I used to have so much respect for the Angry Bird franchise. I really and truly did. I'm pretty sure I made that fairly clear in my official, unofficial week of Angry Birds that I did a couple of months ago. That franchise has offered so much to gamers over the years, and for a mere seven dollars, I was able to fulfill an entire week of games, and more importantly, got countless hours of time-wasting, mind-numbing game play out of that seven bucks since the very first Angry Birds game I downloaded.
I've been a pretty vocal supporter of them as well, recommending it to anyone who would listen at one point, touting all the free updates that included free levels upon free levels as proof that the dollar spent on each game was well worth it, and went far beyond the initial purchase price of the game.
Unfortunately, I think the Angry Birds franchise has finally jumped the shark, as it seems far more important to them to make money than to continue it's reputation of rewarding their fans and supporters with not just good games, but making them feel like their money was well spent. Maybe this transition for them happened a while ago and I was just too jaded or naive to notice, but thanks to the newly released Angry Birds Go! game, their current state of business is crystal clear.
A while ago I wrote about Plants vs. Zombies 2, and how PopCap did micro-transactions as well as could possibly be. They allowed you to play and complete the entire game for free, as all it took was some grinding and skill to acquire and unlock everything needed in the game to fully finish it. Of course, the option was always there to throw some real-life currency at the game to make it easier or shorter of a game if you so choose, but it was never forced. There was never a pay wall completely blocking your path, and there was never timed cool-down periods where you simply couldn't play without waiting a designated amount of time, unless you wanted to pay for your impatience. It was a totally free, 100% complete game, and I hoped at the time that all future big-name micro-transaction games would follow suit in how they did business.
Angry Birds Go! is a karting game set in the Angry Birds universe, featuring all your favorite characters from the series (both birds and pigs) as kart racers. There are a few different race modes, different tracks and customizable karts, which is all pretty much exactly what you want from a karting game. The controls are nice and tight, as you can choose between touch-based or tilt controls. For my iPad, tilt controls work great for me, which was surprising because of the usual lag tendencies with those controls. The game is great looking too, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has played any of the other Angry Birds games.
So why did I have a problem with, you ask? The micro-transactions, obviously.
The game starts out okay, but quickly starts hitting you with micro-transaction options. It stalls pretty quickly, as you have to decide whether or not to give the developers money just to shut them up and let you play the game. There is a cool-down period, where you literally cannot play without spending cash or hard-earned crystals you collected in the game, which if you go that route, means you are going to be replaying the same levels over and over again to grind for the crystals.
Simply put, the game is pretty much unplayable, enjoyable and frustrating if you don't spend money on it, in which case, you probably won't be feeling very good about the game anyway at that point. The thing is, the game does so many different things right as a karting game and an addition to the Angry Birds franchise, I would have gladly spent a dollar or two to straight up buy this game as a whole package and never have to even consider micro-transactions as part of the experience. But instead, they decided they could make a lot more money with this method and way of business, and that's disappointing.
I guess I expected more from them as a company. Or maybe I took for granted all they did for the years leading up to this game. Either way, I'm sad as an Angry Birds fan, but I'm also relieved that I don't have to waste much more time with their games.
When Angry Birds Star Wars came out, it was well received by all. It was a brilliant mash-up of the Angry Birds game we've all come to love and the timeless classic Star Wars series. In the game, they covered the full original trilogy of Star Wars, and it was done with love and respect for the cannon of Star Wars, for the most part. The thing is, there was a lot more Star Wars stories to tell, and that had to change.
Sure, they could have just added the prequel trilogy episodes to the game everyone already bought anyway, but instead, they created Angry Birds Star Wars 2, a brand new game that would cover Star Wars Episodes 1-3. Aside from the obvious business decision to create a new game and cash on in it, the developers actually had some new ideas to bring to the Angry Birds blueprint that they wanted to try out in this game.
I'm glad they did, too, because once again they were able to capitalize on the tried and true formula everyone is accustomed to and add some new elements to make the game feel fresh, feel new. They essentially said to themselves: "The first game was great, but we can make it a lot better with a few new additions, and really capture the essence of Star Wars."
For starters, they put two different games into one. You can play as the heroes, the good guys, the birds - just as you normally would - and advance through the levels just like before. Or you can choose the Pork Side, and play as a bad guys from the get-go and follow that path. Every time you start up the game, from the home screen, you can choose whichever side to play as, and can go back and forth, working on your progression through the games as you see fit. Brilliant.
Also, you have the ability to summon different characters throughout the game, all with slightly different abilities and physics, as the game boasts over 30 playable characters. For the first time ever in Angry Birds, you can essentially create your own line-up of characters for the levels, allowing you to pick the best characters to get the best scores. This element finally raised the skill level involved with being good at Angry Birds. Strategy is key in this game.
Overall, it is an awesome step up from the previous Angry Birds Star Wars game, and a fantastic addition to both the Angry Birds universe and the Star Wars franchise. On top of that, despite my reservations going into it, it's been an enjoyable full week of Angry Birds, and it only cost me a total of seven dollars, give or take a couple of pennies. Not bad for seven full games, right?
Although I think I should be the one to get paid for having to endure another experience with Jar-Jar Binks.
When this game was announced, the Internet just about lost its collective head. Okay, so it wasn't as big of a deal as when it was announced that Disney bought the Star Wars licence, but for those who cared about Angry Birds and even the Star Wars fans, it was still a big deal. I mean really, who in their wildest dreams ever imagined a cross-over mash-up of such epic proportions?
Yet it was all a reality. Angry Birds Star Wars was released, paying homage to the original Star Wars trilogy. All the beloved and well-known characters were represented as different kinds of birds, all with their own unique abilities, but not in the typical Angry Birds style, but rather abilities to fit the Star Wars universe, while still feeling Angry Birdsish. I'm talking about light sabers, guns and the force type of moves. You know, stuff you would actually see in a Star Wars movie, just being done by birds with full heads of hair being flung around.
The characters are fun, the cutscenes are actually enjoyable compared to most Angry Birds games, and there is a certain satisfaction felt by taking down the pigs, most likely due to Star Wars being the most traditional and perfect example of good versus evil. The levels themselves are also quite enjoyable, as you get to visit all the main locals of the movies, playing through the story as you already know it, just with the Angry Birds twist.
Overall, as weird and uncertain the notion was to combine Star Wars with Angry Birds, the mash-up was actually executed extremely well, enough to satisfy all Angry Birds fans, bring in new ones due to the Star Wars license, and also and probably most importantly, it managed to due the Star Wars trilogy properly, without upsetting the die-hard fans of the series who usually get pretty upset when their beloved universe is mistreated. Jar Jar Binks, I'm looking at you...
Sometimes I even surprise myself. Sounds a little egotistical, I know, but it's true. I do things or come up with ideas that shock me that I would even consider the notion of doing or planning whatever it is I drummed up in my noggin. This time, however, I can't take credit for coming up with the idea. I'm just surprised I actually took it seriously and decided to roll with it.
I honestly had no intention of playing any more Angry Birds games after my four day romp through the wilderness that yielded very little opportunities to play games, except for a whole lot of Angry Birds on my phone before I wore the battery down. After coming back into the grid and posting about my game playing of Angry Birds, my amigo Ben pointed out on Twitter that I should just do a whole week of Angry Birds, to fulfill my "Week Of..." series for the month of October. Whether or not he was actually serious when he suggested it, the idea grew legs on the social media site and a legit discussion came about of if I could do it, and more importantly, if I should do it.
Well, considering I had four games consecutively already done and out of the way, and because there just happens to be seven Angry Birds mobile games available right now to play, it was like the stars aligned and a sign from the heavens beckoned me to fulfill the semi-controversial Week Of Angry Birds to the end. Except, this isn't the actual "Week Of..." for October, this is merely the Official, Unofficial Week Of... Angry Birds.
Confused? Don't be. Just sit back, relax and read about some more Angry Birds. Or don't. You might as well, though, since you're already here, right?
First thing you probably noticed is that this isn't an actual Angry Birds game, per say. It's a spin-off game, actually, giving the villains of the Angry Birds franchise, the spotlight for a change. The pigs, also known as the Bad Piggies, finally got their own game, free of being beat up and bullied by the flock of birds constantly being flung at them via cartoonishly large slingshots. But this game isn't at all what you think it might be, if you're not already familiar with it.
Instead of trying to eliminate the threat, you are faced with the challenge of somehow getting the pigs from the start of the level to the end, hopefully accomplishing the mini-accomplishments along the way. Since they are pigs and not birds, they don't have the gift of flight, so they are reduced to using homemade contraptions that will propel them to their goal. And you, the player, has to build the vehicles.
Playing the game for the first time in a really long time, I instantly remembered why I gave up on in when I did. The game is ridiculously hard, especially if you're not in a puzzle solving type of mood. Sure, you struggle your way to the finish line on even the hardest of levels, but if you are a completionist, be prepared to put your thinking caps on. It's not based strictly on luck and skill shots, but actual in-game engineering along with a lot of trial and error needs to happens to perfect each level.
I love the challenge of the game, even if it's not a true Angry Birds game. But it was a nice break from the wash-rinse-repeat formula of the franchise, that's for sure.
At the point where Angry Birds Space came out, it was already highly regarded as one of the most popular, downloaded and played games on mobile devices. Everyone who had a phone or device that could play games on it had probably played one version of the Angry Birds games, whether it be one of the full games or the free versions of each. Apparently, they didn't think enough people knew about the franchise, however.
Or they just wanted to go over the top with marketing Angry Birds Space. Of all the crazy, kooky things they could have done, they decided to go big and make an impact, doing something that I didn't even know was possible. Somehow, with the gazillions of dollars they made over the years, they were able to make the Space Needle tower in Seattle into a marketing device, turning it into a slingshot as if it was to launch the iconic red bird into space.
Genius. Absolutely genius. Every news outlet picked up on the story, even if it was just for a small story, but they got the message across. Angry Birds is here to stay as part of the gaming universe forever, changing the notion of how successful mobile games can be.
Playing this game again today reminded me of all the cool new space physics were in this game, as every Angry Birds game before it couldn't prepare you for playing this game. All the game play mechanics you were familiar with beforehand get thrown out the window, except of course the launching of the birds. After that, once those little birds are flung into orbit, the game is like nothing you have played before. In fact, this remains as the only Angry Birds game that I never completely finished the initial levels of.
This game is awesome, and while it totally feels like an Angry Birds game, it feels like something completely different as well. Maybe one of these days I'll finish it, but not today. It was a long camping trip and I'm actually kind of sick of Angry Birds. It got me through the weekend though, and for that I'm thankful, but for now, I'm ready to get back into some real games.
Like I said, just when I thought Angry Birds couldn't reinvent themselves anymore than they already had, they went and decided to do a tie-in with an upcoming digitally animated blockbuster movie. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense, especially since Rio is all about colorful, quirky and kind of crazy birds, just like Angry Birds.
But honestly, at the time, it felt like the franchise was selling out, trying to earn a quick buck on the coattails of a movie and essentially trotting out the same game once again, just re-skinned to match the movie. Again, this is what I just assumed before jumped in to the game for the first time. Once again, as much as it is starting to sound like a broken record, the franchise surprised me again.
Angry Birds Rio completely melted together and combined the traditional Angry Birds game with the Rio movie, which honestly, I had little interest in even watching until I played this game. They recreated all the main areas of the movie within the game as levels, but that's not where they stopped. Instead of trying to kill pigs, you instead were trying to free captured birds from the poachers. In other levels, you were trying to defeat evil monkeys. And then Rio did the unthinkable.
They introduced boss battles. After all Angry Birds had done to this point, the traditional game mechanic of defeating bosses had been absent from their games, until Rio. And I had totally forgot that until I went back and played this game again. I forgot how fun it was to look for golden fruit, use birds I've seen in a movie and most importantly, defeating bosses.
Cash grab and easy money because of the movie tie-in? Yeah, maybe it was, but they also went above and beyond to make sure everyone who bought the game felt like they got a complete, new game, not just a re-skinned blueprint of the successful franchise.
When I first picked up Angry Birds Seasons, it was right after it was first released. I was already in love with the original game. I enjoyed that the developers kept pumping out new levels and stages for the original game for free, so I was a little perplexed why they would come out with a completely separate game just to add some Halloween-themed levels. But, after being so pleasantly surprised by Angry Birds once, I banked on them not pushing out something that would be just a money grab.
Well, I loved Seasons too. The Halloween theme was very cool, but the difficulty seemed to ramp up a lot more so than the original game, almost to the point where it felt like a completely new game. Which, I guess when you think about it, it was a brand new game. After the Halloween levels were complete, I wasn't sure what to expect after that, but once again, I was shocked.
The next set of levels were Christmas themed levels. They were all fantastic, with new physics based around snow, presents and other items. It was the same blueprint, sure, but again, it felt like a new game.
Since then, they have continued to push out holiday or season based levels, now into year three of the cycle. Each time they update it, it seems to be better than the last. They have used Seasons to introduce new types of items to smash, new birds, new physics and new ways to play Angry Birds, when it comes down to it.
I still love playing this game, just jumping around from season to season, holiday to holiday, year to year, trying to find all the improvements and upgrades they made. I still find the levels, especially when going for three stars, harder than the original game, but that's one of the most compelling aspects of the game.
But just when I thought the Angry Birds franchise knew all the ways to reinvent the wheel with Seasons, they changed up the game once again...
Okay, I don't wan to beat around the bush here. I took a vacation of sorts, I have a few days of blogs to write here. You see, this wasn't just any vacation, but rather a camping trip, up in a canyon, away from it all. And I mean that in every sense of the word. We were as removed from civilization as possible, as I didn't have any cell phone service about 15 minutes into the canyon. We camped about 45 minutes drive time from where we lost cell service, for reference.
The only cell service available would have meant to climb to the top of the canyon hilltop, about 600 yards almost straight up from where we were camping. Sure, it would have been possible, but without a really, really good reason to hike up there, I wasn't going to risk broken ankles, oxygen deprivation and rattlesnake battles just to try and post a blog. Plus, even if I did it once for one day of the blog, I surely wasn't going to be doing it everyday. So alas, I'm making up for it now.
Just because I was out of touch with civilization completely didn't mean I didn't play games. I did, after all, have nothing but time on my hands to do something. While Pokémon got a lot of play time (until the battery ran out), I also had my phone to game on, which if you have it in airplane mode since there is zero cell service to constantly search for, the battery lasts a lot longer than you would imagine.
Even if you are playing a bunch of Angry Birds on it.
I figured since I was becoming one with Mother Nature, I might as relate my blogs someone to my wilderness excursion, right? Well, the best I could do (or wanted to do, for that matter), was an Angry Birds marathon, starting with the game that started it all. When I first downloaded this game waaaaaay back in the day, I had heard about it from somewhere, it being the next big thing. Well, I was skeptical at the time, as I had only had my iPhone for a short while and was very weary about spending money on the app store. But with the kind of praise it was getting, I figured a dollar was worth it.
Well, I have never gotten addicted to a game so quickly, so unexpectedly as I did with Angry Birds. I fell head over heals for this game, instantly. I don't know if it was the quirky charm, the competitiveness of trying to get three stars, or just the mind-numbing fun, but whatever it was, it was fantastic. And even going back and playing it again, even the very first levels, gave me that same smile, frustration and push to get a better score than the last.
And just think: at the time this game was at the top of the mountain, who knew there would be more? A lot, lot more to come.
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Games played for project : 365