Oct 15, 2010

Angry Birds

Earlier this year I reviewed a game called Steel Shot. I wasn't too excited about it because when firing the sling shot in the game my target is several screen widths away. At the time, I was ignorant of the game Angry Birds and that it was a hot commodity on the iPhone. I learned about it soon after my review as it was the top game in iPhone land. Why?

The only way you wouldn't know anything about the game Angry Birds from Rovio Mobile is if you haven't paid any attention whatsoever to the Android gaming scene. Rovio has done an awesome job of beta testing their title before releasing a final version on the Android Market. Want to play with the pre-release? No problem. Don't want to be a beta tester. You don't have to, but all are welcome. In stark contrast we occasionally see some of these goofy "don't download this... it's only for testers" messages when it's entirely unnecessary to pollute the Android Market with such garbage or, better yet, those that make their game $50 with the same dare as if I'm going to pay that and say "aha, I beat the system" when I've just been played. I'm off tangent...

The premise behind Angry Birds is simple. Some naughty pigs have stolen some eggs from a bird's nest and the birds are now... any guesses?... ANGRY! Do they want their eggs back? No. They want REVENGE and they're willing to sacrifice themselves to do it. So we see the pigs at home in makeshift shelters and we have to topple them and crush the pigs by loading birds in a sling shot (apparently flying is out of the question) and firing them at the pig's domicile in an attempt to knock it down.

Angry Birds sports some cute graphics, outstanding audio, and the simple, touch based controls work well. Well, they work well if you like firing at something you can't see when you pull the trigger. But I think the targets in Angry Birds are generally only about a screen length away so it's not as bad and this makes for a much better experience that the aforementioned game. What really makes this stand out, though, is the emotional experience. If you can draw someone emotionally into a game, movie, book, ... whatnot then you've got a satisfied customer. I still remember when Kerrigan became a Zerg in StarCraft, but only because it was an emotional experience. Angry Birds has you wanting to clear the next screen just so you can hear the birds cheer with excitement, do little flips, ...etc. It makes you feel like you're one of them.

qrcodeThe kicker, though, is that when this high profile game was released in final form today it was released as a free, ad supported game. FREE!?? They could have easily charged a buck or two easily, but no... free... as in 'no reason not to get it'. I'm not entirely sold on this style game for my original reason and I certainly don't think this is even close to being the best game ever. I think it's more of a fad game. But I think I understand why others love it so much. It's cute, has a bit of a puzzle element (i.e. where to fire your bird), and creates an emotional bond with you and your birds. Heck, I'll admit that when playing the final version this afternoon it's got an additive charm that made it hard to put down. And free? 5/5 stars for a game that gives a whole new meaning to giving someone the bird.


  1. FWIW, in Angry Birds you can pinch to zoom out so that the whole thing is on one screen.

  2. Thanks for the tip! That's actually really nice.

    It took me awhile to figure out that I can touch the screen for the small, blue birds so that they split in 3 and do triple damage. I know that's on the second help screen, but I find the help screens to be in a less than intuitive place. I'm surprised they don't force show them when you play the first level or something.

    It is, however, nice how they've made the game language independent via all the icons and pictures.

  3. Zooming out makes a huge difference in gameplay - I play all levels zoomed out these days.

    All of the "special" birds (ie everything except red) are activated by touching the screen, and there is a little help screen the first time you encounter a new bird, but I agree they aren't as obvious as they might be - a little animation might've been nicer, but would've used up more space.

    Another nice touch in the full version is proper support of multitasking - you can actually pause, jump to the home screen, send a text (or whatever) and jump straight back into the game. I think there's a timeout (probably a builtin Android thing) but it's a nice touch.

  4. I tried this last night, per-recommendation from a friend, and loved it. The grumpy sounds of the birds cracked me up, and face it... who doesn't get some sinister enjoyment from launching animals out of slingshots? PS: I discovered that you can pinch the screen to zoom-out. Helps with your shots :)