Another addictive game from Vietnam

There have been hundreds of Flappy Bird clones out ever since the simple game topped the charts across the world. Although there’s been some innovation on the original concept from the creator Dong Nguyen’s dotGEARS company like Mr. Flap or Freaking Math, most games have stuck to the original ‘creature goes through pipes’ format. But new games are still coming out of Vietnam – such as School Cheater, 1Path, Chien Binh, Sky Garden and more – indicating that this country has a vibrant gaming community. Vietnam’s capital is home to Dong Nguyen, and it’s where many strong Vietnamese mobile gaming studios take up residence.

And now comes Wing Up, an iOS and Android game that takes inspiration from Flappy Bird and Nintendo. It was created by Tung Hoang, an unknown developer based out of Hanoi. Wing Up basically uses the same key principles of mobile gaming as Flappy Bird. Many of the more simple one-off mobile games we see today follow in these footsteps, so it’s worth noting them here briefly:

♦ One tap for action: This, unlike other more complex games like Horn, Oceanhorn and Bastion make the barrier to entry for new gamers very low.

♦ One level: This makes it so that the game is boiled down to the most basic question: can you do it or not? It also makes it easy to pass your mobile to someone else so they can continue your game or play a new one.

♦ Very easy to replay: One of the key things dotGEARS did was make it extremely easy to restart Flappy Bird. Although it was frustrating when the bird died, restarting was instant. This also made it easy to spend hours on a game that took less than a minute to play.

♦ Simplified retro graphics: Flappy Bird is certainly not a pioneer of retro games on mobiles. Long before Flappy Bird hit the scene, many mobile games used old-school graphics. This is a motif that all the clones and admirers have taken on.

♦ Mobile ads: Especially for Vietnamese developers, one of the biggest lessons from the success of Flappy Bird is that there is some serious money to be made from mobile ads. After all, Dong Nguyen was reportedly making over USD50,000 a day from Flappy Bird.

Each of these principles can be found on Wing Up, which puts its own spin on a bird flying through space concept. Wing Up brings two taps to the Flappy Bird world. Instead of flying horizontally, the bird flies upwards through the sky, much like other vertical platformers. In addition to pipes, the bird has to swerve around blocks as well. The game isn’t much harder than Flappy Bird. Arguably, it’s easier. The biggest difference between the two games is that Wing Up requires both thumbs to play because the bird must flap left and right to traverse the blocks. The blocks resemble the bricks that Mario had to navigate through in Nintendo’s flagship game. Where Flappy Bird took artistic liberties from the green pipes, Wing Up takes them from the brown blocks. But at its core, both these games are quite different. Wing Up just employs some of the core principles that Flappy Bird made popular and gives us a new take on birds flying through space.

Full disclosure: I have played hours of Wing Up to finally achieve 32 points, which once ranked me among the top 15 in the world.

Anh Minh-Do is the editor at TechinAsia.com for Vietnam, focusing on technology startups, trends and companies. Minh is on the board of Starthub.vn – a database and forum for startups dedicated to the growth of Vietnam’s business ecosystem.