Almost a year and a half ago, in February of 2011, Andreas Illiger released what would become one of the most popular iPhone games on the app store: Tiny Wings. It seems like only yesterday that I was spending entire lunch breaks and bus rides with our locomotion-deficient avian friend, but after 18 months, I’m pleased to report that Tiny Wings 2.0 has finally arrived.
If you’re not already aware of Tiny Wings, the premise is that you play a relatively plump little bird who is ill-equipped to generate the lift necessary to fly on his own (read: tiny wings). However, his world is populated by a series of frictionless hills, and with your help he can gain speed and take to the skies using pure inertia.
Let’s dig into 2.0 and see what’s new, shall we?
The Rest Of The Story
The first thing I noticed when I launched Tiny Wings 2.0 was the way in which the original game had been expanded upon. Rather than replacing the old game that we’ve poured hours into, the game added a “Chapter 2″ similar to the way Angry Birds or Contre Jour might add more levels.
You may be expecting Tiny Wings 2.0 to be its own app in the App Store, but in fact it is simply an update to the original app.
Chapter 2 has a bit of variation in gameplay. In Chapter 1, every round was played on the same game board, which consisted of a series of islands, and the goal was to progress as far as you could before daylight ran out. Chapter 2 however, is structured a bit differently — it’s a little more level based. You’ll choose one of four birds at the start (each of which contains a fresh save file) and progress to the stage selection screen. There currently appear to be three worlds, but the game promises “new islands coming soon.”
When you begin on stage 1-1, the first thing you’ll notice is that Tiny Wings is no longer a race against daylight. You’ll start at the beginning in a race between you and each of the other birds that you didn’t choose at the chapter select screen. From my relatively brief time playing, this factor significantly increases the stress factor of the game, making it feel more competitive despite the lack of actual human competition.
Controlling you bird has remained identical to the original game. Touch the screen to make your bird’s wings fold in, making him dead weight, which will plummet toward Earth (do this as you enter a valley). Release the screen when climbing a hill to launch the bird into the air and gain momentum. If you didn’t play the original game, this is kind of a difficult concept to put into words, but you’ll get used to it.
While the aesthetics have stayed the same, island construction has come a long way since the original Tiny Wings. Gone are the predictable hilltop/valley sequences. The landscapes are much more difficult to traverse without spilling off all of your inertia, as they contain more flat stretches, nested hills and terrain whose purpose is not quite obvious.
Additionally, there are a few terrain mechanics that have been introduced into the game. First, certain valleys will be filled with water. These valleys are to be avoided at all costs, as they will kill your momentum regardless of your timing. Second, there are “rubber flowers” which can give you a little boost of air when you’re not doing so hot, or can be that perfect savior when you’re about to dive bomb the top of a hill.
As I mentioned before, the premise of Chapter 2 is that you’re in a race with the other birds (described in-game as your siblings) to reach the end of the stage first. This is framed as a “feed,” since whoever arrives at the mother bird first (adorably, the same bird from Chapter 1 of Tiny Wings) gets the biggest fish. There are appropriately sized fish for first, second and third place, one of which must be obtained in order to move on to the next stage — so don’t come in last. Be warned though, the skill level of your sibling birds will probably increase much faster than yours (it did for me).
I will be the first one to admit how much time I put into the original Tiny Wings, a game with an unabashedly simple concept. That said, when I finally completed the challenges, there wasn’t a whole lot of replay value. With the release of Tiny Wings v2.0, I believe that has completely changed for the better.
Not only did the update itself add an amount of content which seems (I haven’t finished it yet) like it will be more game time than version 1, but it also transformed the app itself. Tiny Wings, for all intents and purposes was a stand-alone game. Now, with the introduction of Chapter 2, and more importantly, the “New Islands Coming Soon” teaser, Tiny Wings has the capacity to be a serially updated game, seeing new content along the same lines that players of Angry Birds and similar games are used to.
I love when game developers are able to take an almost diabolically simple game and make it fun to play over and over and over. And the best part about Tiny Wings v2.0 is that it’s a free update for those of you who already own the game! If you don’t already have this one, go get it now.