Swing Copters: Punishingly Difficult, Highly Addictive

The whole internet is abuzz with the news of Swing Copters’ release. The mobile app game, developed by GEARS Studios, has caught the attention of gamers as it is the follow up to the furiously addictive Flappy Bird. As you may recall, Flappy Bird was pulled from release as creator Dong Nguyen stated is was simply ‘too addictive’ to be made available. Following the announcement, piles upon piles of imitation games were released on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and mobile phones with the app installed were selling online from $300 to up to $90,000. Safe to say, the game was popular. So, does Swing Copters live up to the same standards?

We certainly saw that anticipation was high before release. Before the game was even available in app stores, dozens of clones with unimaginative monikers such as ‘SwingCopters’, ‘Copters Swing’ and ‘Piggy Copters’ were suddenly ready for download. The clones were swiftly removed from the Google Play Store soon after the official game’s launch, an encouraging sign that perhaps app stores are now taking the problem of app cloning more seriously. In an ironic twist, indie studio Open Name has opened a case against GEARS, stating that Swing Copters is in fact a clone of their title, Bog Racer. At time of writing, Bog Racer is unavailable for download, possibly because of the cull of Swing Copters clones.

So what of the game itself? This time around, the action focuses on a small… thing, wearing a propeller hat. Your job is to guide it through a perilous path of scaffolding and swinging hammers (one thinks it would just be easier to catch the bus). The gameplay is very similar to Flappy Birds, in that the more obstacles you avoid, the more points you accrue. However, the obstacles are now even harder to avoid, as each tap launches your character either into the left or right of the screen, necessitating frantic tapping to keep it somewhere in the middle. Away from the hammers.

That’s how the game work, but the most important question is, is it fun? I downloaded the game for research purposes, and within five minutes I wanted to throw my phone through the nearest window. At time of writing, I am yet to score a single point. For me, this is a serious strike against the game, but for others, the stupendously steep learning curve is the entire draw for them.

I’m not alone in my views, however. The Atlantic described Swing Copters as ‘abusively difficult’, which is a phrase that fits the game nicely. There’s no tutorial, no graduated difficulty, no easy ‘in’ for someone who would want to get better at the game gradually. For seasoned gamers, this could well be a breath of fresh air in an industry that they feel makes games embarrassingly easy to chase higher sales figures.

Others have levelled rather harsh criticism at the game, saying that it’s an ‘exercise built for monotony’. While I agree that the game itself is rather pointless, it’s not exactly the only pointless game out there on the market. Titles such as Hay Day and Temple Run have the player play on and on, fulfilling certain criteria in order to reach goals that allow the player to go onto the next level of fulfilling criteria, and so on. The only real difference is that Swing Copters offers no goal other than reaching a new high score. In fact, the game is charmingly ‘old school’ in that sense.

In conclusion, then, Swing Copters is something that clearly isn’t to everyone’s tastes. However, it certainly has everybody talking and is arguably a fresh idea in app gaming. Plus, if it has the app stores taking game cloning seriously, that can only be a good thing. If you give it a go, though, I recommend sitting in a padded room. The phone probably will go flying at some point.

Posted in Blog & News.