Thursday, August 20, 2015

Angry Birds 2: Even Angrier Birds?

I probably saw the original Angry Birds on the iTunes App Store first, but I didn't think it would be something I would like. Then a friend of mine mentioned over cards that his daughters had gotten him completely hooked on this stupid cartoon catapult game. It was cheap, so I tried it, and I was disgustingly hooked. Got hooked on the Seasons game, too. And the first Rio game.

If you've been offline except for this blog and your flip phone, here's the description: a bunch of green pigs have stolen eggs, and the birds are mad. They pursue the pigs to kill them and reclaim their eggs. Each different bird has a different ability (speed burst, explosive egg drop, splitting into three, etc.), but they all have to be launched from a slingshot. You kill pigs, you move on to the next board. It never ends.

When I changed phones and lost all my progress, I lost the will to live. No, kidding! I lost the will to start the games again and go through all the frustrating levels of the past. I never much enjoyed the Space or Star Wars versions; I thought the Epic game was little fun, and the racing game (Angry Birds Go!) was pretty much the same thing over and over: Here's a race! It's over! Buy upgrades with actual money! It looked like that would be it for me and the Birds of Anger.

Now there's Angry Birds 2.



First off, I really dislike in-game purchases, but that's the way of the game world now. You get a free game and you progress either through skill and patience or through buying access. Kind of the way of the actual world, I guess, so maybe there's a lesson there. They also use advertising inside the game, which you can use to your advantage---watch an ad and get an extra bird, for example. Which is worth the thirty seconds of your life when you're thiiiiiiiiiiis close to getting through a board. It also has the lives system that Candy Crush made so popular: When you're all out of  birds, you will have to wait half an hour to get them back. You may get the ad-watching option. Or you could buy some more lives, if you're impatient and want to pee away money.

I'm sad that three excellent birds, Stella, Bubbles, and Hal, are not in this game. Bubbles especially is awesome. Hal, the boomerang toucan, would have had limited advantage; this game uses spitting flowers (they spit back whatever falls into them) and teleportation portals (the pigs can't build a decent house but there's teleportation?), so around-the-back shots are not as crucial. In the original game, you were given your birds in the order in which you had to use them; here you're given random birds and you can choose among three for any given shot, unless you have fewer than three birds left. Repeating a board does not mean it will be identical; in keeping with the "under construction" theme of the game, there are possible differences each time. There are also magic spells you can use... unless you run out or (doy!) want to buy some more. The advertising can help you in another way: You may have to watch an ad for Honey-Nut Cheerios, but the game may also randomly give you a Honey-Nut Cheerio spell to attack pigs with for a round.

Whereas the original game was a puzzle that required skill, the new game is more skill and luck based. Boards less often have a particular means of completion. In fact, the setup is very different in that, rather than having a level made up of a number of boards, as in the original game or Candy Crush, you have levels made of boards that are themselves made up of a series of three or more boards; you have to budget your birds to get through the series. You can earn extra birds in the series by scoring lots of points, or you can... dare I say it?... buy more.

Do I like the game? Sure; it's always fun to destroy things in the name of justice. And there is some relief in retrying a board and finding it set up easier on the second go-round.

Am I disgustingly hooked? Not really. The original game was so challenging I would have to resort occasionally to instructional videos on YouTube; can't see me doing that here. A game ought to not be impossible, but should occasionally make you nuts. It isn't love if it can't make you crazy.

On another note, I hear that there is an Angry Birds movie coming out next May. It could be fun... but I liked the grittier live-action version that came out a couple of years ago.


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