Rovio’s popular Angry Birds series rejuvenated itself with a new game title on March 22, 2012… this time, set in space.
As expected, the Angry Birds franchise, which launched in 2009 is wearing a bit thin as something from the recent past (it was last decade, afterall). However, the new game dynamics of Angry Birds Space really make up for any loss of caring created by Rovio’s oversaturation of the property; including plush toys, band aids, retail store exposure in the US and dedicated store plans in China and Finland, and yes, even the inevitable theme park. The game’s space dynamics completely–albeit temporarily–make up for any franchise burnout.
The premise is simple. Play angry birds. In space.
In other words, the realistic gravity that you always relied on to faceplant your bird directly into the backside of an ugly green pig is gone. What comes in it’s place is an even more realistic expression of how and what gravity actually is. This is accomplished by making much of the playing area zero gravity, such that if you hurl a bird, it will continue going forever in a linear path. Actual challenging gameplay is made possible by areas that are under the gravitational influence of nearby objects. These areas are indicated by a translucent blue sphere.
Did I mention that the physics involved in making an Angry Birds go to space type of game possible was a collaberation between Rovio and NASA? Yes, that NASA. While the gravity effects seem to be localized to a singular central point within the spheres of gravitational influence as opposed to linked to objects of mass (which I can’t verify, but assume based on game play), it is still believable enough after a few levels to be engaging.
The downsides? Rovio is making a rather noticable blunder in not bringing Angry Birds space to Windows Phone. Also, it appears that the third level of the game will require users to pay for the game, which due to the need for revenue is understandable, but the UI doesn’t seem to indicate that fact at first in the free version, and that can be quite annoying. These levels are offered free for a period of time for the users of devices from certain manufacturers. Finally, no matter how much you change game play to spice up an aging–in mobile years, of course–franchise, the fatigue returns after a few levels or so. All in all, these downsides, with franchise fatigue taking the largest toll, took an othwise four-star game (out of a possible five) and dropped it down to a mediocre three stars.
Technical note: The game was reviewed for this article on Samsung devices, phone and tablet, running various versions of the Android operating system.