The original Fowlst was an oddity. It trapped an owl in hell “for some reason”, and in the framework of a high-octane arena shooter helpfully left said owl unarmed. The poor bird therefore had to headbutt its way to freedom. If that sounds good, your cluck’s in, because Super Fowlst takes that basic premise and runs with it.
Unlike the original’s single-screen challenges, Super Fowlst is more expansive, with larger scrolling levels that look like someone sneaked a SNES into your iPhone. This design offers far more scope for surprises, mixing up frenetic moments of demon-splatting, occasional considered puzzling bits, and your ongoing mission to ensure your bird doesn’t become an ex-chicken.
The controls are what makes Super Fowlst unique, and are entertaining and annoying in equal measure. Tap the left-hand side of the screen and the bird flaps leftwards in an arc; tap the right-hand side and it flaps rightwards.
It feels like Silly Walks in fast-forward, or a drunken Flappy Bird, as you zig-zag about. Given that most videogame characters are perfectly capable of moving in a straight line, this takes some getting used to.
But then chaos is the heart of Super Fowlst. You start off unarmed, and so must nut enemies to get rid of them. The procedurally generated levels are peppered with everything from detonating crates to components from pinball tables. Even when you try taking things slow, to keep hold of your precious three lives for as long as possible, chances are a bumper or explosion will fling you at a herd of furious laser-spewing demons.
Things can get frustrating. The bosses, in particular, outmatch the tiny chicken in a manner that feels a little unfair. The first is a big critter inside a crate – a crate with three massive saw-blades attached to movable arms.
You can sort of get your own back by arming your chicken in a different way, with explosive eggs or rockets it shoots out of its bottom. But these cost cash, and levelling up is painfully slow. I get that developers want to keep you playing (or watching ads), but when you blaze through a dozen games and barely collect enough cash for a single bit of kit, that feels miserly.
Still, although Super Fowlst has the capacity to make you yell “CLUCK!” (or something similar) on a regular basis, its oddball charm, smart level design, sense of character, and breezy gameplay keep you coming back for more. Just don’t write into Stuff if your iPhone goes for a little flight of its own after a particularly frustrating death.