There's a lot of electronic ink being spilled over whether Flappy Bird is brilliant, or evil, a happy accident, and so forth. But that's not really what's important. All anyone cares about right now is how to get a decent score at this impossibly hard game so that they can finally put it down and move on with their lives.
My initial response to Flappy Birds was a giggle. You fall so fast, and die with so little fanfare that it really is laughable. This mirth quickly gave way to frustration. How could something so simple – so stupid – be so hard? Fear not, friends, for we have assembled seven tips that will up your game, and propel your Flappy Bird score to new heights. Like six, or something.
1. Slower is better
More tapping isn't always better in Flappy Bird, but your flappy bird falls so flapping fast that it's easy to overdo it. Flappy Bird is all about finding the right rhythm, so get used to a slower pace. This is especially true for the critical moment when you pass between pipes and score points. You move upward so quickly in this game that it's better to aim low and give yourself room to rise.
2. Let yourself fall
Though it often feels like you're fighting against gravity the whole game, never forget your real enemy: The game's developer. No, sorry, I meant the oncoming randomly placed pipes. I know those sudden drops towards bird-killing ground seem horrifying, but you'll need that burst of speed for when the openings suddenly change altitude.
Also, you're not going to be able to stay level. That's just how the game works. Find the Zen in a bobbing rhythm and remember these words from The Tick – "gravity is a harsh mistress."
3. Play on a tablet
This tip comes from this excellent YouTube video, and I know it's excellent because he gets up to, like, 70 something. Witchcraft!
Truth be told, I was sceptical tablets would make a difference and tried it for myself; first on a Nexus 7 and then on a full-sized iPad. The Nexus left me disappointed, but I nearly doubled my score on the iPad. So there might be something to this.
4. Stay calm
This might seem obvious, but it's really important. The more tense and stressed you get, the worse you're going to play. If you're really shooting for a high score, walk away from the game when you start feeling frustrated and come back refreshed. The time it took to set up the iPad in the above tip was probably as useful as the larger display when it came to getting me a better score.
5. No distractions
When you go to a movie or a play, you're encouraged to shut down your phone for a distraction-free viewing environment. Flappy Bird is the same as those lofty works of art: A single interruption can spell disaster. Be sure that your device isn't in the process of downloading a bunch of app updates. Also, consider placing your device in Airplane Mode lest you get a text from your mother begging you to please, please, please stop playing Flappy Bird. "We love you, son. We just want what's best for you." Nice try, mom. I know you're just trying to distract me so you can beat my Flappy Bird score.
6. Change your flap pattern
I know I've been talking about "finding your rhythm," but don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Games like this prey on you making the same mistakes over and over and over again. Part of embracing the game's brutal gravity is changing when you tap instead of repeating the same pattern ad nauseum. Be ready to adapt.
7. Sheer persistence
Practice doesn't make perfect in the world of Flappy Bird, but blind persistence might be worthwhile. You won't be learning the levels (since they're constantly changing) but lots of play will give you a better feel for the right rhythm. Again, I strongly recommend playing the game in fits and starts. Don't look for satisfaction each time you sit down with it. Play it, and then set the game aside. Then rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.
While I think these tips will certainly help you do better in Flappy Bird, I only have a top score of five. Interestingly, the folks over at IGN recommend that you simply install the game and immediately discard your phone. While I don't think they're right, I also don't think they're wrong.
Got your own tips? Know any good therapists to help Flappy Bird players recover emotionally? Think we should all just be playing Super Hexagon? Leave it in the comments.
UPDATE: Note that the game is no longer available for download, as of Sunday 17:00. See: Flappy Bird creator pulls the plug on his game. Those of you who have it can still play and keep trying to better those scores, though, have no fear...
You might also want to check out our closer look at piracy issues surrounding the pulled Flappy Bird app.