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.
The 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.