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APPraisal: Angry Birds

May 26, 2010

Things have been kinda quiet here on the APPraisal front, but not because there’s a lack of great iPhone / iPod Touch apps out there.  Whether about apps or music or life, I generally only post when I have something to say.  I don’t post just to post.  For APPraisal, that means using an app enough to be able to talk about it meaningfully and give an honest opinion, and while I’ve downloaded and dabbled with several apps over the last few weeks, I haven’t used most of them enough to talk fairly about.  However, if the lack of APPraisal posts just makes you want to fling a bird at a brick wall (or even if it doesn’t), you may want to know more about Angry Birds.

Premise

Those dastardly green pigs have made off with the birds precious eggs.  With their very future at stake, the angry birds strike back to get revenge on evil green pigs and reclaim their stolen eggs.  Angry Birds, from Rovio, is best described as a physics-based catapult puzzle game, in which you  fling birds via a catapult at various obstacles to destroy the pigs.  Each level starts you off with pre-determined set of birds that have varying abilities.  The game loads each bird into the catapult, and you determine the angle and speed it flies, and tap to activate special abilities in-flight.  Destroy all the evil pigs and you move on to the next level.

As you progress in levels, you get new birds to fling, and the evil pigs build more devious structures to protect themselves with.  In the current version (v1.3.2), there are 3 episodes equaling 135 levels, with at least 15 more coming in a free update.  There are also special golden eggs hidden throughout the game that when found unlock secrets.  The game also has leaderboards and achievements via Crystal, as well as Facebook and Twitter integration.

Presentation

With each screen representing a level, the graphics don’t need to be that complicated, but they do the job nicely.  It’s common these days to make the background move separately for the foreground for a depth effect, and they do that in Angry Birds, but they’ve avoided the temptation of making the backgrounds overly busy.  That’s ruined some otherwise great games for me, but it’s not a problem here.

The intro and menu music is cute but gets old quickly.  It stops in the levels though, and the sound effects there off pigs laughing, explosions, etc are repetitive after awhile but not really too annoying.

I haven’t experienced any problem with the framerate.  Birds have been tossed at a nice smooth rate.

Interface

There is not much in the way of control.  Once past the menus and into the levels, you really only do a couple of things.  You can swipe left and right to scroll the level to see everything, since often your objective is off the far side.  You launch a bird by pulling the catapult back with your finger and adjusting the trajectory, and lift your finger to launch.  To activate a special ability, like the little blue birds splitting into 3, just tap the screen in mid-flight.  Trajectory and timing is everything, if you want to make sure that those evil piggies go down!

Freshness

Catapult games are nothing new, but when done right they can be frustrating yet addictive fun.  Angry Birds is like that.  There are some levels that make me pull my hair out trying to beat, and others where I get 3 stars and a great score.  Most, however, seem to hit that middle ground, where you’re close on the first couple of tries, and just have to work out the best way to succeed.  I have yet to be stuck on any level, which is good since you need to finish levels to unlock more.  I’ve put down several games where I reached a point I just didn’t seem to get past, but that hasn’t happened to me in Angry Birds.

Value

Angry Birds costs a buck, and is currently the #1 paid app on the iTunes store.  It’s been that way for awhile, for good reason.  At 135 levels (and counting) there’s plenty of value there.  With the level rating system and the achievements, there’s good cause to go back and try to best yourself on any given level.  I’m still working my way through the levels, with just over half of them beaten to date.

Sometimes you see an app at the top of the charts for $.99 and wonder what kind of farting app is up there now.  Despite the odd name and seemingly odd premise, Angry Birds is a shining example of a great game that is continually updated by the developer and will cost you very little.  Don’t even bother with the Lite version, just drop a dollar on the full version of Angry Birds and start flinging ’em!

Summary

Premise: Decent
Presentation: Good
Interface: Good
Freshness: Great
Value: Awesome
Overall: Great App

Want more?  ‘Appy to oblige.  Check out my other APPraisals.

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