By now most gamers have already had their fill of Flappy Bird, the mobile title that broke onto the scene, generated a surprising amount of backlash, and then disappeared. It's one of the stranger stories to have come around in recent weeks, and it focused on a game that was extremely popular but almost universally disliked. As the game's developer Dong Nguyen puts it, the simultaneous success and hate for Flappy Bird were too much to bear, and so he thought it better to nip the whole thing in the bud.
Unfortunately, deleting Flappy Bird from the iOS and Android app store meant those gamers who were curious will never know the joys (we use that term loosely) that the game offers. But, there are still titles, better known as endless runners, that we think not only scratch the same itch but are also much better games. Check out our list of the 5 games that are better than Flappy Bird.
Cave Runner is an endless runner that most will recognize by its aesthetic and gameplay, but few actually know the name of. Most just call it the helicopter game, and that's enough.
When it comes to time-killers on the PC, there were a handful of titles that rose above the rest and Cave Runner was one of them. Players do their best to navigate a helicopter past a series of obstacles by either increasing or decreasing the craft's altitude. Hold down to go up, or release to go down. Much like Flappy Bird, Cave Runner isn't as much about reflexes as it is about a basic understanding of the game's particular speed and momentum.
Check out Cave Runnerhere.
Jetpack Joyride is what some will consider the "cool" endless runner on the list — the title that those who enjoy the genre can play without fear of judgment. So while grandma or Aunt Suzie can claim they are addicted to Flappy Bird, you can feel better knowing that your endless runner has jetpacks, robots, and ray guns.
Like later entries in endless runner genre, Jetpack Joyride adds a few additional hooks to keep players going, namely a currency system for purchasing new upgrades. That way, even the most pathetic of runs still deliver a sense of accomplishment, ensuring that the player never comes away empty handed. But really it's the bullet-spewing jetpack that makes this game worth playing.
Download Jetpack Joyride for iOS or Android.
Robot Unicorn Attack
Developed by the brilliant minds at Adult Swim Games, Robot Unicorn Attack is an endless runner that favors style above everything else. Even a cursory look at the game is enough to prove that. It's also surprisingly complex, as players must learn to balance their jump and dash moves in order to break stars and cross large chasms.
What makes Robot Unicorn Attack stand out in our mind, however, is the music. The choice of "Always" by Erasure is simply inspired, and goes a long ways towards the game's longevity. Even if you fail within the first few minutes of the game, you want to keep playing at least until the chorus plays. Sure, Robot Unicorn Attack is a little unconventional in its design, but it's a great endless runner.
Download Robot Unicorn Attack for iOS or Android.
Some might argue that the recent endless runner craze started with Canabalt, Adam Saltsman's Flash-based title. In fact, Canabalt is even credited as the first entry in the genre, even if that isn't entirely true. Unlike most of its competition, Canabalt gets by with a single input and a very basic aesthetic and design. That doesn't undermine the title's appeal, however, as the music alone is enough to make this title worth playing.
In truth, there would be no Flappy Bird without Canabalt, so we recommend giving the game a try just for posterity's sake. But once you do, good luck putting it down.
Download Canabalt for iOS or Android.
If Canabalt is the title that established the endless runner genre then Temple Run is the game that perfected it. It's also the most popular title in the genre, to boot.
Where titles like Canabalt and Jet Pack Joyride keep things relatively simple, Temple Run seeks to add as much nuance — if you can call it that — as possible. Rather than a simple jumping mechanic, Temple Run adds sliding, turning, and leaning into the equation, making sure the player's reflexes are tested at nearly every turn, and it even has its own currency system. Like all the titles on this list, Temple Run is exceedingly addictive and a fantastic time-killer. We highly recommend Temple Run 2 as well.
Download Temple Run for iOS or Android.
There you have it, five games that deliver a similar experience to Flappy Bird but are much better games. Each offers a different spin on the endless runner genre, but all, ultimately, scratch a very similar itch. They're great for a little competition among friends or as a simple time-waster. And most importantly they can all be had for less than than $1.
But what about you: which game in the endless runner genre is your favorite? Will you miss Flappy Bird now that it's gone? Let us know in the comments below.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina