By: Derek Yu

On: April 1st, 2010


Andy Moore’s SteamBirds is a Flash-based dogfighting game that’s set in alternate history versions of World War I and II, where planes are powered by nuclear power or some such. The game employs a kind of turn-based combat system that’s similar to Flotilla – the action is carried out in real-time but pauses at fixed intervals so that you can adjust your movements. Your planes will automatically shoot if they’re within range, so your main goal is to outmaneuver your opponents and use the special abilities of your planes at the right times. It’s really fun and the contributions from Danc (graphics and design), Danny Baranowsky (music), and Jordan Fehr (sound effects) make it a stand-out browser game.

My biggest complaint is that the game doesn’t go far enough. It’s a problem that I feel a lot of the Flash games I’ve played suffer from: by the time you get to the real meat of the game – the massive, knock-down drag-out battles with tons of planes – SteamBirds is already winding down toward a premature conclusion. At least there are a handful of bonus levels that extend the fun and let you play around with weapons that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into the main campaign.

Still, maybe it’s best that SteamBirds leaves me thinking of possibilities and wanting more. Andy has even been kind enough to reveal the numbers behind the project: everything from how the development was split to how he chose his sponsor, Armor Games (and for how much). Nice!

TIGdb: Entry for SteamBirds

  • Dugan

    I found the game much more fun (and challenging) on the 2nd play through, when trying to get perfect (no hits) scores on each map.

    The difficulty level seems balanced more towards that approach than if you are just trying to unlock the next level and not caring about plane hits.

    Fun game though – and there’s lots of scope to expand on.

  • Tomborough

    I wonder if author would be willing to make a game with almost exactly the same mechanics, but in 3D and with giant robots…i’d love to make some art for a project like that.

  • raigan

    Every time someone reviews this game without mentioning Sean O’Connor’s “Critical Mass”, God kills a puppy.

  • Alehkhs

    oh man… the O’Connor games…

    Freshman year…

  • davidp

    Great game!

  • negative zero

    Very cool concept. there’s a lot of potential in this.

  • Ezuku

    It’s fun, but isn’t this a bit old? I seem to recall playing this a while ago. It’s fun, but it gets a bit repetitive, and a few of the last few missions rely entirely too heavily on poison. I wish they expanded the concept a bit more, rather than being too repetitive. Eg… flying wing in 1 mission, flying wing + 2 fighters in the next.

  • Figger

    Andy Moore has said (in email conversation) that he has planned for some things to come (more in-depth stuff) so I think this is a good start for a really great game!

  • contra

    One of the best flashgames I’ve played. Great concept and excellent UI.

    Would love to see this grow into a fullblown “real” game. Multiplayer would be awesome.

  • salade

    great concept, and great game, I’ve been playing this for a while. I wonder if the length is limited by file size. After all, this is appearing as an html element.

  • Andy Moore

    The game is old, if you mean “less than a month”. :)

    But yes, this version of the game was fully intended as a “Minimum Viable Product” and is not intended to “go far” or “push the limits” of the gaming archetype.

    It is merely a marketing tool to drive people to the eventual massively-multiplayer persistent-world online-warzone. (or so I hope)

    Spinoff version released in a month or two with more to follow.

  • red
  • jrjellybeans

    I’ve heard a lot about this game.

    It’s good that it’s getting some TIG love!

  • gnome

    Excellent and pretty unique mechanics in this one, thus making it absolutely TIGSource worthy.

  • Cycle

    It’s actually not that unique… in fact, it’s a direct rip-off of the Over The Reich series, which I played the hell out of back on the Mac… it’s nice to see this come out from it.

  • eldorado1239

    Aah, that's it! Over The Reich! I knew it's a ripoff right after seeing the screenshot, but couldn't remember. Did the author give the original some credit somewhere…?

  • cat

    There is a video of Andy Moore giving a postmortem on SteamBirds: