What’s up everybody? The birds are back in town, and they’re out of this world in Rovio’s 4th official Angry Birds game, simply titled Angry Birds Space. But does it usher in a new era of avian anger, or are these slingshot bombardments getting a bit old? I’m happy to report that the former is true, and the new gravity based mechanics, awesome new birds, a darker color palate, and bizarrely amusing space aesthetics make this one of the most refreshing and enjoyable titles in the franchise.
For the very few of you who have yet to play an Angry Birds game, here’s the skinny. Birds are good, pigs are bad. You need to stop the pigs by launching kamikaze attack birds from a slingshot, and there are various kinds of bird ammo in your arsenal. You rack up points by causing as much destruction as possible using as few birds as possible, and enough points gets you that coveted three star rating.
Angry Birds Space really mixes things up by including tiny planets with their own clearly defined gravity fields, plus the always fun zero-gravity sections. Overlapping gravity fields make for some very complex and satisfying puzzle scenarios, and watching birds and boards loop around planets is amusing. Plus there are pigs in space bubbles that instantly freeze once popped, so that’s cool. The new gravity fields really mess with your preconceptions regarding how structures will react and crumble, and relearning the game, so to speak, is half of the fun. What all of this adds up to is an extremely novel and refreshing take on the done-to-death classic gameplay that we all know and love.
Now on to the stars of our show, the birds themselves! This time around they’ve got this Flash Gordonesque superheroes in space motif going for them. Each bird is sporting a colorful costume, many of which pay homage, intentionally or not, to some real comic book legends, including The Flash, Cyclops, and The Incredible Hulk. The standard red birds, splitting blue birds, and exploding black birds all make return appearances. The yellow rocket bird has been replaced by the purple laser bird, who zooms towards the exact point that you tap on after firing him. Newcomers also include the ice bird, who behaves just like the bomber, but with a freezing blast that weakens all structures, and the hulking green bird who’s just really big and heavy and that’s about it.
The game comes pre-packaged with sixty standard levels split between two sets. Seeded throughout these levels are hidden treasures which open up portals to the bizarre and unique Eggsteroid levels. Each set is concluded with a great boss fight against the Pig King, in which he surrounds his personal space pod with crazy contraptions, only to get away once beaten. These boss fights were excellent, and I really enjoyed them. The levels aren’t all perfect though. Within the first half of the second set of levels is a handful of ridiculously challenging and frustrating puzzles, but aside from those few, the difficulty curve was near perfect. Already available at launch is the first bonus pack of challenge levels called the Danger Zone. These levels are indeed quite challenging, and available for a one dollar in-app purchase.
The new darker color palate looks great, and is a nice contrasting change from the usually bright and sunny look of the games. Everything from the remixed theme song to the new costumes feel like an improvement to me. The wacky sci-fi setting only means that Rovio can be even more creative and random than ever, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with this title in the numerous future updates that we’re sure to see. Game Center achievements and leaderboards are, of course, supported. Angry Birds Space is available for one dollar at the time of this review, or for three dollars on the iPad. This game gives the series a much needed shake-up, and I’m sure it’ll reign supreme for many months to come, deservingly so.