Who would have thought that a game based on a flock of birds out to destroy a herd of pigs would become a worldwide sensation, but that's exactly what has happened. Released in December of 2009 Angry Birds has, in country after country, become the number one game and number one app with over 6.5 million copies being sold. Originally released for iPhone and the Nokia N900 it has since been released for the iPad, Palm OS and a beta has been released for the Android OS. (This review is based upon the Apple iPad version, but gameplay and graphics are very similar to the iPhone version.) Angry Birds has a background story that gives the game a unique personality. Per the game trailer (provided below) one day the birds were taking "special" care of their eggs while nearby a heard of pigs caught sight of the birds "delicious" eggs. Apparently the pigs have a special fondness for eggs and decided to throw caution to the wind in order to have themselves a nice breakfast. Ironically the pigs were able to take ironic advantage of the birds single minded devotion to their eggs and make off with the soon to be poached eggs. By the time the birds realized their progeny had be abducted, the pigs fire was lit and the birds' eggs were in the frying pan. As the saying goes, "Hell have no furry like a bird scorned."
The objective of the game, destroy the pigs at all costs. The birds throw themselves, with your aid, at the pigs and the strangely geometric structures the pigs build. Through the use of physics you attempt to knock down the structures and wipe out the pigs on each level. The birds are not a renewable weapon and once gone, the game is over and you must start the puzzle again. Some birds have special "powers" that can be revealed when you tap on them. Physics is used when you throw the birds at the objects. Some objects crack, others break, some fall or roll and a few will even explode. Regardless of what happens to the object, all objects around it will react in a natural and predictive manner. Once you understand how all the objects will react in the puzzle and the strengths of the birds, you can solve the puzzle.
There are several types of birds, each type released to your arsenal as the game progresses. Below they are listed in the order in which they are made available to the player along with their use.
- Red Birds: Launched at structures in brute force attacks, they only have momentum
- Blue Birds: May be split into three after launch, taking out three or more targets at once
- Yellow Birds: May be sped up to move much faster into their target
- Black Birds: Will explode on command or shortly after they hit an object
- White Birds: Will drop an egg-shaped bomb upon command, then fly off into the distance
- Green Birds: Will go backwards flying in the opposite direction like a boomerang
- Giant Red Birds: Similar to the standard Red Bird, just larger with the ability to cause more damage
The herd of pigs is made of a few different types of pigs:
- Small Pigs: Easy to destroy, they typical burst if hit by a bird or any falling debris
- Large Pigs: Will die if hit directly by a bird, but may not if hit by falling debris
- Pigs with Helmets: Helmets provide armor, they crack if hit
When the pigs are all gone, the puzzle is complete. Should you have any birds remaining 10,000 is awarded for each. Finally, the more points you receive the more stars you are award at the end of the level. The accomplishments of one level have no impact on future levels.
After playing the game for just a little while, you may find yourself having mixed emotions about these pigs. At one moment I'm ecstatic about killing a pig or devastated about missing not completing the level; then I will find myself feeling sorry for the pigs and thinking these birds are just crazy. This emotional quandary coupled with the solid gameplay and graphics makes this game extremely addictive and fun to play. There is also no cash outlay besides the original cost of the game, see We Rule for what I mean.
The game play is simple, while the puzzles can be extremely challenging; making the game that much more addictive. Some of the puzzles are quick to solve, others take considerably longer. All can be beat, taking just long enough to frustrate but not enough for you to just delete the game and move on. The iPad version makes excellent use of the horizontal format, even rotating if you turn the device around. The music, sound effects and graphics are all cartoonish in nature and extremely well done. Admittedly the music does get repetitive, but their's nothing unique in games with a repetitive soundtrack.
The game is well worth the $4.99 price tag for the iPad version. The iPhone version is only $0.99 if you want to take it for a spin for a few less dollars. If you are really hurting for cash, there is a lite version as well for the iPhone. If you own an iPad and like Warner Brothers animated shorts, then you are just the personality type that is going to love Angry Birds HD.
If you find yourself needing a little help, the folks at Rovio have made some video walk-thrus available.