There used to be a trend in gaming during the late 90’s and early noughties where games would get more complicated each year in order to be a good game. Thank goodness that trend quickly faded. We are now in the age of casual gaming. Games like Farmville and Plants vs. Zombies are great examples of how the simplest concept can be turned into an extremely addictive game. The best-selling game on Apple’s iTunes last year was a little title named Angry Birds. You might have heard of it?
Angry Birds shot to fame for its simple and devilishly addictive gameplay, uncomplicated controls and very cute characters. It sold millions on iPod, iPad and iPhone devices. Realising the huge potential of this game, the developers quickly released a version for Android devices, this time free of charge. Then in early January of 2011, Angry Birds was released on PC via the new Intel AppUp application download service. Unfortunately the PC version is the most expensive version. Fortunately it is still only $4.99.
The premise of Angry Birds is very simple: The evil green pigs have stolen the birds’ eggs and plan to make some omelettes, thus the birds need to afflict revenge for that dastardly deed. And the only way they know how to do that is to launch themselves at the pigs using a huge catapult – kamikaze-style.
The pigs don’t like that very much, so they’ve built an assortment of forts to protect themselves from these crazy angry birds. Being the clever pigs that they are, these forts are built up out of various materials they’ve found lying around, including wood, stone, ice, snow and glass. But the birds are even smarter (or blind with rage) and realise that every obstacle has a specific bird suited for the job. Some birds cut through wood like a hot knife through butter. Other, bigger birds are quite adept at knocking over big towers. Some others even explode when making contact with a fort.
As a game, Angry Birds succeeds in the most vital of areas: firstly, it is simple. Every level has some pigs in a fort, and these forts need to be knocked down and the pigs destroyed. You are given a limited amount of birds to use for this task. Using the catapult you simply fire the birds at the correct angle and velocity to accomplish this goal. Since the forts are made of different materials, the different types of birds supplied will either make your job very easy, or very hard. Be prepared to try each level more than a few times!
Secondly, the game has the most uncomplicated controls, and considering that this title was designed for the touch-screens of Android and Apple devices, this is no big surprise. On the PC version your finger is replaced with a virtual finger controlled by the mouse. All you need to do is pull back on the catapult, and release to let the birdie go. By pulling back further and adjusting the angle of release you get a wide variety of shots. This simple control scheme does not make the game easy though.
Lastly, the level design is simple, yet extremely tough at times. This instils the feeling of ‘just one more try’ every time you play the game. This addictiveness is amazingly hard to achieve by most game developers, yet when it is pulled off this well, you wonder how it could possibly be this hard to do.
There are loads of levels available, and on Android and Apple devices you can get free versions with different themes, like ‘Christmas’ and ‘Halloween,’ which provides even more levels. Each level is scored in the amount of damage done, as well as the amount of birds left over after. This score then gives you a star rating of 1 to 3. Getting 3 gold stars is not that easy and will take lots of practice. This allows replayability and a certain amount of obsession to creep in.
Angry Birds is light on resources and heavy on entertainment. For the price (especially the free Android version) you will not find a more addictive and well-polished game. It is quirky, funny and weird. I mean, what sort of bird tries to protect its stolen eggs by dropping eggs on the thieves? I highly recommend Angry Birds for any platform of your choosing, but the iPad and PC versions with their bigger screens surely make them the platform of choice.
- The Good: quirky, and very addictive, well-polished.
- The Bad: Nothing, really.
- The Ugly: save your eggs, by dropping eggs on your enemies!