Fledgling Heroes – Review
Follow Genre: Platformer
Developer: Subtle Boom Pty Limited
Publisher: Subtle Boom Pty Limited
Platform: Switch, iOS
Tested on: Switch

Fledgling Heroes – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Eye-pleasing aesthetics
Bad: Virtually no story
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Bird-themed platformer Fledgling Heroes came out on iOS a couple of months ago and has now made its way onto the Switch. The colorful graphics and cute character designs certainly stand out, but does the game have anything to offer gameplay-wise, or is it just an updated Flappy Bird ripoff?

Story

There is a strange disparity between Fledgling Heroes’ characterful designs and its story: there’s a lot of potential to this world, with bird characters that are filled with personality and pirate lizards that just scream for a fleshed-out world. Unfortunately, the story is never properly explored. At the beginning of the game, there’s an amazing-looking intro animation, and moments later you are greeted by protagonist parrot Biscuit’s father as he explains how to flap. Unfortunately, we never learn about the backstory of these characters -or their motivations. This is likely a direct result of the game being developed as a mobile game originally as the game was designed for quick pick-up-and-play sessions rather than sucking you into the story. It’s a shame that the personalities of these characters never get the chance to shine. 

Graphics

Fledgling Heroes is an absolutely gorgeous-looking game. The character designs for each of the six birds are charming and the game is filled with tiny details that further bring these characters to life. The animations are just beautiful and the use of pastel colors gives the game a timeless quality and colorful atmosphere that looks cartoonish but avoids the use of colors that are too bright. It would have been easy to go for primary colors instead, to emphasize the cartoony nature of the game, but the game narrowly avoids garish colors that scream ‘kiddy game’. You are free to customize the colors of each of the birds too. You can come up with your own designs, in a simple but fun color studio, but alternate color schemes are also available to pick up throughout the levels. 

Sound

There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the sound design. The music is suitable but forgettable and can get a bit repetitive. Everything else sounds exactly as generic as you’d expect from this kind of game, especially seeing how it is a mobile port. Of course, most people play their mobile games with the sound turned off so it makes sense that the music and sounds were an afterthought, and we wouldn’t expect the game to be reorchestrated for a Switch port, but it did leave us a bit underwhelmed as a result. 

Gameplay

To be honest, our expectations for Fledgling Heroes’ gameplay weren’t very high. A platform game where you guide a bird through an obstacle course by pressing a single button to flap its wings? We were expecting a Flappy Bird clone with a new coat of paint. Once we got to grips with the game, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a lot more to the game than one might expect at first glance. Given the bird theme and the nature of the mechanics, the comparison to Flappy Bird is easy to make but it’d be unfair to Fledgling Heroes to dismiss it so easily. The game features dozens of short courses (as well as a couple of endless ones) and these offer variety in both gameplay and theming as well.

The overworld map is reminiscent of the Mario series, as you make your way across a map with branching pathways and are able to return to previously played stages. Some of the stages require golden feathers to access. These can be earned by either directly grabbing them in the courses, or by completing simple objectives. Although you’ll need a set number of feathers to unlock a stage, they’re not consumed when you use them, so you only have to worry about your total feather count and not about deciding whether to spend x number of feathers to unlock a certain route. 

As for the stages themselves, they’re relatively short affairs that usually won’t take you more than a minute to clear, allowing you to breeze through the game should you wish. The challenge here lies in the objectives: some stages will reward you for bouncing a certain number of times, others will ask you to grab a number of items or defeat enemies. Most of the stages cannot be fully cleared in a single run either, as they have branching pathways with different rewards depending on how you clear a level. This increases replayability and emphasizes just how well crafted the game is. By shifting the focus from one objective to another, and clever stage design, the game feels more varied than it is, given that the core mechanics never truly change. Slight gameplay variations do occur, as each of the six birds adds their own little twist to the game: Penny the Penguin is a flightless bird, for example, and her levels will take you underwater. 

Fledgling Heroes also manages to strike a decent balance between being a challenging game and an accessible game. Seasoned gamers will likely find that completing the game is on the easier side of the spectrum, although obtaining every golden feather might prove to be a bit more challenging. Additionally, there’s a couple of endless levels for those that can’t get enough of the game. There’s tons of stuff to collect apart from the feathers, including alternate color schemes for each of the game’s avian heroes. When it comes to these -or any other collectible for that matter- the game is quite generous: if you pick something up, it’s yours, even if you die subsequently. You don’t need to reach a checkpoint or complete the level to keep a collectible or golden feather, so feel free to kamikaze yourself into any item you want. The game is further fleshed out by a level editor, allowing you to design your own challenges and share them with your friends. It’s a neat little addition, even if it feels a bit tacked on and unnecessary. 

Conclusion

With its gorgeous graphics and pick-up-and-play mechanics, Fledgling Heroes is easy to recommend. The Switch version feels somewhat lacking due to the absence of a fleshed-out story and the music feeling quite generic. These flaws are the result of the game being designed as a mobile game originally. Still, there is a lot on offer here, especially for the low price. Although it’s available on iOS, we do still recommend going for the Switch version, as not only do you get the benefit of having physical buttons instead of tapping a touch screen, but the game’s graphics really come into their own on a TV screen rather than on your iPhone. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Fledgling Heroes - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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