Flappy Bird Doesn't Need a Re-Release
Flappy Bird

Any chance the guys from Duck Dynasty could shoot this damn bird?

Flappy Bird is a rip-off. Yes you can argue the merits of its success. You can even point to the ridiculous amount of cash it was raking in during the height of its popularity. That doesn’t change the simple fact that this app is, unequivocally, a rip-off in every way, shape and form. While I realize there’s nothing new under the sun (as you see recycling of themes from films, literature and music all the time), Flappy Bird is mired by more than just accusations of plagiarism (or whatever you’d call the video game equivalent).

Its creator comes across as a grandiose douche with delusions of grandeur.

Dong Nguyen, who is a programmer living in Vietnam, set the mobile world on fire with his release of the incredibly addictive little title last spring. It quickly rose to become one of the most downloaded apps on both Google Play and the App Store, clearing over five figures in revenue on a daily basis. However, Nguyen removed it from the market soon after, following claims it liberally pulled inspirations from other well-known sources (most notably the Super Mario Bros. franchise). While Nguyen called the similarities nothing more than a “homage” rather than a blatant copy, his later claims of saving the youth from the Frankenstein’s monster he had created were even more unbelievable. He maintains that in the aftermath, he received letters from parents stating that Flappy was so addicting, he was directly responsible for “distracting the children of the world." Oh and it doesn’t stop there; he also asserts that Mother’s began neglecting their children, people lost their jobs and smartphones literally ceased to function in their owner’s hands due to its “One Ring” nature. In light of these revelations, Nguyen recently stated that: "At first I thought they were just joking, but I realize they really hurt themselves." He also suggests he’d consider re-releasing the game a second time, but only if a proper disclaimer was implemented, in order to protect the masses from themselves of course.


So with one fell swoop, Nguyen vanquished the evil force he had unleashed upon the world, thus becoming our savior! The End...

At least, that’s how he’d like the story told. But here is the truth of the matter: Nguyen’s real motivations are much less angelic. He’s simply covering his ass. First of all, the graphics are more than just paying tribute to Super Mario Brothers. THEY ARE SUPER MARIO BROTHERS. From the iconic pipes and clouds, to the bird itself (which is clearly a recolored Cheep Cheep from World 2-3), it would be silly to deny the total disregard here in respecting the work of previous artists (and the ensuing lawsuits that would have come to pass). That’s like making a game with colored laser-swords and “Star-Blower-Upper-Thingies” and expecting Disney not to sick Boba Fett on your tail. Secondly, I would bring your attention to a title from 2011 called Piou Piou vs. Cactus (on the market several years before Flappy Bird made its debut). Journalist Patrick O'Rourke was quick to point out that the comparisons of its tiny floating fowl (avoiding large cacti laid out in virtually the exact same way as Nguyen’s) can’t just be a miraculous coincidence. Hell, you could even draw comparisons to the infamous unwater levels of Super Mario circa ’85, which we all no doubt toiled away at. It would seem that we are now starting to blur the line between the words “influenced” and “cloned.” Besides; aren’t’ all these new-fangled tap apps just an off-shoot of that helicopter game from 2000 (you remember that right)? I’m sure its creator David McCandless would have something to say about it.

Flappy Bird

This god-complex that Nguyen’s seems to poses is nothing more than a front. Frankly, I call BS on these alleged emails and messages he’s received, as they are likely as trumped up as his designs. By creating a supposed “pandemic” surrounding his release and then stepping in as the only one with the cure, it certainly paints him in a very saintly light doesn’t it? In the end, it just masks his own shortcomings (and the fact that he’s generated a small fortune by standing on the shoulders of artists who came before him). So allow us to stand together and state a resounding “NO” when it comes time to hit the install button on our smartphones (if Flappy Bird is in fact re-released).

Until we do, this kind of thing will simply never end. It’s our dollars which prop-up these practices; which means it’s ultimately our fault.

Jason Messer
Jason Messer

Editor-in-Chief / Video Content Director
Date: 03/13/2014

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