Flappy Bird Player’s Guide

Flappy Bird is a game for Mac and Android handhelds that took the world by storm in early 2014. Though much has been written about the game’s meteoritic rise, enormous following and reclusive, emotional creator, Dong Nguyen, what follows is a comprehensive attempt to simply document everything we know about the game itself.

It should be noted that Flappy Bird is no longer available for download as of February 9, 2014.

Objective

Flappy Bird has an exceedingly simple conceit: guide a small, fluttering bird through an endless forrest of obtrusive green pipes. The bird will die if he collides with a pipe or the ground, and you only get one chance before it’s Game Over. How long can you last?

Characters

The birds

The birds

The Bird – the Bird is the hero of Flappy Bird and the character controlled by the player. He’s a chubby little fellow who can’t fly very easily on account of his tiny, weak wings.

His mission in life is to stay happy and healthy as his makes his way through the forest of pipes.

In the first edition of Flappy Bird, the Bird was always yellow, however in version two, the Bird is assigned one of three different colors — yellow, red, and blue — every time you play. There’s no gameplay difference between the different colored birds.

Obstacles

Pipe Pairs

A Pipe Pair

Pipe Pairs - the world of Flappy Bird is filled with pipes, which appear in an endless sequence of pairs; one hanging from the sky, one protruding from the ground. Though the gap between the sky pipe and the ground pipe is always the same size, the pipes themselves vary in height, meaning the location of the gap changes with each Pipe Pair.

In all, there are over a dozen different gap locations formed by over dozen distinct Pipe Pairs. Which Pipe Pair you will see next is completely random.

An assortment of Pipe Pairs

An assortment of Pipe Pairs

Controls

The player controls the Bird by tapping the device screen. One tap equals one flap of the bird’s wings, but since the Bird is so heavy and his wings so weak, the player must tap constantly in order to keep the the Bird afloat and prevent him from crashing and producing a Game Over.

Scoring

Every time the Bird is able to pass through a gap between a Pipe Pair, the player wins a point.

Winning

There is no end to Flappy Bird; the pipe forest continues forever. Though a popular prank video suggests the Pipe Pairs begin doing crazy things after the player wins about 900 points, this isn’t actually true. Unaltered videos suggest the game actually remains exactly the same even after winning over 1,000 points.

Special items

Medals

The Four Medals

There are four special reward prizes you can win in Flappy Bird for enduring particularly long.

Bronze Medal – Awarded for winning between 10 and 19 points.

Silver Medal – Awarded for winning between 20 and 29 points.

Flappy Bird medal

Gold Medal – Awarded for winning between 30 and 39 points.

Platinum Medal – Awarded for winning 40 points and up.

Game Over

Upon colliding with a pipe or the ground, the Game Over screen appears.

Game Over

The Game Over screen

The Game Over screen displays your current score, your all-time high score, and which medal (if any) you won in that particular game. Below that, you are given the option to either play again (the green arrow button), or view the game’s leader board on the iTunes/Android game screen (the red podium button). Flappy Bird leader boards are not very interesting to view, however, since they’re mostly filled with the phoney scores of people who have hacked the game to “win” the maximum 9,999 points. Based on YouTube videos, actual all-time high scores tend to be in the 900 to 1,000 points range, which usually takes about half an hour of play to achieve.

In the first edition of Flappy Bird (see below) the Game Over screen did not have a link to the leader board, but instead offered players the ability to share their scores via Twitter, Facebook, email, or SMS.

Releases, updates, and editions

Graphical changes between version one and two.

Graphical changes between version one and two.

The original Flappy Bird was released on May 24th, 2013 for Mac. In September of 2013 a minor update was released correcting some small bugs and changing the game’s icon.

On January 30, 2014 an Android version was released that was slightly different from the Mac version, on February 7, 2014, the Mac version was updated to be more like the new Android one.

The differences between Flappy Bird version one (the pre-February 2014 Mac version) and version two (the Android version and post-February 2014 Mac version) are minor, and only really affect the game’s appearance and user interface, as opposed to gameplay.

The main differences are:

  • The graphics have been considerably revamped in version two. The Bird now appears in different colors, and gameplay now occasionally takes place against a “night” backdrop.
  • The game’s frame rate has improved, making the animation smoother, and by some accounts, the game slightly easier as a result.
  • The pause button in the screen’s top left corner has been removed.
  • The ability to share scores from the Game Over screen has been replaced with a link to view the game’s leader board.

Tips and Tricks

Success at Flappy Bird is primarily a matter of timing, rhythm, and endurance, and there’s a limit to how much strategy players can use in beating their high scores. Most pro players offer the following advice:

  • The Bird will be easier to navigate if you tap slowly and rhythmically, rather than quickly and frantically.
  • Releasing your finger from the screen and letting the bird “drop” can make navigating from a tall to short Pipe Pair easier.
  • Some players find the game easier to play on a tablet than a phone.
  • Getting overly stressed or excited while playing Flappy Birds can ruin your focus. Some find they can achieve higher scores if they play the game while talking to friends, watching TV, or listening to music so all their mental energy is not going into the game.
  • If playing on a phone, consider turning the device to “airplane mode,” or otherwise deactivating it so that your gameplay will not be disrupted by phone calls or text messages.

In-Jokes and references

As Flappy Bird is quite a simple game, there are only a few “easter eggs” present in it.

Game creator Dong Nguyen originally intended to use the Bird character in a different game. The world’s first glimpse of the character appeared in a tweet he sent on November 6, 2012, depicting what appears to be a sort of RPG-style fantasy game, in which the Bird is possibly an enemy.

The green pipes in Flappy Bird are an obvious allusion to the iconic green warp pipes of the Mario Brothers series of games from Nintendo. The gaming website Kotaku originally claimed game creator Dong Nguyen had “ripped off” the art directly from a Mario game, but the editor-in-chief later apologized, and characterized Flappy Bird‘s graphics as merely being “inspired by Mario art.”