Outside my current place of residence, there is a nest full of freshly hatched baby birds. They’re shapeless little blobs, embryonic amalgams of beaks and fluff. They do not look like birds. They are, in that sense, perhaps the closest living relatives of the polygonal mutant birds that appear in video game backgrounds, as highlighted in a recent Boundary Break video.
Birds, at their core, are strange. They are tiny dinosaurs, but despite their prehistoric mannerisms and beady little eyes, they’ve managed to adapt to human society better than many other varieties of animal. Video game background birds own, because, free of the confines of nature and physics, they are somehow stranger than real birds. Each one is a unique but ultimately flawed take on the basic principles of a bird, a divergent link in the evolutionary chain. That’s why I was thrilled to find that popular YouTube series Boundary Break recently did an episode on weird background birds.
In it, host Shesez spotlights a number of gaming’s finest low-poly avians, zooming in on high-flying monstrosities that were never meant to be seen up close. My favourites include the extremely angular (but stylistically appropriate) birds from Crash Bandicoot, the fanged terror bird/bat from F-Zero, and BioShock Infinite’s statuesque take on that most regal of birds, the pigeon.
But the best of them all, as Shesez points out, is Mario Kart 64's brown-eyed beauty, pictured up top. It’s strangely detailed, all things considered, but still just a hodgepodge of basic shapes. Notably, it does not have legs, but when you’ve got such a piercing anime gaze to carry you through life, who needs ‘em?
Now then, please, I beg of you: Share with me your favourite weird video game background birds. I need more. I will never be sated.