When Andreas Illiger’s Tiny Wings hit the iOS game scene in February of last year it captured the imaginations of gamers of all types, and the praise of critics, for its simple habit-forming one-touch gameplay and beautifully mellow graphics and soundtrack. Fans have been asking for more, and iPad gamers have been clambering for a native build for what seems like forever. Today, everyone got their wishes granted. Illiger didn’t release a new Tiny Wings 2 with different game mechanics as many expected. Instead he added a new mode to the original, which is available as a free update, and released Tiny Wings HD, optimized for the Retina display iPad. It has the original game, the same new content as in the iPhone update, and a special treat for the big screen.
Aside from the pixel-dense new graphics in Tiny Wings HD, there is also the primary game. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it involves helping a little bird whose wings are too tiny to keep him airborne use the dips in his hilly world to gain momentum and fly to as many islands as possible before the sun sets. There are missions to accomplish like collecting a certain number of coins, making perfect swoops, or reaching a certain distance in a single run. Completing three unlocks a new nest and adds a score multiplier. The art is muted and absolute eye candy, the soundtrack is ambient and soothing and the endless gameplay utterly addictive.
Both the update and Tiny Wings HD have a new chapter, Flight School. Here, your bird races three AI opponents across hilly levels in a sprint to the finish. The mechanics are the same, but there are new elements at play. Flowers make the bird spring forward quickly, while landing in a valley with a pond slows him even more than a crash. The terrain in successive races gets more difficult and the game ends when your bird fails to place in the top three. This mode begs for multiplayer, but even against the machine it’s a lot of fun and a nice change from endless flying. There are no score-multiplying objectives here, but there are medals to win in 15 new levels.
There is some multiplayer action, but only for iPad. A third chapter, Hill Party, splits the screen allowing for head-to-head races on a single device. The first to score 10,000 points on five levels wins.
It’s hard not to hope that Illiger tries something entirely different soon; his aesthetics and understanding of what makes a game addictive is prodigious. Still, the iPhone update is a great gift to existing players, and the new HD version is perfect. Update if you haven’t yet, or swoop in for a first time to see casual iOS gaming at its finest.