Publisher: Rovio Entertainment
Platform: By this point pretty much any touchscreen-enabled mobile device, game console, and current generation computer OS has a version of the game.
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (original IOS release)
ESRB: E for everyone
Format: digital download
Angry birds is a 2D physics puzzle video game.
The concept behind the game is that a bunch of pigs, who look like they were crossbred with peas, have stolen the eggs of several birds for some nefarious purpose. The pigs want to eat the eggs after being tired of subsisting on plants. The birds are justifiably angry about all this. With the help of several other birds and a big slingshot, they head out to get their eggs back.
Angry Birds isn’t really anything new. The ideal behind the mechanics of the game has been around a for quite a while in other incarnations like the early 90’s toy Crossbows and Catapults or Angry Birds’ direct predecessor Crush the Castle.
Each level is laid out with the slingshot on the left of the map with the line up of birds the player will use in succession. On the right, the pigs wait in a makeshift structure. It is constructed of stacked blocks of varying sizes and shapes made of different materials; usually stone, wood, and glass. Some levels have other items and blocks made of materials like ice, snow, and dynamite.
The goal of each level is to fling the birds and kill the pigs, usually by way of destroying their structure. The blocks aren’t held together, so it is possible on several levels to destroy one block of the structure and have the entire thing collapse on itself. This all seems simple in theory, but in practice it becomes a matter of strategy, calculating trajectories, and resource management.
Each level is only completed when all of the pigs have been killed. If the player runs out of birds they fail.
Scoring is based on how much property damage has been accrued and how many birds are left over. A final tally of points is added up, and the player is awarded up to three stars.
There a several different birds, each with their own uses, and some have special abilities that can be activated when the bird is in flight. Special abilities cannot be activated once the bird has hit something.
- Red: A round, red, bird that is best against stone.
- The Blues: A tiny, blue, bird that is best against glass and ice. Its special ability is that, when activated, it will split into three birds similar to a MIRV.
- Chuck: a triangular, yellow, bird that is best against wood. Its special ability is that, when activated, it will cannon to the right with a boost of speed.
- Bomb: An small, explosive, bird covered in a hard shell of black feathers. If it is not detonated, it will land, the initial impact removing the shell, and explode after three seconds.
- Matilda: A large, white, bird. Its special ability is that, when activated, it will drop an explosive egg straight down, and then fling off to the upper-right having lost most of its mass.
- Al: A toucan with a green body. Its special ability is that, when activated, it will spin back to the left like a boomerang. When doing so, it is best against wood.
- Terence: A larger, darker, version of Red. It carries a lot of inertia with it, acting like a big wrecking ball.
- Bubbles: An orange bird that inflates like a balloon when its special ability is activated or it hits something. It deflates shortly after.
- Mighty Eagle: A premium DLC bird that functions differently than the others. When chosen, the remaining birds in the level are replaced by a can of sardines. The can is flung from the slingshot, then shortly after Mighty Eagle comes crashing down, killing all the pigs, and causing an earthquake. The game’s normal scoring system is replaced by a destruction meter.
The cartoony, family-friendly, cuteness of the game, along with its simple to understand, challenging to master, game play, and the fact that its release was remarkably well-timed, near the birth of wide-spread smartphone use, made Angry Birds the mobile game to play. People young and old have passed hours upon hours with the game, many of whom upgraded their mobile phones to smartphones and bought tablet PCs specifically to play Angry Birds.
Beyond making a relatively unknown Finnish indie game studio into a staggering financial success, it showed how lucrative the mobile game market could be. Small, gimmicky, games made quickly and selling on the cheap have become a big industry in a relatively short period of time. This lead to some at the major video game companies, most notably Nintendo, to comment that mobile gaming killed the handheld console market. However, since the current generation of handheld consoles, i.e. Nintendo DS, 3DS, and Playstation Vita are still making money, whether they are dead or in their death rattle remains to be seen..
While the original Angry Birds keeps getting new updates to this day, it has also had a few spin offs.
- Angry Birds Seasons: Seasonal themed levels
- Angry Birds Rio: A marketing tie-in with Fox’s animated movie Rio.
- Angry Birds Space: Some of the birds get light mechanical and costume upgrades, while the game’s difficulty is ramped up due to the addition of having to navigate gravity wells and gravity free space.
- Angry Birds Star Wars: The birds are Rebels. The pigs are Imperials. Need I say more?
- Bad Piggies: A prequel from the point of view of the pigs stealing the eggs. This game is about building wacky vehicles to navigate 2D obstacle courses.
There have been numerous stuffed toys, Crossbows and Catapults style toy sets, children’s books, comic books, an animated show, and even an amusing animated short for 2012’s Freddie For A Day.