I didn’t understand the popularity of Angry Birds. Week after week, it was perched at the top of the iTunes charts. It seemed that there was a self-fulfilling cycle occurring. The game is in first-place because it is popular and it is popular because it is in first place. How did this madness get started? Is there nothing better than this game? What’s so special about wingless creatures that hurl themselves into blocks and pigs? I decided to investigate the allure of this app.
The game starts off with a straightforward story. The birds are usually peaceful and loving creatures, but they get angry when anything messes with their precious eggs. The green pigs have stolen the eggs and the game is about the birds retaliating.
Even less complicated than the game’s lore is game itself. The main objective is to smash stuff – especially the pigs. The birds use a slingshot to toss themselves into pig territory. It’s a very easy game to control. Touch and hold the bird on the slingshot, pull back the slingshot, aim for the pigs and then let go to fire. Score is based on the amount of damage you can do – by using as few birds as possible. A level is completed when all of the pigs are destroyed.
Stars are awarded based on the score for each level. That’s where Angry Birds becomes extremely difficult. While the game concept and story is simplistic, the level design is actually quite involved. Hitting the three star maximum for each level can be challenging. After playing through some levels, I started to realize why the game was successful. Angry Birds is easy to pick up, but not as easy to put back down.
Angry Birds is only 99¢. Those critters cheep for cheap! Considering that there are hundreds of levels – and seemingly more on the way – it changes an entire gaming industry. (21+21+21) + (21+21) + (15+15+15) + (15+15+15) + (15) = 210 levels! That raises the bar for game developers. If an iOS game charges more than a dollar, it has to be really good. Otherwise, players can point to Rovio Mobile – the makers of Angry Birds. “Their game is cheaper, why isn’t yours?” If this game was released on the Nintendo DS, Wii or PlayStation Portable, it could easy go for $20-$30. The iTunes App Store just doesn’t work that way. Apparently, players don’t want 10% of a game just because it’s available for 99¢.
Surprisingly, many game developers are complying with the player demands. More and more 99¢ apps are appearing. That’s because Angry Birds is the game to beat. How could I hate a game that assists with the proliferation of inexpensive – but high quality – apps?
The music would be a place start. I hate the game’s theme song. It’s awful – like I’m trapped in a bizarre cartoon. I don’t mind the game’s cartoonish graphics – which are iconic and colorful – but the sounds of this game get annoying. The stupid pig laughs and the squawking bird sounds were irritating. The voice acting didn’t feel like game characters to me, more like an adult male making childlike sounds.