic side scroller shoot 'em ups like Gradius.  You score points by moving to intercept stars or baubles, which includes things like balloons.  If you boost through another bird, you get a score multiplier.  If, while the multiplier meter is on the screen, you boost through another, your multiplier increases by one, and the meter resets itself.  It only lasts a few seconds, so as things speed up, it can get very frantic as you try to maintain larger and larger combos, while grabbing as many stars and baubles as you can, while also avoiding deadly trees.  And, if that wasn't enough, if you boost through airplanes, your combo is immediately lost.  Oh – and birds (and planes) are deadly if you don't boost through them.

This simple gameplay formula really does lend itself to addictive gameplay.  New with the Christmas release, (this is the second Bird Mania 3D game) there are now online leaderboards.  And, in a stroke of brilliance, by default it shows you the highest scores of all of your 3DS friends after every run.  As soon as I noticed this and showed it to my kids, I've never seen them so quick to plunk down the measly $2 for this game.  It was a Surprise Happy Hour!

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Now, we have 3 (out of 5) 3DSs in our house with a copy of Bird Mania 3D Christmas – and each day, I see my kids' high scores inch ever closer to mine.  For the record, as of this writing, I still have over double the points of my closest child.  I am currently at position 42 on the leaderboards with a score of 16378. My daughter is currently at position 68, score 8190, and closing fast.  She was at ~5000 yesterday.  My son's score is a bit lower, at 1577.  He's also 6, so cut him some slack.  ;)  If you can't see why this new addition is much bigger and more fun than it sounds like, you must not have any friends or siblings.

My main complaints with the game are few.  The Christmas theme really does the game a disservice, since who wants to play a Christmas-themed game but 2 months a year? Also, sometimes birds can be stuck behind clouds, and deaths from that feel Really Cheesy and can be frustrating.  Yes, you can learn to watch for it... but it's not as easy as it seems, when levels are moving past you, faster and faster. Thankfully there is the occasional night time to give the player a breather before the next speed jump.

Bird Mania 3D Christmas is a simple, but very fun game to pass the time, especially for the more competitive among us.  I let my kids play it with a perfectly clean conscience.  And, despite the limited play options, it's priced just right at $1.99 on the Nintendo eShop.


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