Non Flying Soldiers is a game that puts the lives of several fat, waddling bird soldiers into your hands. Your goal is to keep them safe while they make their run across the battlefield. There are many games like it, but this one is yours. Without your birds, you are useless. Without you, your birds are useless.
Non Flying Soldiers stretches several levels across three campaigns. Each level seems to be modeled after a child’s idea of a standard military obstacle course, complete with cardboard and tiny hazards. It’s a wonder there aren’t any bonus levels wherein ants are forced to run from the killing lens of a magnifying glass poised above.
At the beginning of each level, you’re granted a handful of objects that help your birds maneuver to safety. Yes, your feathered friends are quite dumb, and they’re not capable of sustained flight (hence the game’s title). They’ll run straight into that buzzsaw blade that’s whirling like merry hell if you don’t do something about it first.
I love the smell of wet pigeon in the morning.
Objects at your disposal include sandbag barriers, springboards, speed pads, fans, trampolines, and nets that can catch any birds that do in fact manage to get airborne via long jumps. You can lay down a limited number of objects in each level, and if you’re really clever about placement, you should be able to grab the medals that are scattered around each obstacle course. You can also grab arcade tokens that let you play a simple but fun shooting game at a cabinet located on the Main Menu.
Non Flying Soldiers adds a couple of interesting twists that set it apart from most games that share its gene pool. As you progress, you recruit other bird species that have helpful abilities: pigeons can hit switches and swim through water, and the heavy-set purple birds can perform a roll that smashes barriers. There’s an element of player inactivity as well. As your birds run through their courses, you occasionally need to activate switches or de-activate traps. You need to time your movements well, however: automatically opening gates as soon as you see them is a surefire way to wind up with a fricasseed bird.
Born to Coo.
You’ve played games like Non Flying Soldiers before: an idiot (or idiots) walks in a straight line, and you, as a benevolent god, must guide said idiot to safety. Admittedly, Non Flying Soldiers isn’t super-original, but it’s one of the most polished games in its genre. When you fail at a course, you can pick up and try again with minimal wait time. There are multiple ways to solve each course, and you’re really encouraged to experiment to see what works for you.
Best of all, there’s a hint system for when you get really stuck, so you’re not forced to sit and chew for hours on one level. Hints help you get all your birds to safety, but they don’t show you how to collect all the medals in an area. Moreover, you’re forced to wait between each hint (the countdown increases for each campaign), and that time you spend waiting impacts your final score. You can wait for your hints, or you can wing it; the game leaves the choice entirely up to you.
Aside from its cute protagonists, Non Flying Soldiers isn’t a unique game. But it’s built well, it’s polished, and more importantly, it’s fun. Cry havoc, and let slip the birds of war.