When it comes to iOS games, there aren’t too many that come out that people are waiting for with baited breath. Infinity Blade I and II come to mind, but other than that, not much else. And then there’s Angry Birds Space, the latest version of the popular Angry Birds franchise. And that’s when the world exploded.
This is the game that my father has been waiting for. My dad, the guy who got a Playstation 2 for Christmas a few years back and returned it because it made him “too violent” has been patiently waiting for Angry Birds Space. Yes, this is the game your parents want — but it’s probably the one you’ve been waiting for as well.
The Angry Birds Dynamic
By now, you should already know a bit about the Angry Birds franchise and how it all works. You’re in this pack of birds (Pack? Flock? Coven? Whatever), and some green pigs stole your eggs. That pissed you off, so now you’re using a slingshot to attack them with your bodies, tearing down their buildings until you destroy each and every green pig on the level. Fun, right?
The big difference here is the physics engine, and how it performs differently in space. There’s a great video about it on YouTube which you really should watch, but just in case you didn’t, the gist is that objects perform differently in space than they do on Earth. That difference is gravity, which pulls down objects as they soar through the air, creating the arc that we’re all used to in the traditional version of Angry Birds. That’s one of the big reasons why Angry Birds Space is so much better than the original, and it adds an entirely new dynamic to the game. It’s awesome.
So What’s Different?
By placing the Angry Birds concept in space, you now take the arc out of each throw, which makes your trajectory dramatically different than it would be in the regular game. But the even cooler part is that there is gravity in the game, represented by blue rings that circle planets or moons in the game. As you pull back your bird to prepare them for launch, there are a series of dots that show the projected path of the bird. If the dots intersect with a gravitational pull, they arc to follow the pattern of gravity present in the object, thus changing your course.
Already you can guess that this is going to make the game more difficult, and it does. There are often times when there are multiple gravitational objects in one space and you have to time your launch such that your bird transfers from one to the other. Sometimes you have to fling the bird the opposite direction than you usually would so you can use the gravity of the planet to fling the bird toward an otherwise un-hittable object. It’s pretty cool.
Admit it: You were bored with the old bird system. That’s OK, we all were too, and no one likes that stupid boomerang toucan — don’t worry, he’s not present in the game. Instead, as you progress through the game you get more and more birds with varying abilities. Some are familiar, like the blue bird that splits into three when you tap the screen, and the red triangle that you started with in the original series.
But there are also new birds, like a bird similar to the yellow one that goes faster when you tap the screen, except now where you tap is the target for the bird. There’s also a bomb bird, but this time you can explode it after you hit an object, plus it makes this really cool sound that’s reminiscent of that scene in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones where Obi-Wan is being attacked by Boba Fett and these mines get dropped in the asteroid field (too nerdy? Sorry). Each bird that I discovered adds a new and better dynamic, and doesn’t leave you frustrated like the old game would. Again, no more toucans — at least from what I’ve found.
Is It Fun?
Heck yeah, it’s fun, and it completely changed the game for me. Admittedly, I’ve grown a bit tired of Angry Birds over the years. It’s fun, but there’s only so many times you can fling birds at pigs before it gets old. The gravity/no gravity variations here make much more enjoyable to play, and more challenging as well.
I will say that it’s quick to get through if you don’t go for perfect 3-star levels every time. I “beat” the game in just a few hours, although now I have to go back and get some of the bonus and hidden items to complete my quest. Well, that and the crap part.
The Part That’s Crap
The game is $0.99, so that’s great — but you only get two zones to play in, totaling 60 levels. For a game that plays so quickly, that’s a pretty small number, even if one more zone is “coming soon,” so Rovio added another zone that you can access for $0.99.
Is the game fun? Definitely. Is it worth $0.99? For sure. And is it worth buying the extra zone for $0.99? Sure, it’s still a great deal. But it’s absolute crap that it’s in there in the first place.
This could’ve been a 9- or 10-score review, but it’s not. Instead, I’ve got this at a 7 purely because of the garbage that is in-app purchasing. It drives me nuts that we don’t just get the extra zone, when most people would’ve gladly paid $1.99 from the start to get it all.
And that’s ultimately the problem with this business model. Had Rovio added the zone from the start and charged more, they might have lost out on a few sales because people thought that extra buck pushed it over the price limit, but now I just feel cheated. Other $0.99 games don’t require you to pay to access extra levels, why should this? It seems like Rovio is trying to capitalize on the franchise’s popularity, and it stinks.
It’s unfortunate that this has to taint the game for me so much, because with the exception of the IAP problem, I really do enjoy playing it. The levels are fun, the graphics are amazing on the Retina display and it’s just fun to play. As much as it ticks me off, I’ll probably become one of the saps that buys the extra zone because it’s just that enjoyable. And that’s the part that I hate.