Angry Birds Space – Review

Title   Angry Birds Space
Developer  Rovio Mobile
Publisher  Rovio Mobile
Platform  iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Genre  Strategy, Puzzle
Release Date  March 22, 2012

Here’s a conversation that I like to imagine has happened at Rovio every few months for the last three years.

“Our new game is finished! It’ll stretch current generation hardware to breaking point, but it’s completely new. The engine alone will take the world by storm; we’re redefining gaming in every possible way!”

“Yeah, we’ll not be releasing that. Could you just make another game where you throw birds at pigs?”

“But it’s the future of gaming!”

“No, we checked. The future of gaming is throwing birds at pigs on your mobile phone. Do that again.”

“But they’re not even really pigs! They’re green and have no legs!”


So, Angry Birds then. For the benefit of those who’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, it’s a puzzle game that started out on the iPhone, in which you use the touchscreen to launch various coloured birds with different abilities at pigs that have fortified themselves in rickety buildings made of wood, ice and concrete. One of your birds can split into multiple smaller birds, one can zoom really fast, one can drop exploding egg bombs, and so on.

It’s been a sensation and has been ported to just about every platform ever released, spawning numerous sequels, including a tie-in with the film Rio. Such is the success that this year Rovio are sponsoring a Formula 1 driver. No, really; Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen’s racing helmet is painted up as the red bird, go and have a look. And what happens in those sequels? Well, you launch various coloured birds with different abilities at pigs that have fortified themselves in rickety buildings made of wood, ice and concrete. Oh, the background graphics are a bit different too.

Now that Angry Birds Space has been released, you’ll be launching various coloured birds with different abilities at pigs that have fortified themselves in rickety buildings made of wood, ice and concrete in space then, will you? Well, yes and no. Yes, because that’s precisely what you’ll be doing. No, because in that last statement I cleverly implied that this sequel would once again feature the exact same gameplay with a different graphical theme, and it’s not. Because they’ve added gravity. And it works!

‘Overhaul’ would be a generous word for what Rovio have done in Angry Birds Space, but of all the sequels so far, this is the one that feels farthest removed from the original, and certainly has the best graphics – the resolution’s been increased to better cater for tablets. The premise is the same: pigs have stolen your eggs and you have to get them back; the basic mechanics are the same – touch the screen and drag to set the angle and power, then release to launch your birds from a catapult into the hideouts to make them collapse and crush the pigs. Points are awarded depending on how many pigs and clocks have been destroyed.

Where it differs is that it’s no longer a simple case of throwing your birds in a parabolic arc. The low gravity and added inertia allow you to slingshot your birds around planetoids and knock blocks from one structure into another at high speed, and makes the game feel markedly different to its predecessors. The birds are similar to those in previous games, but now have futuristic space outfits. The blue bird splits into three smaller birds which can penetrate ice. The black bird explodes. The yellow bird has inexplicably become purple and now zooms at high speed although this time, rather than continuing its present trajectory, it flies towards the point you have tapped, like a homing missile. The latest addition is an ice cube bird which freezes any blocks it hits or lands near.

The game comes with an initial two worlds, each consisting of thirty stages, and a third which can be unlocked for the princely sum of one Earth dollar. On completion of a stage you’re awarded up to three stars, and therein lies the real challenge. You’ll breeze through the game quickly, but getting the full three stars invariably requires you to complete a stage using only one bird. If you’re a completionist you’ll want to do just that, and it’ll take quite some time and more than a bit of luck.

That’s where Angry Birds Space suffers the same problems as previous outings: luck plays too large a part in your progress. You can perform what feels like the same shot several times with varying results. Sometimes you’ll hit the TNT crate and send the entire structure toppling to the nearest space rock. Sometimes you’ll nudge it and those bloody pigs will grin at you as if you’re some kind of moron. Sometimes you’ll miss entirely and send your bird off into the vacuum of space.

  • Different enough to the original to feel fresh
  • It’s only 69p
  • Looks great (for a phone game)
  • Success is as much about luck as judgement
  • Feels repetitive if played for long periods

Considering the game’s flaws for too long feels somewhat pointless when you remember that it costs 69p in the App Store, and it is definitely worth that. It’s fun, polished and addictive; an example of casual gaming at its finest. You can pick it up when you have a spare couple of minutes and put it down again just as quickly. As Rovio add more levels in future updates, you’ll keep coming back. It’s not going to change how you approach gaming, and it’s not going to set the world alight, but for 69p, I wouldn’t really expect it to.

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  1. Edward Edward says:

    “Success is as much about luck as judgement”

    Pretty much all my feelings about Angry Birds in a single point, and it’s why I don’t get why the series is as successful as it is. Still, the opening was absolutely hilarious and top notch stuff :D Looking forward to seeing more stuff from you, Graham!

  2. Ian says:

    The ultimate problem is that it’s still Angry Fucking Birds.

    It’ll no doubt make Rovio millions anyway.

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    I had heard of the game of course – how could I not, with everyone seemingly obsessed by it – but I truly had no idea what it actually was. I’m not a mobile gamer, being from the old fart school of… pretty much everything, and think phones are only for shouting into :) Enjoyable review though… I expect this won’t be the end of AB, however. Next up, Angry Birds Ocean, Angry Birds Iraq, and Angry Birds Essex.

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