Prepare yourself for the pain of failure: the creator of Flappy Bird has a new ultra-hard mobile game out today in time to test your patience before the holidays. Swing Copters 2, a free-to-play sequel to the mobile title developer DotGears Studios released last year, is much like its predecessor. Users are asked to maneuver a pixelated retro sprite wearing a propeller hat through a tiny sliver of space between two swinging hammers for as long as possible. Like the studio’s previous games, the only mechanic is tapping the screen without brushing up against anything else.
In my first three play throughs, I managed a respectable score of zero, so DotGears founder Dong Nguyen doesn't appear to be changing up his punishingly difficult design style any time soon. The game does introduce some unique elements. It has noticeably improved graphics and a whole cast of new playable characters with which you can earn medals to unlock other in-game content. Swing Copters 2 features DotGears' signature banner ads, but the team also added a pay-to-unlock system to access new characters for $0.99. You can also pay the same fee to remove ads for good.
The Hanoi, Vietnam-based game studio now consists of six people including Nguyen. But DotGears has remained relatively quiet since the Flappy Bird phenomenon that changed Nguyen's life nearly two years ago. The enigmatic mobile game, which drew inspiration from classic Nintendo titles and was designed to be extremely difficult, took off months after its release and shortly became one of the most downloaded apps in the world. It also led to countless clones, including one just this week from The Washington Post called Flappy Candidate timed to the election cycle.
But the massive influx of attention last year, which included threats and a torrent of criticism, led Nguyen to pull Flappy Bird from app stores. He cited the game's addictive nature at the time, and smartphones with Flappy Bird still installed began popping up at premium prices on eBay. Nguyen then went quiet for months until his team released a multiplayer version of Flappy Bird for Amazon's Fire TV and put out Swing Copters in August 2014. Nguyen has been keeping busy since with side projects and other game development work.
Nguyen pulled Flappy Bird from app stores and began focusing on new games
"At first, the plan was to update the current app so it should take one month," Nguyen writes of Swing Copters 2 on DotGears' website. "However, the plan was changed to make a sequel instead, and it took more than two months. We worked hard to complete it in 2015." Though the company's site says Swing Copters 2 is being released on December 17th, the game is now live on the iOS App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon's Appstore.
Update at 2:05PM on Wednesday, December 16th: Added app store links to Swing Copters 2 for iOS, Android, and Amazon now that all versions are live.