Posts Tagged ‘Angry Birds

24
Sep
12

Impressions: Angry Birds Space

Roughly a year ago, I wrote about taking the fun out of games by trying to break them down into three pieces: verbs, spaces, and impressions.  What I’d hope to do is be able to look at a game and judge its merits based on it’s composition rather than the experience it provided to me.  The experience is important, but I’m providing half of the formula to produce that experience.  So who’s to say where the game begins and my experience ends?  We can extract pieces of games from different genres, and compare them to one another.  But without being able to ensure that these pieces are being compared consistently there’s no way to tell when you are comparing apples to apples, apples to oranges, or oranges to God Hand.  So after a year of sitting on this idea of games as verbs, spaces, and impressions, I will try to apply the concept to more of the games I’m playing.  And to kick it off, we’ve got Angry Birds Space.

This is the first proper Angry Birds game that I’ve played on a touch device (and in another few years I might even own a smart phone) and so I was looking forward to using controls that didn’t involve the PSP’s analog “nub.”  I had played the HTML5 edition which allows for use of a mouse to aim, but sitting down at a desktop to play Angry Birds never felt right.  These games have always felt like something of a guilty pleasure, by which I mean even though it’s probably easier to play the game with a mouse, I’d rather hide and play it on an iPod touch so no one knows I’m playing it (please don’t tell anyone.)  Anyway, so how does it stack up?

Verbs
It doesn’t get much more straight forward than this.  Slingshot birds into the inky depths of space and knock stuff over.  It’s simple enough for a pre-schooler to grasp, but ABS introduces a layer of depth with the different types of birds that you can sacrifice to oblivion.  Your simple verbs become, knock stuff over, knock stuff over really hard, knock stuff over in straight lines, knock stuff over and then blow it up, so on, and so forth.  It’s as satisfying as in previous titles, but it shines when combined with the game’s…

Spaces
In space, no one can hear your bird scream, as it flies past the planet you tried to aim at and faces an eternal journey through the abyss.  The player must anticipate how different gravitational fields will direct your projectiles, and there’s enough complexity here to create some unexpected results or creative solutions that are quite rewarding.  These spaces add an additional layer of complexity to the game’s verb set, and levels are set up well to exploit this.  For instance, some levels present situations where it is nearly impossible to destroy every pig on the scream with the allotted birds.  But by using explosives scattered through a level, additional asteroids and obstacles can be made into additional projectiles which can be directed into other gravity fields and destroying supporting structures.  These aren’t entirely new mechanics in the series, but levels are dynamic enough to offer a great deal of novelty.

Impressions
What will keep you engaged beyond the novelty of the game however is the challenge to constantly improve your score.  This can be accomplished by attempting to clear the level using as few birds as possible (each remaining bird translates to a 10,000 point bonus) or by finding creative ways to destroy more of the level itself.  There are many objects that can be destroyed for large amounts of bonus points, but are placed in out of the way areas of the level.  It’s up to the player to decide what appropriate balance is.  Each level offers the opportunity to win up to three stars based on your score, and the penalty for starting is so low that repeated attempts (even on the first shot) are inconsequential.

The Angry Birds series is never one to light a fire among gamers, and it’s always a little disheartening to see games that are this “simplistic” find such popularity with general audiences when other games are trying to exhibit the unique strengths of the medium.  But a good game is a good game and it’s hard to go wrong with Angry Birds Space.

Advertisements
11
Sep
11

Weekly Links for September 11th

The Adventure Update, now with more creeping.

Links

What I’ve Been Playing

Bonus Video

14
May
11

Weekly Links for May 14th

Links

What I’ve Been Playing

  • Portal 2
    Co-op is finished, but I’m still plugging away at the single-player campaign.
  • Angry Birds
    It’s not perfect, but it strikes a balance that minimizes its flaws.

Bonus Video

24
Jan
11

Impressions: Angry Birds

Seeing that I don’t have an iPhone, or iPod, iWhatever, or an Android phone, I was only recently able to try out Angry Birds when it was released on the PSP.  I can’t say that it met my expectations after all the hype I’ve read over the last year, but at the same time I find it hard to put down after I’ve gotten started with it.  It’s got a strong foundation to build on.  The game play mechanics are solid in concept: solve puzzles that require you to use a defined set of birds to fling at a protective structure and clobber the inhabiting pigs. I became frustrated pretty quickly with the execution of the game though (or at least the PSP implementation of it.)  The stickiest aspect of the experience is trying to A) figure out where to place your shots and B) figure out how to accurately make that shot.  This was probably more difficult when using the PSP analog nub, which doesn’t lend itself well to placing shots using intermediate power.  It’s generally all or nothing.  It’s really a pain to play consistently, even if you know exactly what to do.

The physics engine (which lags considerably in this version of the game) was also cause for frustration as minor differences in angle can completely change how objects tend to fall.  Since the analog nub is almost useless for aiming accurately, it can take a small miracle for you to place all the shots on target, in order.  And many times, when I completed a level, it almost felt like it was on accident.  Player skill doesn’t make a difference beyond your ability to hypothetically tell where you need to place shots to beat the level.  These issues may be limited to the PSP edition of the game, but I can imagine some of them carrying over to their iOS and Android counter-parts.  In spite of all this, I have a hard time putting it down.  I’m not necessarily having fun, but I can always envision how to beat levels and that I should be able to if I’m patient enough.  The penalties for losing are frustrating, but it’s so easy to just try it over again.  It always feels like it’s just a matter of time before the magic moment where everything falls out of place and everything comes crashing down.  It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I can see how it’s become as popular as it is.




Posts filed under…

Archives

My Twitter

  • Hi. This is Peter. Please leave your name and number after the tone. 1 year ago
Advertisements