codynewill's Angry Birds (iPhone) review

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(I'm) Angry (at these) Birds

At this point, anyone even remotely knowledgeable about touch screen gaming knows that Angry Birds is one of the top paid iOS games on the App store (currently holding the number two spot). Nearly everyone and their mother has played it and bought its expansions to keep the franchise alive. It has been ported to at least 10 different platforms, and will probably be ported to many more. Hell, there are even t-shirts of Angry Birds. Several of my co-workers sang high praise to me about the app, so I dropped a whole 99 cents on this little moneymaker and psyched myself for a fun, simple App.

Those expectations weren’t met.

A colorful art style doesn't make a great game 
A colorful art style doesn't make a great game 

In Angry Birds, you shoot different breeds of bird from a catapult, blasting the smirking green pigs—they have stolen the birds’ eggs you see—and the shelters they hide under. Sometimes the pigs inhabit stone castles; other times wooden shacks, or even glass houses (though the idiom doesn’t apply here). Certain birds are better suited to blasting through certain materials, and each breed has different characteristics and abilities. Red birds are standard infantry, blue split into three parts, and even a green boomerang bird shows up late in one world.

There are dozens of levels spread throughout several worlds, and you get a star rating at the end of each. There are also some sparkling golden eggs that unlock hidden levels. These are easily the highlight of Angry Birds because they are clever one offs. They exist just for the sake of being silly fun.

The secret levels actually are great fun 
The secret levels actually are great fun 

This is all pretty simple, just like any other iOS game, but Angry Birds is a rotten egg in disguise. Each level requires you to launch your birds at the EXACT right spot, or failure is certain. This wouldn’t be bad with just one bird, but trying to launch five birds in a row at the right spots leads to infuriating trial and error. It doesn’t help that the structures housing the pigs are so strong that hardly any of the normal birds can break through. Even glass is far too strong for all but the explosive and oversized birds.

Inevitably you will fail a level too many times, and get this disgusting message: “Stuck? Buy the Mighty Eagle for 99 cents!!!” Sure, Angry Birds, I’ll spend the exact amount I paid for this app so I can actually beat a level! There isn’t even a level skip—like Cut the Rope—so if you can’t beat a level, you have to either go to another level set or buy the damn Eagle.

It is for this reason that Angry Birds is a shameful product. It holds its players hostage, similar to many micro-transaction games, until they pony up for needless boosts. I expected a quality app along the lines of Cut the Rope, Bumpy Road, or Flight Control. And there are glimpses of greatness in the secret levels. But even at 99 cents, Angry Birds is an exercise in frustration, and an app I will likely no longer play. Some may find themselves able to forgive—or even love—this game based upon the fact that it is a colorful one-dollar app, but I was not.

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