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Game Reviews

MPAA Rating
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Genre
Puzzle, Arcade/Platform
PLATFORM
Smartphone, Tablet
PUBLISHER
Rovio Mobile
RELEASED
March 22, 2012
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Angry Birds Space

Angry Birds Space

After Rovio sent Angry Birds winging its way to great success—with well over half-a-billion smartphone and tablet downloads—the gamemakers were left with quite a feathery quandary. Sure, they could experiment with special editions of the game that took the pig-bashing, screen-tapping fun into various holiday settings. They could even tie the action into a new kids' movie release. And let's not forget the moneymaking potential of plush toys, board games and slippers. But that's only going to satisfy fans for so long. Then what?

How do you inject new zip into a simple game about hurling birds at chortling pigs? How can you possibly reinvent an über-popular physics-based puzzle game? And then the answer came. Silly pig, you simply change the physics and take it all into outer space.

That ingenious little twist gives Angry Birds Space a whole new pig in a poke to poke. Taking cues from other space-going kids fare such as Mario Galaxy, this Angry Birds twist plays fast and loose with gravity, planetoids and a nest full of furious fowl. So now it's not just a matter of shooting a birdie up and waiting to see where it might come crashing down. Now you have to aim things just right so you can pick off an oinking baddie on the far side of the moon.

Squealing Stealers From Space
The storyline—what there ever was of it—has stayed pretty consistent: Pigs steal eggs and birds get ticked. This game's variation comes in the form of a piggy mechanical claw that reaches down to Earth through a space portal of sorts and scoops up the birds' eggy treasures. And when the feathery heroes decide to retaliate, zipping through the portal from the opposite direction, they take on new outfits and a few new abilities.

The red bird sports a cool Wolverine-like mask that helps him scope out his trajectory. Then there are the Flash-suited blue birds that take off out of the slingshot as one bird and split into three speedsters with a mid-flight tap on the touchscreen. When the bomb bird gets a tap he explodes, taking out everything near him. The original game's yellow bird is now dressed up in a snazzy purple outfit and can be tapped to zip laser-like in any direction. The hulking green Terrence bird is the crews' crushing heavyweight. And the cube-like Ice bird freezes objects on contact, making them easier to crumble and break.

Like the original, the piggy foes are happily grunting and gobbling away—this time on asteroids, wrapped in oxygen-filled bubbles and hidden behind wood, ice and stone structures. So the birds must be launched in the right direction to break through and bonk them … and this is where the new physics make all the old fun seem brand new. With various gravitational fields in play, for instance, a zooming bird can circle around a planet several times before finally striking home on a pig's hideout.

Eggs With a New Scramble
The $2.99 Angry Birds Space game I downloaded for the iPad starts out with three chapters of 30 levels each. There are also some little hidden "eggsteroids" that can offer up special bonus levels and mimic other fun classic faves like Asteroids and Super Mario. Those eggs can deliver special pig boss challenges too, such as an oinker daring you to take him out while he's motoring around in his moon buggy.

Wondering about any negatives? Well, I guess I could squawk about how inhumane it is to load digital birds into slingshots, or about those unfairly maligned porcine reputations. But then I'd have to also tell the tale of countless metal ducks that've been shot with air rifles at circuses and fairs for about as long as anyone can remember. These madder'n hornets fowl don't ever really die, either, always showing up again in your slingshot after either disappearing into deep space or losing a few feathers in the fray. The pigs roll off the screen and go "poof," but they too show up again in the next round, safe and sound. OK, not really safe, but certainly they make lots of piggy sounds.

So what we've got here are wordlessly comical puzzles and take-aim targets just begging you to give 'em a star-hopping, chick-flinging try. Maybe just don't try while your preacher's in the middle of his sermon or your teacher's trying to make a dent with her algebra lecture!

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