Since becoming the world’s most downloaded videogame, countless companies and developers have tried to reverse-engineer the success of Angry Birds. What makes it so popular? Is it the freewheeling, let ‘er rip destructive physics? The effortless user interface? The colorful cartoon mascots? Or the thoughtful and varied level design? In Angry Birds Space, like with the rest of the series, it’s all of the above.
Angry Birds redefined the physics puzzler genre by giving you dozens of playgrounds– houses built of glass, wood, and metal, like a modern-day Three Little Pigs story. You could just pull back on the slingshot (an intuitive design choice, far more tactile than the timing-based Crush The Castle mechanics) and let those birdies fly. On the first few playthroughs, your goal was simply to kill all the smug green pigs, but later, you could retry for a challenging three-star score.
You won’t be grinning long, piggy.
Angry Birds Space changes the physics dramatically by setting the game in outer space, where not every bird falls with the same gravitational pull. Depending on where you aim, your birds might orbit a small celestial body, float unimpeded through space, or slingshot around a planet. This allows for all sorts of brilliant gameplay twists, like knocking asteroids out of space, or untethering a piggy’s zero-gravity life-support system.
The pigs and obstacles respond satisfyingly to these new rules as well. Pigs in self-contained bubbles will freeze to death in space if you pop their protective seal, or plummet if you knock them into a nearby gravitational field. Explosive crates will send debris on a starward trajectory, or get pulled back planetside to cause more destruction.
You’ll have some new birds to launch, too. An ice cube bird will turn metal obstacles into brittle ice, and the yellow triangle bird now comes with NASA-approved homing technology. Fan favorites, like the spread shot and explosive birds, make a welcome return.
Prepare for impact.
Angry Birds’ intergalactic conquest doesn’t stop with the 60 included levels. You can unlock a bonus pack of 30 hard levels for another dollar, and more levels are promised to arrive soon (Rovio has been stellar about adding more content and value as their games become more popular). There are also five bonus levels, which you can unlock by finding and hitting warp fields scattered throughout the game. These levels include grin-inducing homages to Super Mario Bros, Breakout, and Space Invaders.
Plus, you can unleash a limited number of Mighty Eagle tins to clear out a tricky level and score a special achievement for each level. However, Mighty Eagle tins are rare– you only get nine by playing through the game– and the rest must be unlocked with in-app purchases. This is a challenge for hardcore Angry Birds completionists only, and it will probably end up costing you far more than the initial download of the app.
If you don’t attempt these extra goals, Angry Birds Space is still a delightful collection of challenging physics puzzles. 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. Even if you thought your interest in Angry Birds had peaked, Angry Birds Space adds enough new gameplay incentives to make it a Must Have app.