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The search for an awesome Flappy Bird replacement

Now that Flappy Bird has been pulled from the app stores, I've put together a collection of knockoffs that get some things right, but mostly miss the mark.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
4 min read
Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird enjoyed phenomenal success in just over a week, only to be taken down from the App Store on Sunday.

The gaming concept for Flappy Bird couldn't be more simple. You simply tap your screen to flap as you guide your bird through the spaces between pipes to get a high score. Though it sounds simple, the game is surprisingly difficult, which is what got so many people addicted to trying to break their high scores. The graphics are not impressive, but the game has solid physics and just enough polish that you don't mind.

Unfortunately, if you didn't get the game while it was available, one of your only options is to download one of many knockoffs that have sprouted up, so I've put together a collection of Flappy copycats for iOS to fill the demand. None of them measure up to the original, but they are not completely without redeeming qualities. Here are some Flappy Bird replacements that I've ranked worst to best.

For those of you with Android phones, the copycat options are downright staggering.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Fly Birdie Flappy Bird Flyer currently sits atop the most popular free apps at the App Store, but if you've played the original, you'll know it's the name and not the gameplay that got people to download.

With this game, you get flat unimpressive graphics, a bird whose wings don't even have a flapping animation, and spaces between the pipes that are far too simple to fly through. I suppose if you found the original game too oppressively difficult, this might be an option, but it's not the best alternative in the App Store and it's not the best in this collection.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Ironpants is another game cashing in on Flappy Bird's success, but this time you're a flying superhero avoiding obstacles.

In this game, the controls are slightly different, letting you touch and hold to fly upward and let go to fly downward. This game is much harder than Flappy Bird, but it's mostly because the obstacles come so fast and the viewing distance is so small. When I played this copycat, I got frustrated very quickly with the control system and have been unable to get past more than a few obstacles before dying.

Surprisingly, Ironpants sits at No. 2 in the App Store Free apps list, which gives you some idea just how popular the original Flappy Bird really was.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Flappy Plane uses the same control system as Ironpants, letting you touch to ascend and let go to descend. If it's possible, this game has even flatter graphics than the games listed before it in this collection, with a plane that neither turns upward or downward as you fly, and random barricades that seemingly float in midair.

While the look isn't very appealing, the gameplay isn't a complete waste of your time, because (unlike Ironpants) the game is a little more forgiving with your viewing distance, making it possible to go for high scores.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Smarcle Flyer, to its credit, at least sticks with the flapping bird theme, but waters down the gameplay so much that it makes success far too easy. In this game, the spaces between obstacles are huge relative to your bird, so as long as you don't get bored, you could fly for a very long time.

The other element that sets it apart is that you are only scored on how long you can stay alive rather than how many obstacles you pass. Perhaps the developers thought the original game was a little too challenging, but I think they went a bit too far in simplifying it.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Flappy Bee is somewhat different in terms of gameplay, but the concept is still very similar. With this flappy knockoff there are no obstacles; instead your challenges are to pick up flowers (for nectar) and keep from flying off the screen. This one uses the "touch to ascend/let go to descend" control system as well.

Flappy Bee makes it bit more challenging by including "moons" that often sit close to the flowers, which make you fly faster. So, not only do you need to avoid the top and bottom of the screen; If you collect too many moons, you'll move farther forward in the playing area until you fly off the front of the screen, ending your game.

While it's not a direct copy of Flappy Bird with slightly different gameplay, it is moderately compelling, making it a worthwhile option if squeezing through obstacles doesn't appeal to you.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Splashy Fish is probably the closest you're going to get to the original Flappy Bird, with the same flapping mechanic, a similar backdrop, and a bird-like fish (?) as the protagonist.

With an underwater theme, Splashy Fish gets most of the concept right with randomized openings as you flap (swim?) your way between the obstacles. The physics feel about the same, but somehow not as solid. Still, if you're looking for a close approximation to Flappy Bird, this is probably your best bet for now.

The search goes on
Hopefully, as time wears on, either Dong Nguyen will have a change of heart about pulling Flappy Bird, or another developer will come out with a closer replica. But until then, the options are looking pretty bleak.