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Backlog Review | Songbird Symphony

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I take a look at the adorable and musically inclined Songbird Symphony by JoySteak Studios!!

No Cold Shoulders

Have you ever tried to march to the beat of your own drum, only to be faced with sideways glances and the cold shoulder? Not everyone understands your musical joviality, you get that. What if I told you there’s a world where it’s denizens speak only in song? A world that’s so cute and fuzzy that the phrase “cold shoulder” couldn’t possibly exist, because they have soft down covered wings, not shoulders. 

Well my dear backloggers, I think you’ll fit right in, because this time around on The Backlog Odyssey, I’m taking a look at the game that’s so cute you’ll need those catchy beats to jumpstart your love stricken heart, Songbird Symphony! So, calibrate your metronome and totes your adorbs, because it’s time for another Backlog Review!!

A Fluffy Passion

Songbird Symphony is a musically inclined 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer developed by Joysteak Studios and released in 2019! Which sounds like your standard run of the mill ordeal, but what sets this game apart from other 2D platformers, is it’s inclusion of rhythm elements primarily in the form of “repeat-after-me” boss fights. What this means is that your opponent will recite a sequence of buttons, timed to a specific beat, and it’s your job mimic the pattern. 

When Joysteak Studios first started development on Songbird Symphony, it was their goal to create a game that could be played by anyone, young or old, and would embrace the family friendly nature of a Disney movie. Including its musical qualities! Honestly, I would even say it went one step further, because it very much reminded me of the classic Disney games you’d find on the SNES and SEGA Genesis!

The Not So Ugly Happy Foot

In Songbird Symphony, you play as a tufted little gray bird name Birb, who has a knack for melodious rhythms but is also treated like the ugly duckling of the wood. After hatching from his egg in a village of Peacocks, Birb discovers that he’s not quite the same as everyone else, including his beloved uncle. For one, he’s not a Peacock, but he also has the urge to sing! Like all the time. So Bird sets out on a journey into the unknown to discover who he is and learn the cherished songs of his forest brethren.

The real question is, will Birb find where he belongs? Will he master the art of song? Well, it’s a Disney-esque game so probably so, but there’s only one way to find out!!!

Can’t Keep the Beat

First off, let me just say one thing about Songbird Symphony – It is excruciatingly adorable!! I mean, I can’t overstate that fact! Everything is so perfectly cuddly and colorful, with crisp, hand drawn pixel art that’s exceptionally animated and brings those nostalgia feels home! Then it’s all tied together with a heart warming soundtrack! From the moment I booted the game up, there was a big smile on my face, which isn’t surprising because Songbird Symphony is basically happiness in game form. I could even hear my wife in the background as she watched me play it, “oohing and ahhing” at the darling little birdies chirping and dancing as I passed them by.

Even the gameplay is charming, if not a bit simple. In each level you’ll encounter obstacles or you’ll be given tasks you’ll need to complete, which will add to the overall beat of the background music. Things like helping some chicks find their mother, or gathering ingredients to make a seafood stew. Then when you combine the tried and true platforming challenges it all  creates a wonderful and harmonious whole. Even though these challenges may be on the easy side and the little exploring you have to do to collect the hidden items throughout the world are completely optional, I found the game to be quite relaxing and fun to play! I never really thought twice about its difficulty.

That is until I hit the rhythm sections of the game. Sections that you are required to complete to progress. Now, I will say this, I’m not the greatest rhythm game player that ever existed, but I do enjoy the odd DDR session or two, but I just couldn’t get the hang of the rhythm mechanics in Songbird Symphony! It’s not that the music was terrible, or that the controls weren’t responsive or anything (though I did have trouble with that occasionally). What I actually think it was, was how the developers decided to present the button patterns to you. In some instances it was ok, and I could tell what I needed to press and when, but in others, it just seemed jumbled and too easy to lose track of what was coming next. That and the types of patterns changed too often, so you never really got used to using one, before it moved on to the next! Stuff some new buttons in there as well, and it’s a recipe for frustration!! Honestly, by the end, I was just hearing honks and out of tune trumpets more than I was actually hearing the music!!

Rhythm is All You Need

In the end, I’d still say that Songbird Symphony was a fun and enthralling game, that really hammered home that classic Disney game feel. It even included some interesting twists to the formula that truly made the game unique. And although I would have preferred to be able to telegraph the rhythm sections a little better, I’m not going to knock the game for that. Like I said, I’m no expert and with practice and I’m sure you could hit each note flawlessly. However, I will say it dampened my experience a bit.

Despite all that though, I can’t help but recommend you check Songbird Symphony out, even if it’s just so you can see little Birb dance!