Angry Birds – the original series – is undoubtedly the king of the App Store. For months upon months it sat at #1 spot in the paid apps chart, and still comfortably claims a place in the top 10. Rovio, the creators of the popular franchise has since launched Angry Birds Seasons, and Rio both of which used virtually the same physics engine and changed little. The latest title, Angry Birds Space, took off and landed on the App Store this morning, and boy, is it different.
When I first heard the title would be here I thought (sarcastically) like many “great, another Angry Birds series.” I assumed everything would be exactly the same, except with a more “spacey” theme. I couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a delightfully different from the other titles, and is the first in the series to get me as excited as I was about the first. It’s a brilliant game.
Instead of having a 2D platform where the gravitational force is constant – like the others – the birds are launched from a catapult in space. Each level contains different planets, or rocks, each with their own gravitational field, with varying levels of force. You sometimes launch from a catapult in the vacuum of space itself, and other times from the surface of the planet. In some levels there are no planets at all, and in others a combination of masses that combine to create two or more intersecting gravitational fields. All this means that you can’t always predict what’s going to happen. Gravity is far from constant.
In between levels is the usual interstitial comic book story to explain how the birds get to the next scene, after supposedly defeating the green pigs’ boss. Like previous titles, you collect bonuses. In this game: eggsteroids. But, unlike the older games – instead of having to access the unlocked bonus level from a separate screen – you are launched through a vortex instantly, and transported back when you’ve completed the level.
Graphics and sound effects are fantastic, and fit well with the Angry Birds series. The birds’ characters have been altered slightly. Each takes on a new superhero type persona. My favorite character – Yellow Bird – has been upgraded and is now purple. His power is awesome. Unlike his predecessor, his high speed dives are targeted. Once you launch him, you tap the desired target indicated by a purple crosshair – and he makes his way directly there with some force. Pigs die in the usual fashion – exploding on impact, unless they’re outside a planet’s atmosphere. In the vacuum of space, they are encased in a protective bubble – pop it and the pig freezes before exploding. Hilariously morbid.
First impressions: brilliant. It’s familiar enough that you know it’s definitely still Angry Birds, but different enough that you’ll be addicted all over again. I love it. It’s available for iPhone and iPod touch, as well as the HD version for iPad, and optimized for the new iPad’s Retina display.
Angry Birds Space – $0.99 – iPhone 3GS/4/4S & iPod touch (3rd/4th gen). Requires iOS 4.0 or later. Link to app.
Angry Birds Space HD – $2.99 – iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later. Link to app.