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Songbird Symphony Alpha Preview

Birb is the word.

Songbird Symphony is, by developer Joysteak Studio’s own billing, “a pixel art musical adventure game”. That’s a long-winded way to say that it’s a rhythm game. The ‘musical adventure’ begins with a pudgy little bird named Birb (yes, really) setting off to search for his uncle Mr. Pea(cock).

birb.png

Somewhere between getting chased by bees (relax: they’re friendly, for the first time in gaming history) and hopping around on mushroom trampolines, Birb finds himself needing to cross a chasm and it’s here that the musical aspect presents itself. Birb interacts with his pixelated world in two ways: Hopping around, and chirping musical notes. Speaking with other characters (each one ‘speaks’ with a different instrumental sound), moving platforms from A to B, it’s all done through music. It’s an amusing twist on the rhythm genre and did I mention that it’s adorable?

It’s ADORABLE. The little bird bouncing in place while he idles, throwing jazz hands (wings?) when he chirps a note, the cartoony mountains and clouds in the backdrop. It’s all a very whimsical affair.

birb3.png

The initial stage will end after you’ve met Mr. Pea and learned to dance. Essentially, it’s the tutorial, and only one of three musical notes is used. There’s also a Challenge Mode that incorporates all three notes and slots are visible for up to six notes total. Presumably, given that the game is in alpha, these extra notes will be added later. Also, in a playful shot at every amateur singer ever, there’s a one-note gameplay mode (skipping the entire game section prior to meeting Mr. Pea) called ‘Karaoke Mode’.

After a round of rhythm gameplay, you’ll get a breakdown of your skill level judged by correct hits, missed hits, wrong hits and three levels of ‘correct’ ranging from good to excellent. It isn’t very clear what determines those levels but you get an overall accuracy percentage as well so it’s mostly about pushing that number.

birb4.png

The only real downside is, as noted (pun unintended), that lack of clear criteria for the end scoring. It could also do with a little more than a basic tutorial but then, ‘I want more’ isn’t really a downside, is it? All in all, it’s a delightful little game. A fun twist on rhythm games with a lively, cute aesthetic. I’ll give it a B. For Birb. It’s a great little alpha demo and I can’t wait to see the full game.

Pros

  • Fun twist on rhythm gameplay.
  • Heart-swellingly joyful aesthetic.
  • ‘Birb’ is super fun to say.

Cons

  • Unclear scoring criteria.
  • Could be longer even for a demo.
  • The game is good so I couldn’t say ‘This game is for the birbs’.
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