If you go on the Nintendo Switch eShop and look at the best sellers list right now, you’ll find a game basically no one had heard of sitting in second place, just under Untitled Goose Game and above a pre-order for Luigi’s Mansion 3. That game is Revenge of the Bird King, and despite the fact that no one has heard of it, it’s pretty clear how it rose up the ranks. If you go to the great deals section of the eShop, you’ll see that the game is currently only nine cents. Surely, a lot of people bought the game for that reason alone right? Hell, I know I did, and I used Gold Coins instead of spending real money. So now a lot of people have this thing, but is it any good?
No, it really isn’t. But it’s also not atrocious. Revenge of the Bird King is a perfectly functional 2D platformer with an NES aesthetic. It’s very clear that the developer was inspired by Shovel Knight, which could be described similarly, although I’d say that game is better than “functional”. But beyond the basics, everything from silly dialogue, to a group of themed bosses with silly names, to dumb puns appearing before you start playing, this game feels like someone just really wanted to make Shovel Knight.
Thankfully, there’s a little bit of original stuff. You play as a Gunman from Gunworld (or is he the Bird King? I don’t know) who has the ability to plant Gunplants. Gunplants sprout guns, which you can take and shoot enemies with. By holding down the A button when you throw a Gunplant seed, the plant will instead sprout as a turret. I’ll admit, there’s some originality there, but it left more confused than anything. You have unlimited seeds, so why even have to plant the guns? When you run out of bullets, you just plant another one. What’s the point?
I’ll admit, I bounced off the game pretty hard, so maybe that’ll clear itself up later. There’s definitely other weapons you can buy between stages and the L button appears to change weapons, though I didn’t have anything to change to. Maybe the other weapons are more limited in the amount of seeds you get and you to choose when you want to use them? I will never know, unless someone tells me. But as it stands, this whole mechanic, the thing it seems to base the majority of the gameplay on, just seems pointless.
Along with his Gunplants, your character, who is called “P. Eagle” in dialogue, carries a giant sword. This again feels pointless because you have unlimited bullets, but the first time I swung it at an enemy it felt even more pointless. Your sword does nothing against most enemies, although it can break shields on certain enemies. It can also be used to clear open pathways, most of which aren’t even hidden, so it’s just the game asking you to push a different button to advance. It’s just not very good.
After competing the opening stage, you are dropped off into an overworld, which had a very Zelda II feel to it. I went to the first area I found, which was already on the screen. It’s a castle, much like the first real level of Shovel Knight. Hmm. The level wasn’t too hard, but it had a few tricky parts. Unfortunately, there are no check points, so if you mess up a little and fall on some spikes, get ready to do the whole thing over again. There are items you can buy that help a little bit, like an eagle that lets you respawn when you died, but I could only afford one, so it didn’t help that much. I’m not even sure if you could bring in multiple if you had the coins, but regardless, I didn’t.
If you make it to the end of the level, you fight the boss. Thankfully, at this point, you finally get a checkpoint. Unfortunately, the boss is basically impossible. He’s constantly jumping around and throwing shit everywhere in patterns that often leave no room for escape. Maybe I’m just bad, but I only managed to knock about a quarter of his health off on my best attempt at this fight. This is the point where I finally just threw in the towel.
It’s not all bad though. There’s some genuinely funny dialogue and generally speaking, the game plays just fine. I mean if you’re going to make an 8-bit styled platformer, you could pick a much worse game to be inspired by than Shovel Knight. But all this game succeeded in doing was making me want to play that instead. yeah, it was only nine cents, so it’s not like I’m out much, but I don’t think I can recommend that you also spend nine cents on it.