What do iOS developers have against our avian friends?

Rovio has made its fortune hurling them from catapults at malevolent pigs, and now Namco Bandai would have you believe they deserve to be electrocuted for having the gall to perch on telegraph wires.

It's not the first time, of course. The original Bird Zapper! had you drawing a crackling line of electricity between three or more like-coloured birds to remove them from play, and that core idea remains in this follow-up.

It fails, however, to add anything meaningful to the recipe, and even has a few new problems.

It's not your volt

It has adopted a new art style, for starters, which looks a little smoother and slicker than the original, but lacks a little of its crisp, cartoonish character. The rounder bird models, meanwhile, ensure that chains are harder to make - it seems easier to accidentally tag a different coloured bird while tracing the line between them.

Bird Zapper: Seasons also seems fussier about the connections you make - on occasion you'll make a zigzag pattern between five or six birds and remove your finger only to find that the move inexplicably didn't register. The lack of any tangible feedback only exacerbates that problem.

As ever, you need to clear a certain number of birds to finish a stage, and that number increases as you progress. However, you can sometimes be left waiting for the birds you need. You might have cleared the reds and blues, but that's no guarantee that you'll see three greens come along as the clock ticks closer to zero.

Beak chic

Thankfully, you can use the feathers you've collected from matching golden birds to pay for items that smooth out the steep difficulty curve. There's a zapper that connects all onscreen combos with a simple tap, and an ice cube that freezes the birds in place.

Alternatively, you can spend your feathers on more permanent perks, like increasing the length of your energy meter or the range of the explosive bomb birds. You can even use alchemy to make regular birds drop golden feathers.

Thanks also to mission objectives that gradually increase your score multiplier, you'll begin to make swifter progress - at least in theory. The problem is that you'll almost certainly have to invest real money to be able to afford any of these upgrades.

Pecky thump

Until you've picked up some of these boosts, progress is painfully slow. You could play ten games in a row and not have enough feathers to afford anything but the cheapest item in the shop.

A slot machine grants you extra bonuses (assuming you're lucky enough to get a line) but it's a token gesture: if you want to play past the first six or seven stages, you'll have to spend or be extremely patient.

The biggest problem with Bird Zapper: Seasons is that it struggles to justify its existence. Beyond debatable cosmetic improvements - the changing backdrops are the only evidence of the seasonal theme - it's very similar to its predecessor, but tougher and less immediately satisfying.

As such, it feels like more a contractual obligation than a full-fledged follow-up. At its core it's still a fun match-three puzzler, but we'd sooner recommend the original over this half-hearted sequel.