Nintendad

[Review] Songbird Symphony – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Joysteak Studios
  • Publisher: PQube
  • Release Date: 25/07/2019
  • Price: £13.99 / $16.99
  • Review code provided by: PQube

Soaring Its Way Onto the Switch

Songbird Symphony has been in development for a while. During this time, the hype has soared, this game quickly became one of those indie games that people just can’t wait for; that wait is finally over, did the game hit all the right notes?

Songbird Symphony is a 2D platformer and rhythm game developed by Joysteak studios. In this game you play as Birb, despite living in a village of peacocks, Birb belongs to a different species and can’t help but feel that he doesn’t belong; this longing to find his true home begins his adventure to find his parents.

His first step is to visit the wise old owl in the forest, owl agrees to help him, but requires Birb to learn the song of each of the different avian species. After all, the only way to find his parents is through the power of music. Thankfully, Birb has a knack for learning new notes, a skill which is usually very hard to master. The story of Songbird Symphony is a traditional one, much in the vein of ‘the ugly duckling’, it is a story about being unique and different. A story about accepting yourself and others who may or may not be what you expect.

Up… Up… Up Up

The platforming gameplay is about what you would expect of a game like this, it is competent but nothing special. Where the game really shines is in its rhythm gameplay. While it can take some getting used to, there are a variety of different rhythm styles at play in this game, each one is unique, engaging, and has just enough challenge to not feel lacking. Since the goal of this game is to explore and learn different notes, there is a noticeable difficulty increase as you progress. Starting with only up on the d-pad allows for a gentle introduction to the mechanics, but the difficulty quickly spikes when you unlock additional buttons.

Progressing in this game is done by solving various platforming and rhythm puzzles and challenges, the game does a good job of easing you in and not making things feel overwhelming. Boss battles in this game are great, they make use of varied styles of rhythm gameplay and manage to be intense and very enjoyable. The solid gameplay coupled with the charming, emotional story really made me want to keep playing, some nights I played much later than I should have.

A Chirp and a Dance

Songbird Symphony makes use of pretty pixel art throughout. While it is not the most beautiful pixel art i’ve ever seen, it is still of a high quality and fits the tone set by the game well. Some of the environments can be a little repititious and confusing, making it easy to get a little lost, but overall they are of a very high standard.

Now onto audio, as a rhythm-platformer, you would expect the game to have good audio, and i’m pleased to report that for the most part it does. The music in the different areas of the forest is simple, but unique; the background music starts with a basic melody, but this can be added to by interacting with the world and solving puzzles – at one point I knocked some apples from a tree, adding a drum beat to the background music as the apples hit the ground. The sound effects are great, they make the controls feel responsive, without being at all intrusive.

The main dialogue of the game is set to a musical melody, this detail really brings everything together for me. It gives the dialogue impact and provides an identity to the world and it’s inhabitants, at times it was done so well that I couldn’t help but sing along in my head.

Birds and Bugs

My time with this game was largely issue free, the only thing I experienced of note was platforms unloading before going off screen at times, nothing game breaking, but it did make the game feel a little unpolished. Other than that, there were no other issues of note. In both docked and handheld the game ran perfectly well.

Does It Fly or Fall from the Nest?

I have to say, I had a great time with Songbird Symphony, the game was charming and enjoyable. Solid platforming and fun rhythm mechanics came together to create a well rounded gameplay experience. The story is emotional and, regardless of being a little generic in its overall concept, does enough new things to really stand as its own thing. Despite a few minor issues, the game is a great fit on the switch and you are sure to enjoy every step of Birb’s adventure.

Pros

  • Solid platforming
  • Enjoyable and consistent rhythm mechanics
  • Charming pixel art
  • Fitting sound design
  • Emotional and engaging story

Cons

  • Some platforms disappear before going off screen
  • A few environments can be a little repetitive

Verdict
Songbird Symphony is a wonderful labour of love, and one that almost anybody is sure to enjoy.
4.5/5

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