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Angry Birds (video game)

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Angry Birds
File:Angry Birds promo cover.png
Promotional artwork for Angry Birds
Developer(s) Rovio Mobile
Publisher(s) Clickgamer Media
Chillingo
Composer(s) Ari Pulkkinen Edit this on Wikidata
Series Angry Birds Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s) iOS, Maemo (Nokia N900), Palm webOS, Android, Symbian^3, PSP/PlayStation 3, Windows (XP and 7), Mac OS X
Release December 10, 2009[1]
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Single player

Angry Birds is a puzzle video game developed by Finland-based Rovio Mobile. Inspired primarily by a sketch of stylized wingless birds, the game was first released for Apple's iOS in December 2009.[1] Since that time, over 12 million copies of the game have been purchased from Apple's App Store,[2] which has prompted the company to design versions for other touchscreen-based smartphones, such as those using the Android operating system, among others.

In the game, players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures, with the intent of destroying all the pigs on the playfield. As players advance through the game, new birds appear, some with special abilities that can be activated by the player. Rovio Mobile has supported Angry Birds with numerous free updates that add additional game content, and the company has even released stand-alone holiday and promotional versions of the game.

Angry Birds has been praised for its successful combination of addictive gameplay, comical style, and low price. Its popularity led to versions of Angry Birds being created for personal computers and gaming consoles, a market for merchandise featuring its characters and even long-term plans for a feature film or television series. With 100 million downloads across all platforms,[3] the game has been called "one of the most mainstream games out right now",[4] "one of the great runaway hits of 2010",[5] and "the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far."[6]

Gameplay

A yellow bird collapses a structure onto several pigs.

In Angry Birds, players take control of a flock of multi-colored birds that are attempting to retrieve eggs that have been stolen by a group of evil green pigs.[7] On each level, the pigs are sheltered by structures made of various materials such as wood, ice[8] and stone, and the object of the game is to eliminate all the pigs in the level. Using a slingshot, players launch the birds with the intent of either hitting the pigs directly or damaging the structures, which would cause them to collapse and kill the pigs.[9] In various stages of the game, additional objects such as explosive crates and rocks are found in the levels, and may be used in conjunction with the birds to destroy hard-to-reach pigs.

There are several different types of birds used in the game. In the earliest levels, the basic red bird is the only one available.[7] As the player advances through the game, additional types of birds become available; some of these birds are more effective against particular materials or they have special abilities that are activated by tapping the touchscreen (mouse click on the PC) after the bird has been launched.[9] For example, a blue bird can separate into three smaller birds,[7] a black bird explodes[9] and a white bird can drop explosive eggs.[7] The pigs themselves also appear in different sizes. While small pigs are relatively weak and are easily destroyed either by direct hits or by debris from the damaged structures, larger pigs are able to sustain more damage. Also, some pigs wear helmets as armor, making them more resistant to damage, while pigs with crowns can take the most damage.

Each level starts with the number, types, and order of birds pre-determined.[7][9] If all of the pigs are defeated by the time the last bird is used, the level is completed and the next level is unlocked.[7] Points are scored for each pig defeated as well as for damage to, or destruction of, structures, and bonus points are awarded for any unused birds. Upon completing each level, players receive one, two, or three stars, depending on the score received. Players may re-attempt unlocked levels as many times as they wish in order to successfully complete them or to earn additional points and/or stars.

Development

Prior to this meeting we had set up strict criteria to determine which game we would go with, but we threw that out for the angry bird character.

–Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Mobile[10]

In early 2009, Rovio staff began reviewing proposals for potential games. One such proposal came from senior game designer Jaakko Iisalo[11] in the form of a simulated screenshot featuring some angry-looking birds with no visible legs or wings.[12] While the picture gave no clue as to what type of game was being played, the staff liked the characters,[12] and the team elected to design a game around them.[10] As the concept of Angry Birds was developed, the staff realized the birds needed an enemy.[11] At the time, the "swine flu" epidemic was in the news, so the staff made the birds' enemies pigs.[11] The game's mechanics were inspired by other petrary physics games that have been released over the years, including another 2009 release, Crush the Castle.[13][14] The initial cost to develop Angry Birds was estimated to exceed 100,000, not including money spent on the subsequent updates.[12]

When Rovio began writing new versions of the game for other devices, new issues came to light. As the team began working on a version for Android systems, they observed the large number of configurations of device types and versions of the Android software.[11] The number of combinations of software version, processor speed and even user interfaces was significantly larger than that for the earlier Apple iOS version.[15] Ultimately, the team settled on a minimum set of requirements,[11] although that left nearly 30 types of Android phones unable to run the game, including some newly released phones like the Motorola Backflip.[15] One month after the initial release on Android, Rovio Mobile began designing a simpler version of the game for these other devices.[15]

In early 2010, Rovio began developing a variant of Angry Birds for Facebook.[16] The project became one of the company's largest, with development taking over a year.[16] The company understood the challenges of transplanting a game concept between social platforms and mobile/gaming systems. In a March 2011 interview, Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka said, "you can’t take an experience that works in one environment and one ecosystem and force-feed it onto another. It's like Zynga. They can’t just take FarmVille and throw it on mobile and see what sticks. The titles that have been successful for them on mobile are the ones they’ve built from the ground up for the platform.”[16] The Facebook version is expected to incorporate social-gaming concepts and in-game purchases and is scheduled to enter beta-testing in April 2011.[16]

Release

The initial iOS version of the game included a single episode entitled "Poached Eggs," which contained three themed chapters, each with 21 levels. From time to time, Rovio has released free upgrades that include additional content, such as new levels, new in-game objects and even new birds. As updates have been released, they have been incorporated into the game's full version offered for download from each platform's application store.[17]

The first update, released in February 2010, added a new episode called "Mighty Hoax", containing two new chapters with 21 levels each. Updates released in April 2010 added the "Golden Eggs" feature, which placed hidden golden eggs throughout the game that would unlock bonus content when found, and a new episode called "Danger Above", which initially contained a single chapter of 15 levels. Two later updates added two more chapters to "Danger Above", each with 15 levels. "The Big Setup" episode, released in June 2010, added a new chapter with 15 levels and additional Golden Egg levels.[18] "The Big Setup" was later given two more chapters of 15 levels each.

A fifth episode, called "Ham 'Em High," launched in December 2010, in celebration of the game's first year in the iOS App Store.[17][19] "Ham 'Em High" contained 15 levels in a single chapter,[20] with updates in February 2011 and March 2011 each adding one new 15-level chapter.[21][22] "Ham 'Em High" also introduced the Mighty Eagle, a new bird that may be used once per hour to clear any uncompleted levels.[20] The Mighty Eagle can also be used in previously completed levels, without the once-per-hour limit, to play a mini-game called "Total Destruction" in which the player attempts to destroy as much of the scenery as possible, both with the standard birds and the Mighty Eagle; achieving 100% destruction earns the player a Mighty Eagle feather for the level.[20]

The Mighty Eagle is offered as a one-time, in-game purchase,[17] and is currently available only for iOS, as its App Store customers have iTunes accounts with pre-linked credit cards.[23] Rovio has begun testing an Android update called the "Bad Piggy Bank" with the Elisa wireless service in Finland, which allows users to charge in-app purchases, such as the Mighty Eagle, to their mobile phone bills; the service is expected to become available to other Android users in the second quarter of 2011.[23]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticiOS: 80% (based on 13 reviews)[24]
PSP: 77% (based on 13 reviews)[25]
Review scores
PublicationScore
GameZoneiOS: 8.0/10[26]
IGNiOS: 8.0/10[1]
PSP: 7.5/10[27]
Android: 8.0/10[28]
OPM (UK)PSP: 90/100[25][29]
MacWorldiOS: 3.5/5 stars[7]
Pocket GameriOS: 8.0/10[9]

Reviews of Angry Birds have been quite positive. Chris Holt of Macworld called the game "an addictive, clever, and challenging puzzler",[7] and Pocket Gamer's Keith Andrew said Angry Birds is "a nugget of puzzling purity dished out with relish aplenty."[9] Jonathan Liu of Wired News wrote that "going for the maximum number of stars certainly adds a lot of replay value to a fairly extensive game."[30] In February 2010, the game was a nominee for the "Best Casual Game" award at the 6th annual International Mobile Gaming Awards in Barcelona, Spain.[31] In September 2010, IGN named Angry Birds as the fourth best iPhone game of all time.[32]

Reviews for the first versions of the game to not use a touch interface, the PlayStation 3/PSP version and the Windows version, have also been positive, but with some disagreement over the different interfaces. Will Greenwald of PC Magazine, in his review of the PlayStation Network version, said that the control scheme on these platforms is good, "but they're not nearly as satisfying as the touch-screen controls found on smartphone versions," and that the PlayStation 3 version appeared "blocky and unpleasant, like a smartphone screen blown up to HDTV size."[33] Conversely, Greg Miller of IGN preferred the analog control setup of the PSP version, saying it "offered me tiny variances in control that I don't feel like I get with my fat finger on a screen".[27] While giving the game a positive review, Miller concluded, "There's no denying that Angry Birds is fun, but it could use polish—such as sharper visuals, a better price and smoother action."[27] Damien McFerrin of British website Electric Pig reviewed the PC version, saying "the mouse-driven control method showcases many distinct advantages over its finger-focused counterpart."[34]

Angry Birds became the top-selling paid application on Apple's UK App Store in February 2010, and reached the top spot on the US App Store a few weeks later,[35] where it remained until October 2010.[36] Since release, the free, limited version of Angry Birds has been downloaded over 11 million times for Apple's iOS, and the full-featured paid version has been downloaded nearly 7 million times as of September 2010.[12] The Android version of the game was downloaded more than 1 million times within the first 24 hours of release,[37] despite the site crashing at one point due to the load,[38] and over 2 million downloads in its first weekend.[39] Rovio receives approximately US$1 million per month in revenue from the advertising that appears in the free Android version.[2]

According to Rovio, players log more than 1 million hours of game time each day on the iOS version of the game,[11] 3.33 million hours per day across all platforms[3] and 40 million monthly active users.[40] In November 2010, digitaltrends.com stated that "with 36 million downloads, Angry Birds is one of the most mainstream games out right now."[4] MSNBC's video game news blog has written that "[n]o other game app comes close" to having such a following.[41] The Christian Science Monitor has remarked, "Angry Birds has been one of the great runaway hits of 2010".[5] In December 2010, in honor of the one-year anniversary of the release of Angry Birds, Rovio Mobile announced that the game had been downloaded 50 million times, with more than 12 million on iOS devices[2] and 10 million on Android.[42] By March 2011, the game had reached 100 million downloads.[3]

Ports

Since its initial release for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, Rovio has released versions of Angry Birds for a number of additional devices. One of the first was for Nokia's N900 handset,[35] through its Ovi Store. An iPad-exclusive version, Angry Birds HD, was released at the same time the iPad itself was released in April 2010.[43] In August 2010, Angry Birds was made available to the Palm Pre phone running Palm's webOS operating system through its App Catalog online store.[44] Symbian^3 phones received a version of the game in October 2010,[45] which initially includes only the "Poached Eggs" and "Mighty Hoax" episodes.[46] A subsequent free update added the "Danger Above" and "The Big Setup" episodes, and all associated content and improvements.[47]

In May 2010, Rovio announced plans for a version for devices using Google's Android operating system,[48] with a beta version being released through the Android Market in September 2010.[49] However, the full Android version of the game was first released instead on GetJar in October 2010,[36] though it was subsequently released on Android Market within days.[37] Rovio officials noted that GetJar had a more global reach than Android Market, and GetJar's availability on other smartphone platforms (including Symbian and Windows Phone 7) would make cross-platform promotion of the game easier.[36] Unlike the previous versions, Angry Birds for Android is a free, ad-supported application, as paid applications aren't supported on Android in some nations; an ad-free paid Android version is expected soon.[37] The upcoming "Bad Piggy Bank" update for Android will allow players to buy out the in-game ads.[42]

Near the end of 2010, Rovio stated that it was developing new ports of the game, this time for devices outside of the mobile phone market. In January 2011, three of those ports launched. First, Sony announced the North American release of Angry Birds for its PlayStation Portable handheld system in the form of a PlayStation mini game that includes nearly 200 levels from the original game; the version is also playable on the PlayStation 3.[27][50] Next, Rovio announced the released of a Windows version of the game[51] on January 4, 2011, available for sale exclusively from Intel's AppUp center, which included 195 levels at launch and plans for exclusive features not available on the smartphone versions.[52] One day after the Windows version was released, the Mac App Store launched, with one of the first offerings being its own version of Angry Birds.[53] Ports of Angry Birds are also proposed for the Xbox 360,[2] Wii,[2] Nintendo DS[54] and Nintendo 3DS[55] systems, as is a version for Facebook,[56] which is expected to launch in May 2011.[16] In October 2010, Microsoft suggested on one of its websites that a Windows Phone 7 version of Angry Birds was in development. After Rovio complained that Microsoft had not asked permission to make such a statement, noting that at that time it had not committed to design a Windows Phone version, Microsoft was requested to revise its site to remove references to the game.[36][57] Rovio has since confirmed that it is indeed preparing a Windows Phone 7 version of Angry Birds for release later in 2011.[58]

Special editions

Angry Birds Seasons

In October 2010, Rovio released a special Halloween edition of the game.[59] Angry Birds Halloween, exclusive to Apple iOS at the time and a separate application from the main game, included new levels with Halloween-themed music and graphics.[59] In December 2010, Rovio released Angry Birds Seasons to iOS, Android and Symbian^3 devices.[60][61] Seasons introduced 25 Christmas-themed levels, one for each day leading to the holiday, similar to an Advent calendar.[60][61] All versions include the previously-exclusive Halloween levels and are offered as separate, stand-alone paid applications, with the exception of the free, ad-supported Android version;[62] Angry Birds Halloween users on iOS received the Seasons levels as a free upgrade.[60] The Halloween version was given the episode title "Trick or Treat", while the Christmas episode was titled "Season's Greedings". In February 2011, Rovio released a new Valentine's Day update to Angry Birds Seasons, titled "Hogs and Kisses", complete with new themed levels and graphics, as well as the option to send Angry Birds-themed Valentine's Day messages through Facebook.[63] In March 2011, Rovio released a new St. Patrick's Day update, titled "Go Green, Get Lucky".[64] Rovio has announced a new Easter update, which will be released at some point before the actual holiday.[65]

Angry Birds Rio

Angry Birds Rio, a stand-alone edition tying into the release of the 20th Century Fox animated film Rio, was launched for iOS, Android and Mac OS X in March 2011.[66] In this version, the Angry Birds characters appear in Rio de Janeiro and interact with characters from the film.[66] Angry Birds Rio initially includes two chapters, each with 30 levels; the Angry Birds rescue caged exotic birds in the first chapter[67] and attack evil marmosets in the second chapter.[68] The game also includes new hidden items and planned level updates in May, July, October and November 2011.[69] The reception of Angry Birds Rio has been positive, with Ryan Rigney of GamePro saying the iOS version "boasts some notable improvements on its predecessors"[70] and Levi Buchanan of IGN, in his review of the Android version, calling the game "a smart, snappy new chapter for the series."[71]

Other media

The Angry Birds characters have been referenced in television programs throughout the world. The Israeli comedy show Eretz Nehederet (in English: a Wonderful Country), one of the nation's most popular TV programs, satirized recent failed Israeli-Palestinian peace attempts by featuring the Angry Birds in peace negotiations with the pigs. Clips of the segment went viral, getting viewers from all around the world. The sketch received favorable coverage from a variety of independent blogs such as digitaltrends.com,[4] hotair.com[72] and intomobile.com,[73] as well as from online news media agencies such as Haaretz,[74] The Christian Science Monitor,[5] The Guardian,[75] and MSNBC.[41] American television hosts Conan O' Brien and Jon Stewart have referenced the game in comedy sketches on their respective series, Conan and The Daily Show.[76][77] In the 30 Rock episode "Plan B", guest star Aaron Sorkin laments, "Our craft is dying while people are playing Angry Birds and poking each other on Facebook." In February 2011, American journalist Jake Tapper mockingly introduced U.S. Senator Chris Coons as the "Angry Birds champion of the Senate" during the National Press Club's annual dinner.[78] Some of the game's more notable fans include Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, who plays the iPad version of the game, and author Salman Rushdie, who claims he is "something of a master at Angry Birds."[79]

The game's popularity has spawned knock-off and parody games that utilize the same basic mechanics as Angry Birds. For example, Angry Turds features monkeys hurling feces and other objects at hunters who have stolen their babies.[80] Another game, entitled Chicks'n'Vixens and released in beta form on Windows Phone 7 devices, replaces the birds and pigs with chickens and foxes, respectively.[81] The developer of Chicks'n'Vixens intended the game as a "challenge" to Rovio Mobile, which has stated that a Windows Phone port of Angry Birds won't be ready until later in 2011.[81]

Rovio is investigating ways to expand the Angry Birds brand, including merchandise, television shows and movies.[82] The game's official website offers plush versions of the birds and pigs for sale, along with T-shirts featuring the game's logo and characters.[83] Mattel will distribute an Angry Birds board game, titled "Angry Birds: Knock on Wood", beginning in May 2011.[84] In March 2011, the characters began appearing in a series of advertisements for Microsoft's Bing search engine.[85] Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Mobile, has envisioned a feature film in the stop-motion animation style of Aardman Animation.[82] Hed acknowledges that such a film would be years away, and that Rovio must keep the characters relevant until then, by producing sequels or new ports of the original game.[82] Rovio officials have suggested that one such "sequel" will be told from the pigs' point of view.[86]

References

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External links