Steambirds Alliance

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Steambirds Alliance Game Poster Image
Cats vs. birds with planes equals multiplayer fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players are reward for flying prowess by leveling and gaining new planes to fly into combat. There's no diplomacy here, just run and gun action against enemies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This is a "bullet-hell" game where the object is to shoot down a seemingly endless wave of enemies shooting at you. There are no role models to speak of, and the goal is to shoot down the enemy or to be shot down.

Ease of Play

Using a keyboard and mouse is more difficult than using a gamepad, but the menus are easy to navigate. The challenge is in surviving the waves of enemies and bullets shot at you.

Violence

Players fire at enemies with guns, missiles and other weapons, and planes explode when their health bar expires. You can lose planes permanently, but if you build up enough credit through game sessions, they can be replaced.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

This game has currency that can be purchased online through Steam that will enable players to buy items and bundles to upgrade their planes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's a bar (the Pilot's Pub) where missions can be picked up, but this is about piloting planes and pilots don't consume anything.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Steambirds Alliance is a downloadable "bullet-hell" top-down arcade-style massively multiplayer game for Windows PCs. The game's free to play, but there's in-game currency that can be purchased online through Steam to buy upgrades to planes. Bullet Hell shooters are games where players attempt to dodge hundreds of incoming rounds while returning fire at larger targets. This title is about reflexive action with cartoon violence, and while the screen gets red with successive blows taken, there's no blood shown. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content in the game.

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What's it about?

STEAMBIRDS ALLIANCE is a "bullet hell" shoot-em up where players attack enemy targets while avoiding large amounts of incoming fire. The plot of the game is an old story of the rebel alliance tackling the evil empire, but with a twist -- the rebels are birds and the empire is comprised of cats. Players take to planes and fly through a variety of zones to take on the enemy. You'll fly and destroy enemy planes (which come in different sizes with different attacks), level up, and build up a hangar full of planes suited to each kind of mission you engage in (like bombing runs, dogfights, etc). There's cooperative online play, and even crafting of materials once you get to level 20.

Is it any good?

While this is a different take on a familiar theme, there's no discounting the quick-paced fun to be had. Steambirds Alliance is a shooter that requires some strategic elements to survive, or just a quick finger to fire the afterburners and get out of harm's way while waiting for your health bar to regenerate. What's interesting and also different about this fast-paced play is the inclusion of permadeath into the already hectic action. If you're defeated, that sparkly plane you invested time and possibly real money in (thanks to its in-game purchases) goes bye-bye, and you have to build up another plane from scratch. That manages to raise the stakes even higher than ever before when you're on a mission. The graphical elements are two dimensional, but sport some nice colors in the backgrounds and the planes. Unfortunately, the audio is flat and consists mostly of repetitive background music, which can get old fast when you realize that you fight a mission, collect points, improve your plane, and do it all over again.

There were some problems logging in at times and the current player base for the game is small. Overall, though, the action's easy to jump in to, and the enemies just keep coming and coming. Players can determine how long they wish to play, and can escape from a battlefield at almost any time, which is a nice element, especially if you need a break or want to save a plane that you've been improving for a long time. Steambirds Alliance is enjoyable, especially in short spurts, but the wash, rinse, and repeat formula does get old in longer play sessions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about setting reasonable game time and screen time limits? What seems like a reasonable amount of time to game, and what else could players be doing instead of watching television or playing video games?

  • Is it the pacing and the challenge, or the story that makes arcade games so much fun? How do players handle the intensity when it builds up to a hectic level?

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