The sheer success of the Angry Birds franchise rivals that of any video game past. It’s wide appeal to both serious gamers and those looking for a quick time waster rivals that of any other video game to date, including Pac-Man.
Okay, let’s clarify that last statement. Rovio has not reinvented the wheel, but Angry Birds Space accomplishes something that few mobile game developers ever succeed at: delivering a totally reinvented and vastly improved version of the original product that took the world by storm.
How they did it is even more impressive – by involving NASA. Littered throughout the game are external links to NASA educational content, and It seems the NASA scientists advised the good folks at Rovio on gravitational physics and other space matters.
You’ve got to admit that the involvement of the organization that put a couple of guys named Neal and Buzz on the moon is a pretty big coup. Of course, it does make you wonder why NASA doesn’t have more important things to do, but that aside, it’s still in the realm of awesome.
As if you needed a backstory to mentally prepare you for the inevitable carnage that ensues when a slew of angry birds declare war on a bunch of slovenly space pigs. But for those in need of a narrative: one bright day in the middle of a peaceful avian existence, a giant mechanical arm reaches through a wormhole in the sky and snatches up a golden egg that belongs to our titular birds. Said birds, now angry (again), go in hot pursuit of the egg and all hell breaks loose. Or something like that.
Actually, the Angry Birds Space backstory is pretty ambiguous and wholly unnecessary. After all, who really cares about motive when it comes to time killing video games? Just give us a good time and some creatively named game levels like Pig Bang and Cold Cuts, and we’re golden.
If you’re already used to playing Angry Birds (or Angry Birds Rio or Angry Birds Seasons, for that matter) then you’ll have an inherent understanding of how the gameplay in Angry Birds Space works. Some of the same original birds are still present in this re-imagining, but most are wearing feathers of different colors and have slightly tweaked tricks up their sleeves. For example, the original ineffective red bird is the same, but the yellow “mach” bird is now donning purple feathers and in order to accurately control him, you’ve got to tap your screen precisely where you want him to land. There are also some new birds, like the square-edged ice bird that freezes whatever it comes into contact with and makes it easier for subsequent birds to lay utter waste.
The scenarios all take place in outer space or in immediate orbit of small, unnamed planets and moons. Gameplay stakes are ramped up, requiring you to adjust the trajectory of your shot to account for varying gravitational pulls. Once you get the hang of it, you can begin to use the gravitational pull to your advantage by slingshotting around planets, getting the general hang of life outside the atmosphere, and cutting a sizable swath of destruction in the process. Learning to master the game won’t exactly qualify you to pilot any spacecraft, but it will give you an appreciation for the science that went into the game’s development. Probably. It’s also pretty cool to watch the space pigs freeze instantly anytime you rupture their climate controlled bubbles and expose them to the vacuum of space.
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