Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Bird Week (Famicom Cart)

Eventually I was bound to come across a game that makes no sense and it should come as no surprise that it is a Famicom title. Browsing eBay one day I came across the Bird Week cartridge and went on to try and find out a bit more about it. From descriptions I could find the game is known as a bird life simulation game so with my curiosity peaked I had to import a copy.

I picked a cart up in rather good condition; the connectors didn’t even seem to require much cleaning besides a quick rub down with Ethanol. Costing just £2 and with several carts from the same seller the shipping costs were minimal so I felt I wouldn’t be losing much even if it was a bad game.

The first names to stand out on the title screen in plain text were EMI/Toshiba/Lenar I was greeted by a plain blue title screen. To say 3 companies created the game you would think they could have at least made some effort on the title screen even if it was only 1986. I promised I wouldn’t judge so soon for the price so decided to get started. Faced with 2 choices Game Start and Study Game I went for the first wondering just what I would find.

Controlling a blue sparrow you have full movement around a scrolling screen which consists of a field, several flying bugs, hawk, and a tree with nest and baby sparrows. Using the pad moves the sparrow quite quickly up, down, left and right with either button causing the legs to squirm. The squirming legs as I call them allow the sparrow to grab mushrooms or rocks and drop them onto the hawks head. Knocking it to the ground and stunning the poor thing for long enough to catch several bugs without being pestered. The whole game involves catching bugs to feed to the baby sparrows that then fly away once they are well fed. I presume this is the life simulation part of the game because once they leave you begin the whole process from scratch in a different area.

Each area has its own unique background from a dry autumn hue, spring time green fields and even an ocean to fly over. A few new enemies do appear throughout each area the hawk is constantly flying back and forth whilst a cat spends time jumping from tree to tree, an unfriendly mole sticks his head out of the ground so it can become quite busy as you try to stay on top of things. You are given 3 lives so even if you are caught by the hawk there’s always chance to carry on.

I had a look at the Game Study option on the main menu but I couldn’t understand what it was meant to be about. It’s basically the game except you never leave the starting area and still feed the baby sparrows. With the study indicated I thought it might be a chance to watch the bug collecting without interaction but it’s just the same game seemingly looped. The whole game is more of a curio, there’s nothing really special here and I can hardly recommend it as anything more so if you want to experience some of that odd Japanese gaming culture then maybe this is the place to start.

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