The amount of sheer joy that is possible to derive by simply playing as something other than a boring human in a game is undeniable. From a shark with chomping jaws to a dog with a sniffing nose, the joy is tantamount and always 10x better than manipulating the haggard legs of a crappy human body around on the screen. The screech-inducing wonder that can be had merely by realizing that your input is controlling an ostrich and making it do hilarious ostrich-y activities, such is the case with Ostrich Island, is overwhelming to me.
There’s no mockery or snark at play here; I bloody love Ostrich Island! I think part of what originally drew me into games was being able to actually play – not shoot or otherwise maim – interesting creatures, and often in a ganky, awkward way that somehow made the experience much better. Pure comedy is what it was, and the gaming market being what it is today, most kids playing games probably aren’t that interested in playing as an animal and just relishing in that fact, but I was, and apparently still am.
“Ostrich Island is a mix between an adventure (explore beautiful islands and search for collectibles) and a platformer (jump over dangerous waters, run and kick different objects), with a slight hint of role-playing game (level up and gain new abilities).”
As I sunk that ostrich’s head in the yellow sand, as it sprinted around the island in the most stiff fashion and as it stood proudly in the sun with its little sailor hat proudly placed on its head, I felt this childish eruption of magnificent laughter bubble up inside me. And this is why you need to check the game out for yourself and purchase it so that the developer can make it even better for its release in March, apparently. If you want to try out an extensive demo, you can play Ostrich Island in your browser; otherwise there’s a more limited downloadable demo to grab.
Birds Of A Feather
I’ve probably never admired the ganky grace of as ostrich before, these large birds that lay huge eggs and sprint around as if they were modern day raptors. Their life most likely doesn’t involve running around tropical islands trying to escape the ever-rising tide while collecting eggs and hats, but I’m going to take Ostrich Island’s word for it. So here’s how your supreme ostrich simulator starts off – you have your head buried in the sand, naturally, but should make haste if you want to get the biggest score and avoid getting your feathers wet. You don’t have to play in this time-based mode as there’s a more relaxing version that just allows you to explore at will, but if you do want some panic in your life, then it comes in two different speeds also. The mode you select does affect your score on the online leaderboards – that’s the only other major difference.
Other than that, you have a series of islands to hop around on kicking things. And trust me; there are plenty of things to kick. Treasure chests, trees, statues, pots and bridges, to name just a few. Mostly you’ll be using your foot to break things open to find a hidden egg or a part of a treasure map, but sometimes you are treated to more of the game’s finicky physics as you attempt to kick a tree in a particular direction so you can use it as a bridge over a gap. It’s not as unreliable as you might think, actually; I’ve always had a way of crossing the gap, so maybe there’s an algorithm in there somewhere that ensures you always have a way to progress.
On top of kicking things, you’ll also want to do further exploration on each island as you can find, most importantly, a range of grand hats for your ostrich to adorn. This really kicks things up a notch. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is more fine than watching an ostrich strut around wearing a bloody hat atop its head. I almost want to do those mini claps that you’re forced to do when excitement wells up inside you and needs releasing through some fast motion (keep your dirty minds away!). Seriously, in love with this game is what I am – in love!