Swordbird Song

The skies are good and evil, friend and foe. The children of the sky shall learn this lesson. 

A mighty storm brews in the skies above. A young bird flies too close and comes a foul. Washing up on the beach of a remote island amongst a vast sea, the Swordbird awakens to the greeting of a weary old traveler. He is now trapped on this island – along with all its residents. For in the center of the island and in the eye of the storm, lies Iron Owl Tower – the home of the oppressive Owl King. Try to flee and the storm will return you, stay and the Owl King will enslave you just as he has done to all the islanders caught in his evil snare. 

There is but one hope; Take your Feather sword, climb the tower and put an end to the Owl King’s terror once and for all!

The cut-scenes present a well executed and intriguing story

Swordbird Song: The Iron Owl Tower is an action adventure created by Felipe Frienecke and very much inspired by the early top-down titles of The Legend of Zelda series. You play as the Swordbird, a plucky hero, tasked with repairing a battery that will power the elevator inside Iron Owl Tower, leading to its peak and the conclusion to the adventure. To do this, you must not only fight, but also puzzle your way through four dungeons. Defeat enemies and Bosses, locate maps, power-ups and hidden items, solve sliding block puzzles and help a few anthropomorphic island inhabitants along the way. 

Super adorable anthropomorphic animals!

If you’ve played through the Legend of Zelda: Oracle series or Link’s Awakening then you will feel right at home here. The puzzles are rewarding, the dungeon layout design is very well considered and the map and inventory system is polished to the point of exceptional standards for a GB Studio title.

The in-game map screen features character locations and points of interest not yet explored

The artwork, both in regards to the environments and the character design is exceedingly charming. You will meet all sorts of vibrant characters along the way and each dungeon’s aesthetic feels unique and exciting. With four to get through, this moderately sized adventure will have you playing for up to a couple of hours – a generous offering for a free to play GB game!

Close quarters combat in the style of top-down Zelda titles

In particular, the readability of the game’s artwork is very well presented. The colored sprites against the grayscale background elements makes enemies, NPCs and points of interest pop out. But even when playing without a GBC, the various art elements have made good use of tonal variation and black outlines to ensure the player can easily understand what is happening around them during game-play – very much in line with the excellent readability produced in Link’s Awakening!

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This

Swordbird Song: The Iron Owl Tower is a great first release from Felipe. His main focus was to create an homage of sorts to tLoZ: Link’s Awakening, focusing on creating a simple yet effective story, charismatic characters and a good sense of adventure and exploration. To any budding GB devs looking to make their first game, he offers this advice; 

“Focus on making that game you want and tell the story that you want to tell. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have a super innovative game mechanic, incredible graphics or top notch game design. A good story is a good story. Period. People will play if it is fun and interesting.” 

It’s great advice and we look forward to seeing what comes next in his game development journey! You can play Swordbird Song in browser or download the Game Boy ROM here.

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