Review: Birds and Beans (DSI)

Birds and Beans
Genre: Action
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 04/05/09

Generally speaking, the DSi game download service has, so far, been a haven for stripped down ports and partial releases of older Nintendo titles with a few odds and ends thrown in. However, this isn’t actually as depressing a thing as it might sound. While it doesn’t seem like the world needed another version of Dr. Mario or Brain Age, these games have a certain appeal to them that will entice gamers, no matter how well-worn these products may be. On the other hand, there’s certainly a market for small time-wasting diversions that might not be amazing as full-priced releases, but as cheap budget games are fabulous diversions that are well worth the price. This is the case with Birds and Beans. As a game that started its life as a five second micro game in the Wario Ware series, you wouldn’t expect it to be worth a second look, but for two dollars, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable game that’s well worth the price for just about anyone.

Birds and Beans is actually two games in one. For your two dollars, you get Birds and Beans, which is a game where you play as a little red bird who eats falling beans, and Birds and Beans 2, where you play as a little yellow bird who spits seeds at falling beans. This doesn’t seem like a big distinction, but surprisingly enough, the games are just different enough to make this work. The core ideas are the same, but the gameplay mechanics are different in each of the games, which in turn changes HOW you play the games. It’s interesting that one simple gameplay change actually makes the two games fairly different. There’s nothing to the game aside from these two play modes, mind you, but for two dollars, this is by no means disappointing. To be honest, it’s surprising that even THAT much effort was put into the product, so thumbs up for that.

Birds and Beans is visually cute, if not technologically outstanding, as it’s very simplistic looking, though it’s very charming in its presentation. Your bird is pudgy and silly-looking, and the various seedlings that fall from the top of the screen look, well, like colorful seedlings. The game also has all sorts of little touches that make it look like more than just a budget downloadable game, like the leaves that are left behind when you shatter a seedling, which move around when you spit a seed in their direction. It’s still a very simplistic looking product, but it’s just cute and stylish enough to make that work. The audio is also quite simplistic, as there are only two music tracks and the sound effects, though fitting, are sparse. It works, and it’s perfectly fine for the product itself, but it’s not anything outstanding.

Birds and Beans is pretty simple to play; left and right on the D-Pad moves your bird, and the A button is used to assault the falling seedlings, depending on which mode you’re playing. Birds and Beans 1, your bird does this by extending his tongue as you hold the button down, and you receive more points the higher in the air his tongue hits the seedling. In Birds and Beans 2, your bird spits seeds at the seedlings to destroy them, which earns the same points no matter what. The two games play more or less identically, but the strategy for each is different; in Birds and Beans 1, you’ll have to time your attacks more and aim appropriately to earn the most points, while in Birds and Beans 2 you’ll just have to shoot and move around. You’ll be doing a lot of moving around, by the way, because you DO NOT want to let the seedlings hit you or the ground. Should the seedlings hit the ground, a hole opens up, meaning you can’t cross that space, and being trapped between two closely spaced holes can be problematic. Getting hit with a seedling, as you might expect, is instant Game Over, and you only get one life, meaning you want to avoid this outcome whenever possible in order to keep collecting points. To avoid becoming trapped forever, you can shoot white or flashing seedlings to keep yourself going. White seedlings replace one block on the ground, allowing you to move around a bit more than you could previously, while flashing seedlings replace numerous blocks AND wipe out ALL of the falling seedlings at the moment, and as such, are the most desirable seedlings to take out as soon as possible. Managing your shots, movement, and target priority would by themselves be simple enough, but of course the game speeds up the seedling drops as you continue to play, making a leisurely first few minutes into a hectic game of dodge and shoot the further you play into the game, which helps keep the game entertaining for more than one play.

Of course, this being a two dollar budget download, the standard complaints one would expect come along for the ride here. It’s a meager game with two play modes, you’ll see everything it has to offer in the first hour of play, the only point is to earn a high score, it’s very basic, and you’ve seen it all before. None of this is in any way meant to turn you off from the game in the least, as frankly, IT’S TWO DOLLARS, but these are the negatives of the game, and they should be noted.

Frankly, though, for two dollars, there’s very little you’ll be able to find on the market that’s as entertaining as Birds and Beans. The game is primitive and derivative, and it’s very meager in its offerings, but it’s also adorable in its design and, perhaps most importantly, IT’S FUN. Running around eating and shooting seedlings is a very enjoyable way to pass the time, and the game doesn’t wear out its welcome or feel stale in any way, and fans of old-school Space Invaders and Centipede style shooters will love this game a whole lot. It’s a cute, enjoyable time waster, and you’ll pay less for this than a cup of coffee, which really makes Birds and Beans one of the better titles available for download on the DSi.

The Scores:
Game Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Above Average
Sound: Mediocre
Control/Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Great
Balance: Great
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal: Great
Miscellaneous: Good


Short Attention Span Summary:
Birds and Beans is probably the best two dollars you’ll ever spend on a video game. It’s cute, simple, fun, and addictive, and the price is right for what it does. Both of the included games are just different enough to make them both worth playing, and the games do a good job of being simple in both design and implementation while still being hectic and challenging enough to keep you playing in bursts just to get that elusive “best high score”. The game is basic, limited and derivative, of course, and it’s a very small product in comparison to nearly all DS games in general, but frankly, for two dollars, it’s honestly inexpensive enough that this doesn’t matter. Anyone who enjoys time-wasting fun should check out Birds and Beans, as it’s frankly two dollars well spent, guaranteed.



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One response to “Review: Birds and Beans (DSI)”

  1. […] games that are already developed and simply flesh them out a bit. So, after the infectiously fun Birds and Beans, Nintendo is taking another crack at it with Paper Airplane Chase. Surprisingly, this time around […]

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