The Swoop 64

The Swoop 64 is a Nintendo 64 homebrew game by the Zestydavy which was released on 13 December 2020. It is a flight simulator where you control a thieving bird that hoards objects from the neighbourhood. TS64 was submitted for the 64brew game jam 2020 , and won 3rd place, tied with Lunar Assault 64. Fantastic!

You can download the ROM from the download page for this homebrew game by using the password tehsw00p or see the source code on Github and download from Drive.

The Swoop 64 gameplay and style

In TS64, you play as a crow who is building a nest from items scattered around the area. It plays like a flight simulator so it’s fairly easy to grasp if you’ve played that kind of game before.

The game takes place in a small village with a few houses, a picnic and a junkyard and you have to pick up and bring back items from around the stage back to your nest at the centre of the area.

At first you can only pick up balloons but as you start to return items back to the nest, you unlock the ability to pick up bigger and bigger objects.

It’s an arcade-style game so the objective is to try to obtain a high score, which is the height measured in feet of your ever-expanding nest.

Every time you bump into an object, you drop one of the items you’re carrying and get a little bit disoriented. Most of the items that you can pick up are standing on the ground or a platform or hanging from a tree so it’s imperative to master ‘skimming’ surfaces throughout the game.

‘Size’ theme

This game has one of my favourite interpretations of the ‘size’ concept. When you first play a game of The Swoop 64, you are limited to only balloons but then you unlock bigger and bigger objects to the point where things that would seem to be just background or obstacles become real grabbable objects.

Credits

The game doesn’t seem to have a credits section, and there’s no readme/info that comes along with the ROM. All we know is that it was made by RON M aka Zestydavy and Miluaces.

They also mention in their post-jam interview that Arookas made the HUD/menu and Gatonator (?) composed the music for the game.

Conclusion and review

The Swoop 64 is a fantastic game. It seems very simple but there is a lot of complexity hidden within it. Most of this comes from the risk/reward aspect of arcade-style games like this. How early should you return your current load? Will it be enough to unlock the next level of objects?

You’re going to want to unlock the largest objects as soon as possible since those are the ones that will increase your nest height faster than the res. However they’re the last to be available so you’ll have the least amount of time to collect them.

This balance really creates plenty of replay value as you need to carefully plan out your journey to achieve the shortest route to the largest cluster of items at your current size-level and back to the nest.

It’s Pilotwings meets Katamari

DrDoak

The graphics are great and consistent. Everything has a charming low-poly feel to it and the objects in the distance never seem to pop out of nowhere. Everything is distinguishable and in plain view.

The main issue I have with the game is the ambiguity of what’s going on. First time playing through, I thought it was just an obstacle course where you collect balloons (somewhat like Pilotwings) and it took me a few tries to realise that you could return your load early to make other objects available.

Also having some kind of indication about what things you can pick up like a popup message that says “you can now collect cats, chickens etc” or an indicator for when to return to base would be really helpful in understanding how to play the game.

The Swoop 64 doesn’t come with any instructions, so even something as simple as a README would have been helpful.

Overall, the game is a lot of fun but without instructions, it can be a bit daunting. They have been making changes to the repo after the game was launched, so have a go at compiling it to see the updated version.

Articles across the web

The Swoop 64 is a homebrewn N64 flight simulator where you play as a bird who steals objects to build a nest as high as possible.
Article published on N64 Squid

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