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Video Game / SongBird Symphony

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Time to sing!

SongBird Symphony is a video game alternating sections of Platform Game and Rhythm Game developed by Joysteak Studios. It was released for PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on July 25, 2019.

You play as Birb, a young chick living with Uncle Pea the peacock. Realising he's probably not a peacock himself, Birb decides to go looking for his origins. He seeks help from the Owl, said to be the wisest bird of the whole forest. The Owl shows Birb an artifact he holds that can grant any wish, and says that they can use it to find Birb's parents, but it needs six notes from the birds around the forest to function. The Owl already has two and sends Birb to find the rest. On his journey, Birb, accompanied by the unhatched chicken Egbert, meets many birds of several species and tries to help anyone needing a wing. But not all the birds are friendly, for the mysterious Masked Bird, leader of a gang of Magpies, aims to stop Birb from getting the notes.

The whole game revolves around music, and not only during the Rhythm Game sections. Birb needs to sing to activate moving blocks during the Platform Game sections, helping him reach new zones or solve puzzles, and most of his accomplishments unlock notes which in turn add new notes or instruments to the soundtrack. The Rhythm Game sections use several kinds of gameplay you discover along the plot, and alternate moments when you have to input notes with characters singing (the game is not voice acted, but you have karaokes).

The official page of the studio can be found here.

SongBird Symphony contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: "May the music guide your wings!"
  • Art Shift: Uncle Pea sometimes switches from cartoony goggly eyes to big, shiny, Animesque eyes.
  • Big Bad: The Masked Bird leads the trio of Magpies in opposing Birb's quest to get the four notes to power the Owl's artifact and find Birb's parents. The Masked Bird is actually Birb's mother and a good bird trying to stop the Owl, who killed almost every songbird in the past, from finishing the job and conquering the forest.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Inverted. When the Masked Bird reveals herself as Birb's mother, Birb is in Stunned Silence. Before he can ask why she didn't just tell him, the Lyrebird explains that she thought Birb wouldn't believe her. In addition, she spent so long hiding from the Owl that she wasn't ready to reveal herself even though Birb was telling the Magpies he was trying to find his family.
  • Creative Closing Credits: They feature a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, along with some fan-made bird designs from Patreon patrons and contest winners.
  • Creepy Crows: The Magpies are the main antagonists, and they repeatedly try to intimidate Birb into giving up his quest. The "creepy" part is later subverted, as they're Good All Along and only want to stop the Owl from conquering the forest.
  • Dance-Off: Between the penguins' leader and the blue-footed boobies' chef. It ends in a draw.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Each time Birb defeats one of the Magpies, they explode and get sent flying until they're A Twinkle in the Sky. Strangely, all of them survive this.
  • Disco Dan: The Penguin Leader loves disco, and even has bees providing the necessary lights. Birb just goes with it and dances along.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": All over the place. There's a bird named Birb, a peacock named Pea, an egg named Egbert, and a cassowary named Cassie.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The Masked Bird unmasks herself towards the end of the game, revealing herself to Birb as his mother and the last of the Lyrebirds.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Birb finds out what he is, reunites with his mother, reconciles with Uncle Pea, and defeats the Owl. He settles into a changed life where Egbert constantly visits, and he is comfortable in his own skin. Birb's singing also brings prosperity to the penguins and blue-footed boobies, friendship to Cassie, and family to the bowerbird by reuniting them with their chick Egbert.
  • Exact Words: Birb is very careful with his word choice when explaining to Cassie what he learned from the Kookaburras. Technically speaking, they are concerned about her... just not in the way he makes it sound.
  • False Reassurance: The Owl apologizes for nearly trying to kill Birb, after having trapped the little guy, his mother and Uncle Pea. When the Lyrebird calls the Owl out for thinking an apology makes up for all the suffering he caused, the Owl clarifies that he's sorry because he needed Birb to give the last note.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Owl considers songbirds "the scum of the forest", as they have mastered the power of music but choose to abuse it for their own ends. Except, they don't. The Lyrebirds use their power merely to entertain and help others. As such, the Owl felt he deserved power far more than them, and this ultimately led him to wipe them out.
  • Feather Fingers: The Owl is depicted this way in some of his sprites, stroking his chin with wings that are drawn like human hands.
  • Final-Exam Boss:
    • The Magpies serve as a recurring example: whenever they challenge you, they copy the various styles of birdsong you've encountered thus far.
    • The final battle against the Owl's One-Winged Angel form contains every single style of birdsong in the game.
  • Final Solution: Yes, really. It turns out that the Owl was responsible for wiping out the Lyrebirds in order to claim dominion over the forest.
  • Flintstone Theming: With birds, obviously.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: Used whenever a song has lyrics.
  • Free-Range Children: Downplayed in Gallus Palace; though several chicks are running around unsupervised, this is against their harried mother's wishes. The guards are also competent enough to keep the chicks inside, though they're willing to let Birb and Egbert pass.
  • Gangbangers: The Magpies have shades of this, being a gang of large, intimidating birds. One of them even has a gold chain around their neck.
  • Genocide Backfire: Birb, who turns out to be the son of the Sole Survivor of the Owl's attempted genocide of the Lyrebirds, eventually defeats the Owl in a birdsong battle and sends him packing.
  • Gentle Giant: Cassie the Cassowary may seem intimidating due to her sheer size, but she's actually more of a Shrinking Violet who's Prone to Tears.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: It starts raining just when the usually cheerful Birb hits the saddest point of his journey.
  • Interspecies Adoption: While they are both birds, Birb is not from the same species as Uncle Pea. Also, Egbert is not a chicken - he's a bowerbird.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Birb and Egbert are not from the same species of bird. Specifically, they're a lyrebird and a bowerbird, respectively.
  • Ironic Echo: The lines Owl sings during his first meeting with Birb in "The Owl's Opera" song are repeated in the twisted form in "The Owl's Magnum Opus" song at the end of the game.
    • To compare, "The Owl's Opera" lyrics:
      Whoooo do we have here?
      A lost little bird, oh dear!
      Little one, there's nothing to fear!
      You've come to the right place
      I'll gladly take this case
      There's no other bird who can!
      Let's pick up the pace
      That was just a little taste
      Come now, my little friend!
    • And "The Owl's Magnum Opus" lyrics:
      Whoooo do we have here?
      A reckless chick, for sure!
      Little one, have you no fear?
      You've come to the wrong place
      Now I'll have to erase
      you right from where you stand!
      Let's pick up the pace
      That was just a little taste
      My power knows no end!
  • Kids Are Cruel: Both Birb and Egbert are victims of this:
    • The peafowl chicks laugh about how Birb doesn't look the same as them. While some of their parents scold them for this, their own comments show that they aren't much better than their children, gossiping among themselves about Uncle's Pea's 'questionable decision'.
    • Some of the younger chickens at Gallus Palace harass Egbert by making him be their ball. After intervening, Birb notes that there seem to be bullies everywhere you go.
  • Literally Laughable Question: How the Kookaburras react to Birb asking about their behavior.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The d at the end of SongBird is written as an eighth note, and the S at the start of Symphony is written with a G-clef.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Twice. The Masked Bird is Birb's mother, and the Bowerbird is Egbert's father.
  • Magic Music: Singing the right notes in the right patterns and places can trigger all kinds of effects.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: A mysterious, silent masked bird is the leader of the Magpies. But she is ultimately not as malevolent as she appears, and the mask merely serves to hide her identity and her facial scars from the Owl.
  • Marathon Boss: The Final Boss lasts for roughly eight minutes nonstop.
  • Mirthless Laughter: The Kookaburras laugh at everything, even when they're upset and afraid. This is why they've been laughing whenever they check on Cassie; they're absolutely terrified of her.
  • Missing Child: Poor Uncle Pea. One morning, your beloved son joins you for a dancing lesson, then says he'll meet you back home for breakfast... but doesn't show up, having disappeared without warning.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Birb's mother hid him away as an egg to stop him from dying at the Owl's hands. Then he was discovered by a peacock, and the rest is history.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Subverted if Birb frees the Chicken Pixie. She tries to be evil, but she is very bad at doing it.
    • Played straight when a horrified Birb realizes that he accidentally gave the Owl the power to wipe out the rest of the Songbirds, and left Uncle Pea open to an ambush from the Owl. He makes up for it by taking on the Owl and defeating him.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Birb at the very beginning of the game. The realization that Uncle Pea is probably not his biological family is what prompts him to go looking for answers about his origins.
  • Ocular Gushers: Cassie is naturally prone to these.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Egbert does this in order to avoid being left too far behind.
  • One-Winged Angel: When the Owl's artifact is activated, he transforms into a huge, glowing white bird that resembles a giant owl skeleton.
  • Order Is Not Good: The Owl wants to activate the artifact because he wants to use the Lyrebirds' power to bring order back to the forest. And to that end, he tried to wipe out their entire race!
  • Point of No Return: The game repeatedly warns players before the cutoff point, culminating in Birb himself musing aloud that he'd better make sure he's completed all his business before moving forward.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • One of the reasons that Cassie is so miserable is because she keeps hearing laughter coming from above, and believes that the culprits keep visiting just to mock her. When Birb investigates, he discovers that the Kookaburra are actually scared of her due to her sheer size, and have been spying on her, tittering nervously. Not exactly good, but not as dire as she'd assumed, either.
    • The Masked Bird and the Magpies are unable to explain to Birb why he should not continue his quest (the Owl is manipulating Birb as part of his plan to conquer the forest); they just scream at him to stop, even if they do have a real reason to want him to. But well, given that their leader doesn't even talk until far later, it can be argued that they tried.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Magpie Gang, consisting of a masked bird leader and three magpie goons who try to stop Birb in his quest.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Each of the Magpies gets angry red eyes in their last verse, showing that they've gotten serious. Later in the game, the Owl's eyes turn red when he reveals he was Evil All Along.
  • Red Herring: The Chicken Fairie/pixie in the Gallus Pallace. You can encounter her during an optional quest and free her with the right feather. It turns out she is a mischievous pixie who wants to get revenge on her captors, and she has an Evil Plan. You can encounter her again trying to teach penguins to fight the chickens, and Birb nervously wishes her luck. It turns out, however, that she isn't the Big Bad. That honor goes to the Owl.
  • Relative Button: Birb may have been fine with staying away from the Owl after the latter tries to kill him and Egbert, letting him try and fail to complete the Artifact. But then the Owl kidnaps Uncle Pea, traps the Lyrebird, and uses them to coerce Birb to give him the last note. After that, Birb at his Rage Breaking Point goes to confront the Owl and stop him once and for all.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The ominous Masked Bird turns out to be Birb's mother and the last of the Lyrebirds.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Kookaburras don't laugh to show that they're happy. They laugh to express fear, which is why they were laughing near Cassie.
    • Owls prey on smaller birds. Thus, it is remarkable that Owl tolerated Birb for that long before revealing that he killed all the lyrebirds For the Evulz.
    • Lyrebirds really can mimic any birdsong of their choice.
    • The Owl's powered-up form has huge, dark pits for eyes and holes in his beak because that's what an owl skull looks like in real life.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: Level 1, all-animal cast.
  • Spanner in the Works: After the Owl has Birb, Birb's mother and Uncle Pea helplessly trapped in cages, it's none other than Egbert who frees Birb to face the Owl.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Once Egbert hatches, he stops being The Silent Bob and starts speaking clear English.
  • Thieving Magpie: Downplayed, but the first member of the Magpie Gang has a gold chain around their neck like a stereotypical gangster.
  • This Cannot Be!: The Owl sings several shades of this upon defeat.
    "No! This cannot be! The victor should be me! No way! This is absurd! My plan had no flaws! How could I have lost?! Not to this little bird!"
  • Toothy Bird: Mostly averted, except for one special case - when the Owl reveals himself as the Big Bad, he cracks a wicked Slasher Smile full of teeth.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: During his Motive Rant, the Owl declares that helping everybirdy out just makes others weak and dependent.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The credits include a slideshow of the various birds after the events of the game.
    • The Woodpecker has completed a wooden Humongous Mecha to terrorize the chickens of Gallus Palace.
    • One of the Kookaburras perches on Cassie's beak and laughs. The other two don't seem as enthusiastic.
    • King Booby and Queen Penguin dance together, surrounded by Bishie Sparkles. A few boobies seem perturbed by the display.
    • The Owl broods after his defeat with a bandage on his wing.
    • Egbert and Birb cavort through a field together. The former is apparently crushing on the latter, not going unnoticed by Uncle Pea and the Bowerbird.
    • Birb's mother tucks him into bed, shedding Tears of Joy.
    • Birb sits on a cliff, happily watching the sun on the horizon.
    • And finally, a group picture of Birb, Egbert, their parents, Uncle Pea, and the Magpie Gang.