Non Flying Soldiers
Developer: Blue Shadow Games
Platform(s): iPhone (Reviewed), iPad, iPod Touch
Release Date: May 17, 2012
Price: $0.99 – Available Here
Birds can fly. Birds can fight.
Or can they?
Non Flying Soldiers explores both those ideas in Chillingo’s newest game on the App Store. You are the leader of a squadron of birds. However, these birds are no ordinary birds. You must “take your squad of super squawking soldiers to the limit. Featuring a unique blend of humor, puzzling gameplay, and action, Non Flying Soldiers hits the target in every way possible.” (Apple.com)
Does N.F.S. really take to the skies and deliver an adrenaline rush worth ponying up the dough for? Or is it simply another game that passes through the app store like a migrating flock of birdies; here one minute, and gone the next, with barely a moment of entertainment in-between? Find out in the following review.
As the leader of this grand army, it is your job to get your courageous, yet slow witted soldiers to the end of each track. Why is it so important they run these drills? Why are there these strange obstacles obstructing their path? Why do they need to follow the road and get to the other side?
No one knows for certain, but when you are a soldier, you don’t question orders. Therefore, your task is to get your obedient avian companions from point A to point B. Along the way, you must guide them through rings of fire, ginormous pits of doom and other nasty traps that would make most birds shake in their boots. The other huge problem that must be solved is that these birds can’t fly. At least, not very far.
Therefore, the crux of the game is building new objects that can help your infantry traverse the expanse of each level. At one end of the level, your soldiers are all boxed in. Before you let them out, you have to prepare. After all, you as the general, can see what the entire level looks like from above or from the side. The game gives you an inventory of items to choose from for each level. Each item can help your recruits get to the box on the other side of the level. For example, you can build a ramp which the birds could jump off and safely fly through a fire ring before their pitiful flying skills give out. Or, you could position a log so that they avoid a ground trap as they are walking. And, you can position items so that the birds can reach collectible medal pins.
Once you have everything set just so, it is time to release the birds. Out they march in formation. If your preparations were a success, they will hit all items you laid down, avoid all the traps and collect all the things that need collecting. Hopefully, they will also do it in record time too. After all, the military gives out up to 3 stars per level if you can keep all your soldiers alive, get all the medals and do it fast. Bird governments are weird that way. Of course, if you lose a soldier or some other terrible misfortune befalls you, you can still pass the level as long as one bird reaches the end of the level.
All in all, the game is terrific fun. The puzzles really make you think, especially if you are trying to pick up all the collectibles. In addition, I love that this puzzle game makes you be the one making the decisions on where to place items. There are multiple ways to solve levels, and I enjoyed unlocking and using all the items in my inventory to get through each level.
I do have one major quibble though. The camera in the game is simply atrocious. Sometimes it is impossible to distinguish where to put items down. While it may look ok in one angle, once you let the birds out, they miss the item because it wasn’t positioned 1mm to the left or the right. Or they get stuck on an item because you didn’t notice some piece of something sticking out. This can be maddening, as you know that you have the correct solution(s), but you keep having to reset the level because one of the idiot birds keeps missing his cue because you can’t rotate the camera to see the level correctly.
Audio and Visuals
Audio in the game is ok. The sound effects are funny, and they match the mood of the game. The soundtrack is a goofy military mix and it also fits Non Flying Soldier’s theme well. I would have enjoyed some voice acting, but I didn’t mind reading everything either.
Graphics in the game are also good. Although they can be a little frustrating, as they contribute to the problems mentioned in the Gameplay section, I don’t really have a problem with the visuals. The colors are bright, the graphics are interesting and they don’t take away from the game. Plus, those birds are so gosh darned cute when they dance around at the end of each level.
Overall, I would heartily recommend Non Flying Soldiers. It may not be the most exciting game on the App Store, but it provides a lot of fun moments and some of the puzzles can really make you think. Building each course was a ton o’ fun, and I can’t wait to get back to playing it. Although there are some frustrating moments, these don’t crop up enough to give this game a bad review.