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Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge through over 90 flapping levels as you control six different birds on a mystical adventure. Fledgling Heroes is Subtle Boom’s debut title and with it originally releasing on Apple Arcade back in October 2019, it has finally made its way onto Nintendo Switch. However, mobile titles aren’t always received well when they make the jump to console.

Gameplay

At first, Fledgling Heroes may seem like a standard side-scrolling flapping bird game that resembles a one-hit-wonder mobile wonder, but it does a great job at adding more to differentiate itself from its many knockoffs. With an overworld map, six different birds that each have their own unique style of gameplay, various objectives (e.g. rescuing a bunny or knock out two lizards) and collecting Feathers to unlock doors, Fledgling Heroes expands on this genre that not many have deemed it important enough to do so.

For those arcade completionists out there, Fledgling Heroes has you covered. Each level has a certain number of coins to collect and up varying amounts of feathers that are either hidden or difficult to obtain. For the cause of accessibility to players of all ages, to earn a perfect score, you need to collect all coins in a single run, however collecting a feather once means that you don’t have to collect it again.

You can also obtain and unlock objects that you can then use in the Level Editor referred to as the Lab. This feature allows you to create your very own custom levels, expanding the game’s replayability and letting you stretch your creative muscles. You can select from the three different worlds that you play throughout the game on, the six different birds that you play as and four different game modes: Quest, Race, Endless and Boss. Using the controller to do this has you control a cursor with the joystick and, might I add, incredibly unintuitive. I would recommend does this in handheld mode with the touchscreen, however I had my gripes with doing it that way also; such as it being difficult to manoeuvre objects around and positioning things exactly the way you want. However, if you stick it out and get used to its nuances, then you can create some pretty spectacular levels – and play an ever-growing amount of levels, to boot!

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As the game originally released on mobile, Fledgling Heroes on Nintendo Switch can be played entirely with touchscreen controls, Joy-Cons detached and all. However, what with the majesty of the Switch and all, this game can be played however your want, from handheld mode using the Joy-Cons to on the big screen with a Pro Controller. One negative I do have to point out is that as this is a Switch port which can be played with a controller, the game lacks any form of rumble, which would’ve been nice at any capacity.

World / Level Design

I was incredibly impressed with what Subtle Boom were able to do with Fledgling Heroes‘ 90+ levels. The game is perfect for the Switch as each level can easily be beaten within 10-15 seconds, however many of them have multiple paths with collectibles down each one. Most levels feel unique given how the bird you control changes every 15 levels (approximately) but during longer play sessions, they have the tendency to blend in to one another.

The overworld took me by surprise, adopting a similar feel to the classic Super Mario Bros. 3 layout. This, too, has multiple pathways, allowing you to complete the adventure by taking a few different avenues. Fledgling Heroes encourages you to collect as many feathers as possible as these are used to unlock pathways, however this is made redundant when there’s nothing stopping you from going the alternate route, collecting the feathers there and then heading back and unlocking to the original roadblock.

Story

Fledgling Heroes plays out like a children’s picture book, with charming limericks to space out the gameplay and provide a flow of pace. At the beginning of each level, there are also two-lined rhymes; these can be simply deemed to be a cute gesture, but some actually give hints on what to expect in the level you are about to play.

Graphics / Art Direction

Continuing with the children’s storybook motif, Fledgling Heroes looks like it has been taken right out of one. The visuals are bright and colourful, with the line-patterned backgrounds especially standing out to me.

In the Lab, you can customise each bird character by recolouring them to your liking. Throughout various levels, you can find new colour palettes to expand your variety, encouraging further explanation and playing into the whole storybook motif (or perhaps even a colouring book).

Music / Sound Design

The soundtrack is happy and upbeat, adding to the game’s wonderful charm. When racing the dragons, the tempo is dramatically increased to create a sense of tension. The music rarely steers away from its jolly nature, knowing what its intended vibe to be and going all-in gung-ho.

Final Score: 78%

Fledgling Heroes surprised me with its colourful charm and personality, coupled with its gameplay that packed much more in than I had initially expected. It’s certainly limited in its scope, meaning that it’s never going to be on anyone’s radar for indie game of the year, but Fledgling Heroes proves that the team at Subtle Boom certainly have a lot of talent and a bright future ahead of them.

Thank you for checking out our Fledgling Heroes Switch review, thank you to Decibel-PR for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:

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Posted by Alex Harding

Lover of chocolate and admirer of video games, Alex is the chief writer/editor of Switchaboo.