Top 10 retro video games featuring birds

With a website called 8bit budgies, it will come as no surprise to you that I love video games featuring birds. Over the years there have been some absolute classics, starring a range of our feathered friends from ducks to ostriches (I don’t recall any games about budgies). These are my top 10 retro video games featuring birds that I hope will one day come to the Nintendo Switch.

10. Dynamite Dux

(Arcade, Master System, Amiga)


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Dynamite Dux is a beat-em-up developed by Sega and released in arcades in 1988. Let’s get one thing straight: this is no Golden Axe. In fact, it’s a rather strange affair featuring two ducks (Bin and Pin) and a bunch of weird cartoon-like bad guys. The controls are very simplistic but interestingly (for a beat-em-up) you can punch in different directions rather than just straight ahead. You can also pick up and use a variety of weapons like rocks, water guns and bazookas. It’s all rather fun and colourful and definitely one of the oddest beat-em-ups I’ve played. The music is shocking though.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: virtually zero.
Sega doesn’t seem particularly interested in making its old arcade games available on Nintendo Switch at the moment. If they did they aren’t likely to port this game as it’s not one of their better-known games.

9. Joust

(Arcade, Atari, NES)


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Joust is a classic arcade game developed by Williams in 1982. The game sees you playing as a knight riding a flying ostrich! You fly around the screen by pressing a button faster or slower (a bit like Flappy Bird) and defeat enemy knights on vultures by jousting them, ensuring your lance is higher than theirs. If you bump into them from below their lance you will die. It’s actually quite a complex gameplay mechanic for a game that looks so simple and is difficult to master. It’s a brilliant arcade game though which can be played by 2 players competitively or cooperatively and really feels ahead of its time. Joust would make a perfect portable multiplayer game for Nintendo Switch thanks to the detachable Joy-Cons – they may need to re-think the controls a bit though as having to repeatedly press the small Joy-Con buttons to fly could be difficult.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: quite high.
This game usually appears on Midway arcade compilations (Midway bought the license from Williams) and has also been made available as a stand-alone game on XBox and PS3. Given how well old arcade games have been selling on Nintendo Switch I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long for Midway to join the party.

8. Penguin-Kun Wars

(Arcade, NES, Game Boy)


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This game is like dodge-ball meets air-hockey and it’s incredible. You are a cute little penguin and take on a range of fury animals one-on-one. The aim of the game is to get all your balls over to the other side of the playfield whilst your opponent will be throwing all their balls towards you. You need to time your balls carefully to knock back your opponent’s balls. If either player gets hit by a ball they are knocked out for a short-while – this gives the other player an advantage to quickly throw more balls away.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: high.
Penguin Wars has actually been re-made for Nintendo Switch and due out this year. The trailer looks fantastic. I’d say there’s a chance we’ll see the original as part of the Arcade Archives series at some stage too.

7. Alien Soldier

(Mega Drive)


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Alien Soldier is a classic Mega Drive run and gun game developed by shoot-em-up masters Treasure. The main character is a bird-like creature called Epsilon-Eagle who takes on bad guys with a variety of weaponry such as flame-throwers, lasers and multi-directional blasters. It’s a very challenging but fun game with some punishing boss-fights. The game was released towards the end of the Mega Drive’s life and it really pushes the console’s graphical capabilities – it looks stunning. I’m a big fan of Treasure’s games and I hope this classic, as well as Gunstar Heroes, come to the Nintendo Switch.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: reasonably high.
Sega were big supporters of Nintendo’s previous Virtual Consoles, releasing several Mega Drive games including this one. I would, therefore, expect to see it released at some stage on Nintendo Switch.

6. Battle Circuit


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Battle Circuit is an arcade beat-em-up developed by Capcom in 1997. It’s one of their last 90s arcade beat-em-ups and as such is not one of their better-known games. That’s sad because it’s a real beauty. The game is just so colourful and fun, with lovely graphics and a selection of unique characters. My favourite is (obviously) Pink Ostrich who can peck and kick the bad guys to death. Pinky is definitely the best avian beat-em-up character ever. What I love about this game is that the characters can do special moves (like in a fighting game) and you can pick up money as you go along to trade for more special moves. This stops the game from getting boring like some of the earlier beat-em-ups. Honestly, this is one of the most unusual beat-em-ups available and if you’re a fan of the genre you need to check it out.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: virtually zero.
Capcom has been responsible for some incredible arcade beat-em-ups over the years. Whilst they have treated fans to Final Fight and Dungeons and Dragons in recent years, I can’t see them porting their more obscure titles. It would be great to see some of their other great beat-em-ups such as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Armored Warriors, Alien vs Predator, Dynasty Wars, Knights of the Round and, of course, Battle Circuit. Let’s hope they notice how well Hamster’s Arcade Archives are selling on Switch!

5. Flicky

(Arcade, Mega Drive)flicky

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If you love simple but challenging arcade games then Flicky will be right up your street. You take control of a little blue bird and you need to run and jump/fly around the levels collecting chicks and taking them to the exit before the cats get you. You can also pick items up to throw at the cats. Flicky is such an underrated game: it may not look very special but it plays beautifully and it’s got really addictive gameplay. I really don’t understand why this game doesn’t get more love! Flicky has at least had cameo appearances in other Sega games such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monaco GP.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: unlikely. 
This game was never released as a stand-alone title on Nintendo Virtual Console but it has been made available as an unlockable extra on Sonic Mega Collection (Gamecube/PS2). It would make a great pick up and play portable game on Nintendo Switch.

4. DuckTales

(NES, Game Boy)

Duck Tales

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As a child, I was a huge fan of the DuckTales cartoon featuring Scrooge McDuck and Capcom really did the cartoon justice with this NES classic. It’s an old-school non-linear platformer with a lot of character that perfectly captures the feel of the Disney cartoon. The graphics are great for the time and I really like the way you can play the levels in any order you choose. Capcom pumped out some fantastic Disney games during this period including the excellent Darkwing Duck which is just a little too difficult for my liking.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: reasonably high.
With news that Capcom is bringing their Megaman Legacy Collection 1 and 2 to Switch, and sales of Street Fighter II doing very well for the company, it seems certain that we’ll eventually see their Disney Afternoon Collection released on Nintendo’s console. The Disney game is a collection of six NES classics including DuckTales and Rescue Rangers. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before we also see the excellent DuckTales Remastered which was previously released on Nintendo Wii U.

3. Duck Hunt

(NES, Arcade)duckhunt2

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As a child, I never owned a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) but every year we’d holiday in France and I’d spend a lot of time in French supermarkets playing Punch-Out!! and Duck Hunt on demo units whilst my parents shopped. Duck Hunt was my first experience of a light-gun game and I loved it. Released by Nintendo in 1984, the aim of the game was to use the NES Zapper to shoot flying ducks which could be controlled by Player 2. Sadly light-gun games such as this are less popular today due to the fact that the guns don’t work on modern TVs. I did pick this up on the Wii Virtual console and it should also be possible to play on Switch using the Joy-Con’s ‘pointer’ function. In truth, this is a bit of a repetitive game which is not exactly ‘deep’. Having said that it’s also beautifully simple, with an iconic design that makes it pure nostalgia.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: very high.
The game was available on the Wii virtual console and is a prime candidate to feature on Switch’s virtual console thanks to the Joy-Con which can be used as a gun pointer. Nintendo should definitely consider re-making Duck Hunt for Nintendo Switch. We can at least hope to see Duck Hunt Dog feature in the next instalment of Super Smash Bros.

2. Banjo-Kazooie


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British company Rare had an incredibly productive partnership with Nintendo in the 1990s and they developed some of Nintendo’s most memorable games, such as Donkey Kong Country (SNES) and Goldeneye 007 (N64). Banjo-Kazooie is another classic game, developed by Rare in 1998. The game saw the titular hero, Banjo, and his bird-friend, Kazooie, solve a number of puzzles to find jigsaw pieces and eventually take on the evil witch, Gruntilda. Banjo-Kazooie was the game that made me buy an N64 console and at the time I actually preferred it to Super Mario 64 – Rare essentially copied the Mario 64 formula and arguably improved upon Nintendo’s masterpiece. Kazooie is a Red-breasted Breegull (not a real bird sadly) who lived in Banjo’s rucksack but she would pop out to help him swim underwater or to fly around some beautifully designed levels which really showed off the N64’s 3D capabilities. The game was hugely successful and Rare developed a sequel, Banjo-Tooie in 2000. Sadly, for Nintendo fans, Rare was bought by Microsoft in 2002, the Stamper brothers (the founders) left, and the company is now a shadow of its former self.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: very slim.
Since Nintendo sold Rare to Microsoft there’s little chance we’ll see the N64 version of Banjo Kazooie on Nintendo Switch. Never say never though, as we’ve just seen with Crash Bandicoot. Nintendo appears to have a decent relationship with Microsoft and allowed them to publish several of their old games as part of the Rare Replay compilation on XBox One. I’d love to see some old Rare games released on the Switch’s Virtual Console such as Banjo and Goldeneye. I think there’s more of a chance that Banjo-Kazooie could be a character in the new Super Smash Bros (2018) which would also be pretty amazing for fans of this game.

1. The NewZealand Story

(Arcade, NES, Master System, Mega Drive, Amiga, PC Engine)Newzealand story2

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In the 1980s Taito was responsible for releasing some incredibly brilliant arcade games featuring cute characters and straightforward gameplay: Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars and The NewZealand Story are some of the greatest arcade-style games from this period and hold up well even today, thanks to their lovely characters and art style. The NewZealand Story features a Kiwi called Tiki who simply has to find his caged Kiwi friends to escape each level, using a range of weapons and balloons to help him. Despite the cute graphics, it’s actually a challenging game to play, but very rewarding. My friends and I loved playing this game on our Amigas. Despite the lack of 2 player co-operative gameplay, we died so frequently that it was fun challenging each other to see who could get the furthest.

Chances of the game coming to Nintendo Switch: reasonably high.
Given how popular Hamster’s Arcade Archives games are on the Switch eShop, Taito would be crazy not to bring their classics such as Bubble Bobble and The NewZealand Story to the Switch. Bubble Bobble has already been released as part of this series on PS4 and on previous Nintendo virtual consoles and The NewZealand story did appear on the Wii Virtual Console. Let’s hope Taito see sense quickly because this is an absolute classic that deserves to be celebrated as the best arcade game ever featuring a bird!

I hope you agree that these are some fine avian-inspired games. Some games, I wanted to consider but didn’t, either because the characters weren’t actually birds or the bird character wasn’t central to the main game. These games were:

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4 thoughts on “Top 10 retro video games featuring birds

  1. The GIF you used for this instantly made me think of those dastardly eagles in Ninja Gaiden! Oh, those birds.. The ones in the Castlevania series, too, ayyyye..

    But yes, Joust, GREAT GAME. Back around ’99 I was playing this seemingly every weekend with a friend of mine, and he’d always yell “Back to back!!” when we’d be flying towards each other. Good times. For those who drop by this post and are curious about Joust but don’t have the means, give Balloon Fight a whirl (and readily available on a number of Nintendo systems), which is basically the same mechanics. I think Joust is superior, of course, but the static stage with a couple guys to take out is essentially the same setup and controls. (But — again — Joust if and when you can. Worth the wait!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree the bird does remind me of Ninja Gaiden. I didn’t create the gif – found it on – have added a link to the bottom of the article. I did a bit of research and it comes from a NES game called Ironsword: Wizzards and Warriors II. I agree Balloon Fight is a quality NES game – I love simple arcade style games like that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh man, I HAVE Ironsword and I didn’t even realize. I remember now! Arcade games, yes, I was just having this conversation yesterday about them. They’re some of the only games that have stood the test of time completely. Try to play an NFL game from the N64 generation now. You’ll wonder how the heck we did it.

        Liked by 1 person

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