Who hasn’t heard of Angry Birds? One of iOS’s truly breakout hits, Angry Birds has become a cultural phenomenon, with a full range of licensed lunchboxes, snacks, clothing, toys, and more available for purchase. There’s even a movie in the works, due out in 2016. We’ve been following this physics puzzler series since day one, so read on to see how Angry Birds has grown and changed over the years.
The game that started it all, the original Angry Birds (released in late 2009) held the promise of easy, accessible gameplay with colorful, chirpy characters. The slingshot mechanic that everyone now recognizes had been used before in games like Crush the Castle, but Angry Birds was easier to pick up and play. It also offered the immediate satisfaction of destroying a piggy’s secure compound, complete with grunts and squeals. We responded well to the very first version of Angry Birds, but said that it needed more levels and online high scores. Once Rovio updated the game with those new features, we declared it to be a Must Have, and clearly the rest of the world agreed– the Angry Birds series has been downloaded over 1.7 billion times!
Key Quote: “So much about this game, from the ‘weapons’ to the physics and level variety, is really quite excellent. If you’ve got even one destructive bone in your body, we think this military-farm-complex will be fun for you.”
Angry Birds Seasons
The first Angry Birds spin-off was designed to take advantage of the turning of the seasons– it started as a Halloween version with pumpkins and spooky backgrounds, but eventually added Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day levels as well. Despite the festive graphics, there weren’t any new gameplay mechanics in Angry Birds Seasons, but the original gameplay hadn’t worn out its welcome, and the levels were designed to be extra-challenging.
Key Quote: “If you’ve played any iteration of Angry Birds before, then you know what to expect from the new levels. We can’t exactly fault Rovio for not updating the gameplay. The world has spoken, and Angry Birds is a winner.”
Angry Birds Rio
The first big marketing tie-in for Angry Birds was for the 2011 Dreamworks film Rio, an animated story about tropical birds on the run in Brazil. In the iOS game, you had to launch your birds at other birds, in order to free them from their cages. Angry Birds Rio also introduced monkey enemies, with a great boss battle at the very end. The amount of content you’d receive for a $.99 purchase still impressed us, making Angry Birds Rio the third Must Have game in the series.
Key Quote: “This movie tie-in offers the same bird-flinging destruction we’ve come to expect (and love), with just a few new elements added in for good measure. But don’t let that dampen your day, because Angry Birds Rio is as fun as ever.”
Angry Birds Space
By 2012, Angry Birds had grown too large for the confines of the Earth’s atmosphere, so it took to space with a little help from NASA. Angry Bird Space finally introduced significant new gameplay elements, like gravity wells that would pull your projectiles, and giant expanses of space where objects would hang suspended and drift slowly when pushed. Whirling around planetoids added a new dimension to the gameplay, but little did we know that it was all in preparation for their biggest tie-in yet, Angry Birds Star Wars.
Key Quote: “It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into these levels, and the overall graphical design feels clean and simple, just like a mobile game should.”
Angry Birds Star Wars
With the space mechanics honed to perfection in Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Star Wars adopted Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, and the rest of Lucasfilm’s famous characters. ABSW features bird versions of the film characters, licensed music and sound effects, and brilliant new gameplay mechanics like laser blasts and Force powers. It’s been the pinnacle of both physics-based games and marketing brilliance. If you have even a passing interest in Star Wars or Angry Birds, you owe it to yourself to try out this amazing game. With quality like this, it’s no wonder Angry Birds have taken over the world.
Key Quote: “Just as we expected, Angry Birds Star Wars is a delight. It takes lots of inspiration from the Star Wars universe and integrates it seamlessly into the Angry Birds template.”
Angry Birds Friends
Earlier this year, Rovio experimented with a free, Facebook-connected version of Angry Birds that let you share your high scores with your friends. Also, you could purchase power-ups that would give you a slight competitive edge. Although the gameplay was the same as before, Angry Birds Friends was not as much fun as other editions of the game. Still, it’s interesting to think about what Angry Birds Friends might tell us about the future of this incredibly successful series.
Key Quote: “This is the Angry Birds game you want to play if you’ve beaten all the rest and want to prove your skills as the best to all your friends. If that doesn’t interest you, then there is probably little else here that will.”
Tomorrow, our collection of the 50 Best Game Series continues with the free-wheeling criminal pursuit, Grand Theft Auto.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.