This Twitch Plays Pokemon-themed Flappy Bird clone might make the Internet implode

And just when you thought that either of these wacky fringe fascinations couldn't get better. Think again.

Screenshots by Nick Statt/CNET

If you've ever wondered what it would be like for the Internet to fold in on itself, resulting in a massive fringe culture supernova bursting with the luminosity of a million memes feasting on one another, then look no more. Bird Jesus, a Twitch Plays Pokemon-themed Flappy Bird clone for iOS and Android, is the answer to our prayers, a mash-up of two of the weirdest, most unexplainable and organically popular Web phenomenons to ever grace the sites of mainstream news outlets.

To people who only casual monitor the happenings on the Web -- let alone the deeper, darker, stranger depths of online tech culture -- the attention given to Flappy Bird and Twitch Plays Pokemon is hard to articulate. The former is the addictive smartphone sensation that enthralled play-hungry screen tappers last month, while the latter is an ongoing social experiment carried out on game-streaming site Twitch.tv, now onto its second generation of play-throughs of the classic Game Boy series that crowdsources button commands from tens of thousands of players simultaneously.

Throw the two together and you have Bird Jesus. It's an alarmingly well-made Flappy Bird riff from a company called Go Barcelona Startups SL that joins the dozens upon dozens of clones released in the wake of the original's demise. After creator Dong Nguyen yanked the title from the iOS App and Google Play Stores last month in search of some peace of mind, a new clone was popping up as frequently as every 24 minutes, and two currently sit in the top 10 of free iOS apps.

Bird Jesus' elaborate introductory cover art shows that this is no run-of-the-mill Flappy Bird clone. Screenshot by Nick Statt

Like its Flappy brethren, Bird Jesus is free but employs banner ads to juice you for some revenue. Using the exact mechanics of Flappy Bird with some fantastically detailed Pokemon-themed artistic nods, it's by far one of the most polished clones out there.

You play as the titular character, a representation of the Pokemon Pidgeot that -- through a process that a sociology student could likely write an entire research paper on someday and probably will -- came to symbolize a religious figure, Bird Jesus, in Twitch Plays Pokemon's expansive in-game narrative. Adding to the aesthetic is a Helix imprint in the background and a mention of the "anarchy" and "democracy" game mode lore now part of Twitch Plays Pokemon's canon.

To attempt to explain the communal narrative of Twitch Plays Pokemon in a nutshell is an ultimately fruitless effort, but one can try. Emblematic of the Internet's tendency to perpetuate something well beyond any single individual's original intentions, the focus on Bird Jesus, the Helix Fossil, and the sprawling cast of characters and backstory crafted around the stream is a completely participant-generated phenomenon. It sprouted from a desire to keep the stream interesting and to create a sense of community. It's shared mainly through Reddit and the power of fan artwork and memes, and will likely continue for as long as the stream persists .

For more on Twitch Plays Pokemon's bizarre religious plot, see here, here, and here.

As far as in-app features go, Bird Jesus ups the clone quality ante a bit here by letting you unlock as a playable character Bird Jesus' counterpart, the Pokemon Zapdos who naturally took on the moniker "Battery Jesus." That however requires achieving the unholy score of 100, a feat that few were willing to sacrifice their sanity to accomplish in the original Flappy Bird. You can also purchase the character, though the button appears to be broken right now, at least on iOS.

So if anything you just read hasn't made you question how deep down the rabbit hole we are here, then you're probably safe from the uncontrollable pull of Flappy Bird clones and Twitch Plays Pokemon spinoffs. For the rest of us, Bird Jesus just might be the one clone to draw us back into the mindless lull of bird flying, score earning, and screen tapping that seemingly has no end in sight, neither in-game nor in the collective Web conscious.

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About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

 

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