They've been thrown, they've been flown, they've been shot, and now they're being fried - match-three puzzle game Bird Zapper! cooks up action-packed gameplay that's fresh and fun.
By building on match-three mechanics with a constantly moving field of play and an array of power-ups, Bird Zapper! offers something new in a genre filled with stale efforts. Good use of network features and a decent slate of modes give it lasting value too.
Matching three or more birds of the same variety is your goal, though it's made tricky by the fact that they're always on the move.
Things kick off with three power lines, with a fourth and fifth line added as you progress in the main Survival mode. While the extra lines make it easier to find matches, it's surprisingly challenging keeping track of so many birds flying across the screen.
An energy gauge at the bottom of the screen signifies how much electricity remains in the round, which is critical to staying in the game in Survival mode and extends your session when playing in the time-limited Blitz mode. Popping 1,000 birds nets you a battery that replenishes your energy - alternatively, you can buy them via in-app purchase.
It's an unnecessary element and feels especially tacked on given the in-app purchase option. The strength of the core gameplay mechanics and smattering of power-ups provide enough activity that managing an energy gauge seems too much. It doesn't harm the experience - it's just superfluous.
The frequent power-ups do well in mixing up the match-three play. Although some are predictable - ice blocks that freeze birds on the screen, dynamite capable of blasting several birds in one swoop - there are original power-ups too.
For example, there's the military bird that places a target on all birds of the same breed, which you tap to clear them from the screen. The joker bird dazes all the birds on the screen, allowing you to slow down or speed up their movement by tilting your device.
Learning when to deploy these power-ups to maximise your matches and point haul gives the game a tactical tinge.
Not only is the gameplay tight, but it's packed with little details like the ability to toggle tiles behind the birds to make them easier for matching. Fast-moving gameplay, integration with Game Center for a bit of replay value, and colourful graphics make Bird Zapper! fun to play, but what truly sets it apart is the polish.