Review – Angry Birds Space (iOS)

Honestly, I’ve never been that into Angry Birds. I understand the appeal, and can appreciate the simplified gaming mechanics and accessibility, but it was never something that held my attention. With over 500 million units sold across multiple platforms and game releases, I was bound and determined to give Angry Birds Space a fair shake. The results were nearly amazing.

The Explanation

If you live under an unreasonably large rock and don’t know how Angry Birds works, let me fill you in. Angry Birds Space, like its predecessors, is a physics-based puzzle game where your objective is to shoot birds from a slingshot into an environment and kill green pigs, who happen to have stolen your flock’s eggs. The player’s arsenal expands from the basic bird to birds with various different powers, each being effective for taking out pigs/particular environmental obstacles. Killing pigs and destroying the environment gives the player points, and after all of the pigs on a level have been defeated, your score is rated out of 3 stars. This is all wrapped in a simple, crisp, cutesy package that has wonderfully designed characters that everyone can identify with. Simple enough, right?

The New

Well, maybe it was before. Angry Birds Space, as the title implies, takes place in space. Those dastardly pigs are at it again, stealing your eggs and pissing off the bird community. You take your flock through a wormhole, going after the pigs, and in the process, gain space powers. The major mechanical change of Angry Birds Space is that of gravity. Gravity in previous titles worked in much the way it does in normal day-to-day life, where things rise and fall at a normal rate. Angry Birds Space takes place in environments where the gravitational pull of a “planet” can be seen as a pulsing blue aura around it. Your job is to shoot birds through differing gravitational pulls to complete the aforementioned objectives.

This is the part that is excellent fun.

The Good

Angry Birds Space does a lot of things very well. The gameplay is just as solid as ever. No dips in framerate, no strange graphical glitches, and no major accessibility problems. This game does amazing things for teaching you about gravity and inertia, and though it won’t win any awards with all the science teachers out there, you’ll be pulling off maneuvers that you certainly wouldn’t have thought possible when you started playing. Each of the birds has a unique power, and each has different uses that aren’t always apparent from the start. For instance, the Spread Shot Bird (official name sanctioned by me) is great for taking out large walls of glass, but can also be deployed to take out one target with one bird and have the other two circle around a planet to take something else out. Angry Birds Space has a bit of randomness introduced into the puzzles, as they are physics-based, and you never feel PIGEONHOLED into a specific way of beating the level. There are usually a few different ways out, and that freedom to explore makes the game that much more fun. As far as replay value, there is a ton. Not only are there 60 full levels to explore, but there are Eggstroid levels to unlock by finding secrets hidden in the environment. These levels are spoofs of retro video games, and can be some of the most fun levels in the game. On top of all this, you can always go back and get a better score on levels until you get three stars on each, not to mention the Space Eagle mode, which essentially creates a new gameplay mode where both your score and the way the game is played change. Angry Birds Space is also extremely easy to pick up and play for both small and extended play sessions. There isn’t much more that you can ask for.

This is the part that'll get ya.

The Not So Good

However, and there is always a however, there are a few issues. The “boss battles,” if you want to call them that, are dumb. They aren’t hard, and they don’t have any climactic atmosphere that boss battles thrive in. You WILL encounter levels that will stump you for a bit. The difficulty isn’t terribly even across the board, but it shouldn’t be something that will hinder your overall experience. Being new to the series, I didn’t pick up on the fact that destroying everything in the environment is sometimes more important than killing all the pigs with one bird. There were certainly several “WTF” moments where I killed them all with one bird, had what I suspected to be an amazing score, and was awarded one star. Being that they are secret, I can’t be too upset, but the Eggstroid levels are pretty hard to find (I only found 2 organically through my initial play through of the game). I did have some semi-consistent control issues, where I would be aiming somewhere, and when I released, there would be a slight nudge higher or lower. I also had issues hitting the restart button with my thumb. Both of these control issues could be due to user error/larger fingers issues. My biggest squawk with Angry Birds Space is the in-app purchases. I didn’t realize that the Space Eagle consumables that I was throwing away on a whim would come back to bite me in the ass. Having to pay a dollar for additional levels, especially challenging ones (The Danger Zone) is understandable. Paying money for a consumable that allows me to play the game in what I would describe as a separate play mode is a bit ludicrous. I’m also not a fan of the ads that you get when pausing the game, but at such a low price point, and being that they are less obtrusive than most, I’ll give it a pass.

The Verdict

The experience of playing Angry Birds Space is sublime. This is a game that is easy to pick up, play, put down, and come back to anytime. Furthermore, it is another one of those iOS games that will make you say, “I’ll give this level one more try.” Two hours later, buried in Mt. Dew cans, you wonder where your night went. I would suggest that if you like playing games that are fun and don’t mind nested purchases within your apps, give Angry Birds Space a chance. My inaugural flight with Angry Birds Space was a successful one. I have been converted.

-Like games
-Enjoy fun
-Can’t get enough bird-slinging action
-Are new to the series and looking to dive in

-Are on the fence with how you feel about Angry Birds
-Have skepticism that the formula is just a retread of familiar ground

-Hate Angry Birds
-Can’t stand games that are super easy to play
-Hate simple graphics

Rating - 4/5

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