Remember Flappy Bird, the super-addictive phone game that took the world by a storm in 2013 before disappearing from the App Store for good? Well, Fledgling Heroes offers a very similar experience, with players bouncing birds across their screens as they avoid hazards and try to keep the avian stars in one piece.
The Flappy Bird comparison is probably a little bit unfair here, though – whilst they feel similar from a gameplay perspective, Fledgling Heroes has a heck of a lot more charm and a more varied adventure for gamers to sink their teeth into. Developer Subtle Boom have now brought the experience over to the Nintendo Switch too, giving players of all ages the chance to enjoy this family-friendly and pleasantly enjoyable escapade on their TV screens or on the go.
The gameplay of Fledgling Heroes will feel pretty familiar to just about anyone who has actually played Flappy Bird (or… you know… the other games that tried to copy it on the app store), with the player leading a little bird through a locale full of hazards by pressing a button to flap their wings and keep the bird’s momentum going upwards. If you don’t flap your wings, the bird will start to dip downwards, so you’ve got to balance everything out in order to ensure that you’ll fly in the direction and at the trajectory required to avoid any obstacles in your path or to grab one of the many collectibles littered around. I’ve probably made it sound a bit over-complicated there, but it’s so easy to pick up and play, whilst the in-game tutorials explain every mechanic of the game perfectly – there’s only one button required to play after all, so it can’t be THAT difficult…
Of course, there’s more to Fledgling Heroes than simply flapping about, with the player also able to come across boost-arrows that’ll speed them up and allow them to smash through any enemies in their path, whilst they’re also able to glide by holding the flap button which speeds the bird up at the cost of their manoeuvrability. The enemies that are found across the levels will really keep you on your toes too, with lizards blasting cannon balls at you, flying fish jumping from the sea to block your path, and even sharks hunting in the waters if you decide to take a little dip. A lot of these enemies can be taken out by simply bopping them on the head, but some just need to be avoided completely if you want to survive. It makes it feel like Fledgling Heroes offers more of an adventure, which is a lot more than some of its iOS counterparts can say.
Another neat addition that changes up the gameplay comes with the birds that you’ll play as, with six different varieties in total that are spread across the game’s three worlds. Half of them utilise the same flapping mechanics that’ll see you gliding through the sky, but the Penguin, Kingfisher, and Quail bring something different to the fray. The Penguin’s levels primarily take place in water for example (though he can leap out and bounce across land in places), whilst the Kingfisher will dive down into the water and launch himself back out of it as you travel across both sea and air. They add a fresh little twist to the experience that offers gamers something new to play around with, but without changing the comfortable and accessible control mechanics up too much.
The basic goal of each level in Fledgling Heroes is to reach the end marker, with most taking around thirty seconds to a minute to complete. However, there are plenty of objectives to complete along the way, including the likes of defeating a set number of enemies, smashing incoming cannonballs, travelling a specific distance, or gliding for a set amount of time, just to name a few. Completing objectives like these is actually vital to your success, with the player then collecting golden feathers which are required to unlock additional levels on the map. You can also find these golden feathers littered across levels anyway, as well as additional collectibles such as new colour varieties for your birds and blueprints for the game’s level editor (more on that later). With multiple routes to take through levels in order to gather everything, it adds a sense of replayability to Fledgling Heroes where you’ll have to beat levels a good two or three times in order to completely clear them. It might sound daunting, but their short length and the solid level design ensures that it never feels like a chore.
Fledgling Heroes’ gameplay is simple in design, but it makes for a really enjoyable time. I got totally addicted to uncovering each level’s collectibles and found that I could NOT move onto the next level until I found everything – it’s not compulsory by any stretch of the imagination, but completing objectives and trawling through each and every locale for any hidden secrets was just a lot fun. It’s also an accessible game, with the reasonable difficulty making it easy for youngsters to join in on the action and the touchscreen controls making leading the birds through levels a simple process. Players of any age can enjoy Fledgling Heroes, but that doesn’t mean adults won’t find themselves completely addicted too…
That being said, the game is probably a bit guilty of being TOO simple at times. Despite having plenty of objectives and being addictive to play, Fledgling Heroes is rarely challenging and it shouldn’t take players long to complete the game – you could probably completely clear it in between two to three hours. Sure, there is a difficulty curve there and some of the later levels and boss encounters with dragons do push your skills, but rarely to the point where it’ll take more than a handful of attempts to complete.
Whilst you may finish the main levels fast though, one of Fledgling Heroes’ neatest features is its level editor which allows you to not only craft your own levels but also assign your own objectives and collectibles. Given that you unlock parts for the level creator through general gameplay, it’s best to play around with it when you’ve collected enough blueprints to put together something special – there are plenty of different enemy types and environment parts to unlock and you can be a lot more creative when you get to utilise them. Impressively, you can also share the levels you create online and even play those created by others, giving you potentially an endless supply of levels to play through. Of course, Fledgling Heroes will need a decent community of creative folk in order to get some worthwhile levels into the mix, so here’s hoping we see plenty of unique creations shared by the game’s players over time.
Fledgling Heroes is a simple, fun, and addictive experience that takes a tried-and-tested formula and adds a charming adventure to it. There’s a decent amount of variety to be found throughout the game, whilst the level editor gives players something to play around with once they’ve cleared it.
It is a little bit easy though, with Fledgling Heroes easily cleared in a handful of hours. It’s not a big problem by any means (especially since the game isn’t too expensive), but it’s worth bearing in mind if you were hoping for a lengthy experience.
Still, with its fun and accessible family-friendly gameplay, Fledgling Heroes is easy to recommend to players of all ages. It might be a bit simple and places and won’t take you long to beat, but you’ll have a good time leading your sextet of avian heroes on their pleasant journey.
Developer: Subtle Boom
Publisher: Subtle Boom
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch