Angry Birds – A 10 Year Retrospective
Aside from the Angry Bids and Angry Birds Star Wars II blurbs which come from actual reviews I wrote, the other entries above are from roundups, with the date of the roundup being what is listed after the game’s title (many of these are no longer available, so I don’t have original release dates like I would normally include). Since I wrote each of the roundups I have played several of those installments, and true to my original thoughts each one felt like a slight upgrade with different skins rather than a true sequel or successor. The big exception to that was Bad Piggies, which amazingly enough is still available on the App Store.
On occasion Rovio has released a game that actually has nothing to do with Angry Birds, but that is basically irrelevant to this article other than the fact that it’s part of their legacy. Fun fact: Rovio developed mobile games before iOS was even a thing, but they have pretty much erased that part of their history from the books as best as they can. I played one or two of them and actually enjoyed them, but apparently I was in the minority. I’m not sure of the true numbers, but a quick Google search indicates that there may have been as many as 51 published games before Angry Birds became an “overnight success”. Another fun fact: they can belittle Chillingo all they want, but truth is I for one might not have tried the game in the first place had Chillingo not offered me a copy for review. So regardless of what might have come between them, they should give credit where credit is due.
On To The Next Phase
Nowadays if you peruse the App Store or Google Play for Rovio you won’t find a bunch of slingshot wielding variants. In fact, to get a taste of the original your only two choices are Angry Birds 2 or Angry Birds Friends. I’ll leave you to explore those on your own. For the second half of this article I’m going to talk about the games that take the IP into different directions.
Angry Birds Dream Blast [11/12/2018] – First up is one of those games that perverts the match 3 concept by doing away with the typical square board and swapping tiles mechanic and has you instead tapping groups of two or more of the same color to clear them from the screen. I was honestly expecting to write the typical “waste of an IP” speech after playing this game, but it turns out that more developers should take note of this one, because it actually proves that you can take a beloved property and apply it to a new setting without making it seem like a cheap cash grab. A typical board has multiple objects along the lines of tapping so many of a certain color, making sure some objects fall to the bottom of the screen, or destroying things like bricks or ice. Often what is an objective in one level becomes an obstacle in the next, and there are added challenges like spinning floors and chains that need to be unlocked by collecting items of a certain color. Matching four or more of a color gives you a Red, two Reds make a Chuck and two Chucks form a Bomb. These power ups clear rows, columns and surrounding areas respectively, and the bigger the matches the bigger the power ups. There are non-birds related power-ups as well that can be activated at any time throughout the level. The game gives you plenty of opportunities to earn power ups via events and milestone completion, and of course you can supplement your collection at any time via IAP. The visuals are great, the sound effects are fun and the music is sometimes Beetlejuice, sometimes retro Castlevania. It never quite seems to fit with the theme for me, but I like it none the less. If I had one gripe it would be that so far the objectives seem fairly easy, but being as this is meant to be a casual game I can live with that.
Angry Birds Explore [6/3/2019] – You’d have to be a real Angry Birds fan to enjoy this product. I mean, to the point where you’d extinguished all other electronic options and had nothing better to do. It is attempts like this that make me shy away from AR integration. The premise is that you get to explore the famous Bird Island using your phone. In all honesty that sounds more like a VR thing, but we’ll go with it for now. When you load up the application you get three options: The Art Studio, the Worm Garden, and Your Hut. Your hut is simply a pseudo-3D decorating tool, the concept of which I don’t particularly enjoy regardless of the surrounding game. The Art Studio lets you overlay one of the three main birds – Red, Chuck or Bomb – as well as a hatchling onto whatever location your camera can see. You can rotate the birds, provide an action for them to do, and then either snap a picture or take a video. Or at least that’s the claim, as the video option does not seem to work for me. The third area, Worm Garden, must be off limits to me. The game crashes every time I try to access it. There are currently two other areas that you can unlock via “angry” coins, but I for one don’t intend to hang around this island long enough to find out what they offer. Even more so than the recently released Om Nom Merge, this is a case of an at best mediocre product taking advantage of an IP’s fans to try and rake in some undeserved cash.
Angry Birds Pop Blast [3/29/2019] – I’m actually impressed with this game. Given that I’m not a big fan of bubble poppers in the first place I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it does a good job of using the Angry Birds IP without feeling cheap as well as adding a “companion” element that’s kind of nifty. Game play is pretty standard, requiring you to launch bubbles at their like color out on the playing field to clear them away. You can actually get rid of bubbles of a different color, but if the colors don’t match you’ll only clear away a few of them instead of a whole group. Along the way you’ll get objects to help you like TNT and exploding bubbles, and there will also be plenty of obstacles such as ice and wood to get in the way. At the end of each level you’ll earn experience, tokens and up to three stars depending on your final score. The tokens earn you piñatas that deliver character boosts, and the stars give you piñatas filled with power ups. When you get enough character boosts you’ll either unlock a new character to use or level up a character you currently have. You can have a bird and a pig active at any given time, and each has a unique power up that is triggered by collecting red and green bubbles respectively. The levels are complex, multi-screened affairs, and each one has a recommended bird / pig combination for completing it efficiently. There are badges to earn, daily quests to complete, and plenty of mini-events to participate in. But what truly makes this game work is the characters, both in personality and upgradability.