Angry Birds: Halloween Review

Posted by SuicidalSnowman (396 posts) -
Angry Birds is clearly a leader in smartphone gaming.  Although the game has undergone several free updates adding new levels, new worlds, and at times, new birds, apparently Rovio Mobile decided it was time to cash in on their success, and released Angry Birds: Halloween as a separate download. 
 
Whooo... spooky trees! 
Priced at $0.99 in the iTunes App store, surely this game will draw some quick criticism from outraged fans.  After all, since my purchase of the original game over a year ago, they have added 2 new worlds with 90 full levels between them, for free.  Why suddenly an extra charge for 45 levels? 
 
Ok, so gripes about the pricing scheme aside, what is the actual game like?  Well, first and foremost, it is more Angry Birds.  You still shoot 7 different types of birds at structures made of wood, stone, and glass blocks in an effort to kill all the  green pigs.  You are still scored based on destruction and efficiency, and there are still a variety of stars to earn, as well as Game Center high scores and achievements.  The "story" is also still told through single frame, non-animated cartoons every 15 levels or so.  Nothing in terms of the underlying gameplay has changed.  And that is a good thing.  Angry Birds: Halloween continues to offer some of the best gameplay on any mobile device.  The controls still function perfectly, the game is still an expert balance of skill and luck, and it remains playable in short bursts. 
 
Creative new terrain designs are a good thing, and a bad thing. 
That is all well and good, but there surely needs to be some changes to justify the extra dollar price tag.  Many of them are entirely cosmetic.  There is new spooky theme music and a new Halloween themed menu.  The music is actually a lot better than in the original, in my opinion.  Additionally, the level backgrounds are a fairly typical Halloween inspired art style, and there are new level objects including lanterns and pumpkins.  These replace the beach balls, ducks, and various food items from the original Angry Birds.  The pumpkins are interesting, as some of them are carved Jack O'Lanterns, which burst into bats when destroyed.  The effect is well done.  Also, some of the pigs now hide inside the pumpkins, but this is similar in effect to either the yellow hard hats or grey helmets from the original.  

A simple re-skinning, while polished, is not enough to support an additional charge.  The new levels, however, make a much better case.  There are 45 new levels, plus one additional secret level, and they are excellent.  The designs are inventive and fun, with frequent nods to the holiday.  What I find enjoyable was the addition of some more "puzzle" levels that required a little bit of thinking to complete.  While throwing exploding birds at massive castles is fun, it is a nice change of pace to have the think to hit your first bird on the top rock, which will then cascade down into all the pigs.  So far none have been too finicky or picky, but the level of challenge is still there.  Some levels took me quite a few tries to complete.  Once completed, of course, you can go back and attempt to earn 3 star ratings in each level.  On the first pass, I was able to 3 star about a quarter of the levels.  As an Angry Birds veteran, this indicates to me a nice level of challenge, without being frustratingly difficult. 
 
Yep, it looks like a pumpkin... 
My complaints are few.  This game trades in the mostly flat level terrain for some wild, varied designs.  While this is a great development and adds difficulty and strategy to many of the levels, it caused occasional problems.  There were a few times when objects fell pretty heavily on the pigs, and they did not die.  Once, a stone piece came flying down from off the screen and landed directly on a pig.  Neither popped, in fact somehow the stone piece perched perfectly on the round pigs head.  None of these occurrences have prevented me from enjoying the game. 
 
My second complaint is the pricing scheme.   I personally am not at all against developers charging for games, but when a game that was previously being updated gets new graphics and suddenly costs money, it stings.  I feel like developer Rovio is saying "Thanks for supporting us when we weren't huge, but now that we are big enough we are going to stick it to you as much as we can!" 
 
To be fair, you do get a full set of 45 new levels, and 1 secret level. 
So the true test is, is this game worth the purchase?  Overall, I would say yes, it is.  If you have never played Angry Birds before, I would still say start with the original.  It does a better job teaching you the mechanics, and has tons more content, for the same price.  If you played the original but never finished it, you are not going to find anything here to change your mind.  If, however, you are like most and really enjoyed the original, this game definitely has enough here to warrant the price.  While not quite the "Must Buy" that the original is, Angry Birds: Halloween provides plenty of levels, fun, and sharp new graphics to make it worth your purchase.  Very highly recommended.
#1 Posted by SuicidalSnowman (396 posts) -
Angry Birds is clearly a leader in smartphone gaming.  Although the game has undergone several free updates adding new levels, new worlds, and at times, new birds, apparently Rovio Mobile decided it was time to cash in on their success, and released Angry Birds: Halloween as a separate download. 
 
Whooo... spooky trees! 
Priced at $0.99 in the iTunes App store, surely this game will draw some quick criticism from outraged fans.  After all, since my purchase of the original game over a year ago, they have added 2 new worlds with 90 full levels between them, for free.  Why suddenly an extra charge for 45 levels? 
 
Ok, so gripes about the pricing scheme aside, what is the actual game like?  Well, first and foremost, it is more Angry Birds.  You still shoot 7 different types of birds at structures made of wood, stone, and glass blocks in an effort to kill all the  green pigs.  You are still scored based on destruction and efficiency, and there are still a variety of stars to earn, as well as Game Center high scores and achievements.  The "story" is also still told through single frame, non-animated cartoons every 15 levels or so.  Nothing in terms of the underlying gameplay has changed.  And that is a good thing.  Angry Birds: Halloween continues to offer some of the best gameplay on any mobile device.  The controls still function perfectly, the game is still an expert balance of skill and luck, and it remains playable in short bursts. 
 
Creative new terrain designs are a good thing, and a bad thing. 
That is all well and good, but there surely needs to be some changes to justify the extra dollar price tag.  Many of them are entirely cosmetic.  There is new spooky theme music and a new Halloween themed menu.  The music is actually a lot better than in the original, in my opinion.  Additionally, the level backgrounds are a fairly typical Halloween inspired art style, and there are new level objects including lanterns and pumpkins.  These replace the beach balls, ducks, and various food items from the original Angry Birds.  The pumpkins are interesting, as some of them are carved Jack O'Lanterns, which burst into bats when destroyed.  The effect is well done.  Also, some of the pigs now hide inside the pumpkins, but this is similar in effect to either the yellow hard hats or grey helmets from the original.  

A simple re-skinning, while polished, is not enough to support an additional charge.  The new levels, however, make a much better case.  There are 45 new levels, plus one additional secret level, and they are excellent.  The designs are inventive and fun, with frequent nods to the holiday.  What I find enjoyable was the addition of some more "puzzle" levels that required a little bit of thinking to complete.  While throwing exploding birds at massive castles is fun, it is a nice change of pace to have the think to hit your first bird on the top rock, which will then cascade down into all the pigs.  So far none have been too finicky or picky, but the level of challenge is still there.  Some levels took me quite a few tries to complete.  Once completed, of course, you can go back and attempt to earn 3 star ratings in each level.  On the first pass, I was able to 3 star about a quarter of the levels.  As an Angry Birds veteran, this indicates to me a nice level of challenge, without being frustratingly difficult. 
 
Yep, it looks like a pumpkin... 
My complaints are few.  This game trades in the mostly flat level terrain for some wild, varied designs.  While this is a great development and adds difficulty and strategy to many of the levels, it caused occasional problems.  There were a few times when objects fell pretty heavily on the pigs, and they did not die.  Once, a stone piece came flying down from off the screen and landed directly on a pig.  Neither popped, in fact somehow the stone piece perched perfectly on the round pigs head.  None of these occurrences have prevented me from enjoying the game. 
 
My second complaint is the pricing scheme.   I personally am not at all against developers charging for games, but when a game that was previously being updated gets new graphics and suddenly costs money, it stings.  I feel like developer Rovio is saying "Thanks for supporting us when we weren't huge, but now that we are big enough we are going to stick it to you as much as we can!" 
 
To be fair, you do get a full set of 45 new levels, and 1 secret level. 
So the true test is, is this game worth the purchase?  Overall, I would say yes, it is.  If you have never played Angry Birds before, I would still say start with the original.  It does a better job teaching you the mechanics, and has tons more content, for the same price.  If you played the original but never finished it, you are not going to find anything here to change your mind.  If, however, you are like most and really enjoyed the original, this game definitely has enough here to warrant the price.  While not quite the "Must Buy" that the original is, Angry Birds: Halloween provides plenty of levels, fun, and sharp new graphics to make it worth your purchase.  Very highly recommended.
#2 Posted by InfamousBIG (3217 posts) -

Good review.  I think I need to go buy the first.

#3 Posted by SuicidalSnowman (396 posts) -

Yeah, especially at 99 cents, the first is a MUCH better value if you have neither.  There is a ton of content as well.  Thanks for the kind remarks!

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