Angry Birds never quite clicked with me. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to pinpoint what makes this franchise stand out from the pack.
I have tons of respect for what the series has done not only for iOS but also the game industry as a whole, yet the why behind the popularity of sling shooting birds at pigs has eluded me. That is, until I played Angry Birds Space, a game changing addition to one of the most popular franchises in the world.
If you’re reading this website, you’ve played Angry Birds in some form before. The basics haven’t changed: destroy the pigs and their structures with your arsenal of birds. Using fewer birds to complete this goal and causing more damage at the same time awards you more points, which translate into stars based on how high you score.
What makes Angry Birds Space different are the space-themed mechanics. Due to the lack of gravity in space, your birds move straight unless pulled into the gravity field of an asteroid. When this happens, the bird will circle the asteroid until flinging out of orbit or hitting an obstacle. Also, if a pig ends up outside of an asteroid’s atmosphere without the protection of a bubble, it’ll freeze to death. It’s cruel, cold justice for these petty thieves.
In place of the “golden eggs” hidden amongst levels from previous games are “eggsteroids.” These shiny eggs are easy to spot and collect but offer some excellent bonus levels that pay homage to classic franchises such as Space Invaders, Breakout and Super Mario Brothers. They’re short but offer a nice break from the uniform level design.
Your flock is quite similar to that of previous games with two exceptions. First is the triangle shaped bird, which now boosts in the direction you tap. There’s also the entirely new Ice Bird that freezes any objects it touches, including pigs. It also has a special freeze blast that freezes everything within a radius but destroys the bird. Joining these are the normal bird, triple bird, large bird and bomb bird.
The Mighty Eagle also makes a return as the slightly less powerful Space Eagle. While still more powerful than regular birds, it doesn’t have the same screen clearing effect of its mighty brother. There’s also the fact that it’s now a consumable item instead of a one-time in-app purchase with a recharge timer. This is both a boon and a curse: it allows the developers to award eagles for clearing certain checkpoints in the game but means that, should you decide to spend real money for more, your purchase won’t go as far.
There’s also the issue of day one downloadable content that puts 1/3 of the content (30 levels) behind a pay wall. It’s a shady business practice; one that the console game Mass Effect 3 recently came under heavy fire for utilizing. While the full game is worth $1.99, I would have rather paid the full price up front. That said, the levels in this extra pack are amongst the most interesting in the game and are well worth the cost.
I tested the game on both iPhone and iPad and while the latter looks incredible on the new iPad’s retina display, it’s a hard sell at three times the price. At such a steep cost, the iPad version should at least include the day one DLC for free, but alas it does not. Unless you must play the game on the big screen or only have an iPad, stick with the less expensive iPhone version.
When all is said and done, Angry Birds Space is well worth whatever price you’re willing to pay for it. That goes for the hundreds of millions of Angry Birds fanatics as well as those who have fallen out of favor with the series or simply never cared. This is the sequel you’ve been waiting for.