Wow, I am dazzled. That’s unusual even with amazing new games, much less sequels of sequels. I have never been a big physics gamer and had grown a bit weary writing so often about the original Angry Birds, Seasons, Rio and what seem like infinite variations on the theme. I was curious about Angry Birds Space, Rovio’s forth instalment, and confident the game would be extraordinarily well-executed, but did not expect to be launched out of my socks. Yet here I am barefoot and eager to fill you in and get back to playing. This is the best Angry Birds by far.
There’s nothing new really; simple pictorial instructions let you know what the redesigned-for-space-faring aviator’s powers are, but it’s the same birds vs. pigs catapult game we all know well. The physics, however, are radically altered. There is no gravity to pull a bird into a descending arc, so a straight projectile is inertia in motion on display. There are also planets that exert gravitational fields. The birds curve into their swine-foes often completing elliptical orbits more than once to hit them. They can fly backwards out of the slingshot too. Don’t panic though. You don’t need to know the principles that govern the universe. The flight path is clearly indicated before blast-off. As always, it’s easy to learn from mistakes and correct them on a redo.
But there is much more here than new gravitational fields; I am over the moon for the vortex I stumbled upon by fluke which launched me into one of several mini-games that doff their hats at classic arcade games like Space Invaders.
The level of difficulty has changed too, unless I morphed into a much better puzzler in the wee hours. The extra guidance helped me make it through the first 20 levels easily. There is still trial and error, but whether it’s the hidden surprises or the new dynamics, the pace feels faster and the early puzzles easier. That said, according to The Daily’s Angry Birds Space Guide, for the new Danger Zone (available for in-app purchase), game designers were told to go wild, so those levels should drive even the most seasoned bird-flingers into blissful exasperation.
Angry Birds Space has a stellar new look. Everything from the birds and pigs to the level completion screens have been redesigned. And they truly pop. Most of the flyers have the same abilities with a space-age spit shine, but there is a new Ice Bird who has freezing power. There are also several varieties of pig that have more or less strength and some serious boss swine.
Rovio has spoken of becoming the next Disney and until somewhere around 4:30 a.m. I thought that was hubris. Having had a chance to play, I don’t know if a Finland-based theme park and dedicated Angry Birds TV channel will take off, but for Angry Birds Space, the folks at Rovio deserve every ounce of their inevitable continued success. Angry Birds Space is also available on iPad for $3.99.