Mobile Game of the Week: Angry Birds Space (Android/iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Angry Birds Space (Android/iOS)

Angry Birds Space

Platform: Android, iOS
Developer: Rovio
Release Date: 03/22/2012
Price: $.99 (Android/iPhone); $2.99 (iPad)

I hate you, Angry Birds. I hate you because I love you. You are as capricious and unpredictable as a child, a random whirlwind of destruction that upends all plans. I know where you will land, but I have no idea how much damage you will do to those smirking pigs and their makeshift defenses. There’s entirely too much chance involved in Angry Birds, undermining the game’s puzzling potential but paradoxically increasing its addictive quality. I don’t know what to expect, but I can’t wait to see it happen, no matter how frustrating it might be.

Angry Birds Space transports all that unpredictability, frustration and addiction to outer space. It takes the basic foundations of the original and supplements them with various gravity effects. It’s not too dissimilar to Super Mario Galaxy in that way – the basics of an old favorite reinterpreted with new physical twists.

angry birds space screen.png

You’ll catapult your birds towards planets and moons with their own gravitational fields, the birds’ arcs bending and dwindling as gravity pulls them towards the surface. Sometimes the fields of two bodies will overlap, your birds tracing double parabolas as they soar from one orbit into another. Sometimes you’ll have to ram into small asteroids in zero gravity space and hope inertia will guide it towards your enemies. Gravity (or the lack thereof) is a major constant that must be considered on every level, making Angry Birds Space a largely new experience and not just another holiday or movie-themed rebrand of the original.

There are other differences, too, particularly in the skill set of some of the birds. The red birds still fly straight, the blue ones still split into three, and the black ones still blow up with a touch of the screen. The yellow birds no longer fly in a relatively straight line when you trigger their rush attack, though; they now shoot off in the same direction as where your finger touches the screen. It takes a long time to remember to aim the yellow birds after hours of killing time with the original game. There are also new ice-coated birds that turn wooden or steel impediments into easily shattered ice.

Angry Birds Space tweaks the formula enough to justify its existence and to send even the most reformed Birds fanatic into a time-devouring relapse. That annoying imprecision is still present, though. You know what to expect from your birds’ trajectories, but it’s impossible to guess what effect their actual impact will have upon the pigs’ fortifications. As always the physics are inconsistent and unknowable. In Space nobody can hear you scream about how unfair this game can be. That still won’t keep you from playing it endlessly.