5. Enjoy them just being there
As seen in: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Jet Set Radio, Super Street Fighter II
One of our favourite gaming moments of all time comes from The legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. You've got the boat (the King of Red Lions, of course), found the sail and finally you're out on the high seas. But as you leave the shore and reach open water, you hear a familiar sound. Looking up, you see that you have attracted the attention of some seagulls, who fly alongside you for a little while, occasionally making seagull noises. Aww…
Above: Real-life seagulls are obnoxious and violent. These fellas are quietly awesome
It doesn't do anything for the gameplay, only serves to elongate the otherwise lengthy and repetitive sailing action, but just for that brief moment you forget about the task at hand and instead start twirling the camera around on the C-stick, enjoying the company of your feathered friends. It's beautiful.
Other games know the value of a good incidental bird. Jet Set Radio Future let you dash through a load of them, setting them all off into the sky, which was damn awesome. And Super Street Fighter II had them in the background of T Hawk's stage, where they pecked at the ground until the fight was over, at which pointthey would take off into the sky. How tweet (groan).
Above: More bird bits like these, please, game-maker people. Thanks
4. Eat them
As seen in: Streets of Rage, Wolfenstein 3D, Final Fight
Videogame rule #1043: If you eat a roast chickenoff on the floor you can regain almost all your health bar and continue fighting, packedup full of poultry power. It’s also gaming law that you can inhale them before you can say ‘giblets’.
Games like Streets of Rage are littered with them. There are apples too, but given the choice between some fruit and a whopping hunk of fowl you’d always plump for the latter – just like in real life. Tekken Force even had the announcer celebrate your poultry pick-up with a ‘CHICKEN!’ shout, such is the majesty of this gaming trope.
It’s reassuring to spot a roast chicken, as you can be safe in the knowledge that everything will be OK for the next few minutes if you can devour the instantly replenishing dish. Games have tried to steer clear of this method recently, instead using the regenerative health process, but even this is less plausible than eating some poultry to get better. We’re regressing, people.
3. Find and collect them
As seen in: Pokemon, Red Dead Redemption, Condemned
People collect weird stuff. Teapots, vintage sex toys, Nazi memorabilia, Nickelback albums. Human beings just love surrounding themselves with insane crap. So why not digital simulations of birds? Hell, at least they’re stored on a hard drive, and so don’t take up space. Or smell like death. Or fill your carpet with parasites.
Above: This painting of a Nazi Pidgey Teapot is rare and highly collectible
Pokemon, with its dictatorial holler of “Gotta catch ‘em all!” is by far the most serious bird-collecting game. Pokemon’s sinister blend of baiting, breaking and battling wild animals doesn’t exclusively take in our avian friends of course, but where else but in a bird vs. bird Pokebattle can one still enjoy the thrill of a good old Victorian cock fight without fear of moral or legal recrimination?
If you prefer your birds fully dead, rather than simply dying in a feral battle of agonising attrition, there’s always the Condemned series. Here, birds are a much more traditional “find all these, unlock some stuff” collectable. And because they’re little more than rotted, feathered carcasses, they’re completely stationary, so there’s minimal actual hunting required! Screw you, Pidgey! But if you want a comfortable middle ground between torturous barbarism and peaceful cadavers, there’s always bird-collecting the John Marston way. A skilful gunshot earns you a swift death for your prey and a dandy feather for your collection. Oh Red Dead Redemption, is there nothing you can’t do?