The fourth Angry Birds game is upon us. It's called Angry Birds Space and it's actually a far more impressive and interesting game of Angry Birds than we've ever seen before.
It's different. It's harder. And it's more expensive. Here's what you need to know.
It's not Angry Birds 2, but it might as well be.
For some reason, the Angry Birds people at Finnish development studio Rovio don't like putting numbers on their games, so after Angry Birds we got Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio. Seasons and Rio were just like that oldest bird: pure, simple video games that millions of millions of people could enjoy.
They've changed the way Angry Birds plays big-time in this new one, and they're offering 61 levels for you to try with their new style.
The old Angry Birds formula worked. It just got old.
It was simple in those older games: you put a bird in a slingshot and fired it in an arc toward a tower of blocks. If your aim was sure, you would knock those blocks over and squash a few green pigs sitting on or under them. That was the basic challenge in level after level.
You'd get a few birds in each level -- birds that could split into multiple birds, birds that could suddenly accelerate into a speed boost, birds that could explode.
For a while, it didn't get old.
Shoot the birds. Crush the pigs. Do it in as few turns as you could and you'd get a high score, unlock a new level and play some more.
You could play through a level in about 20 seconds and feel both like a master of complex trajectories and the recipient of the kind of lucky bounce that would earn a golfer a hole in one.
Thankfully, this 'Space' thing is the literal game-changer.
Angry Birds Space scraps some of the old rules.
Yes, you still play level by level. You still have a set number of birds -- birds of different types -- that you'll slingshot at towers of blocks, hoping to squash some pigs.
But now you're shooting your birds through space, from one planet to the next. Each planet has a gravitational field. Gone is the simplicity of just lobbing a bird in an arc. No. Welcome to the physics of the heavenly bodies. Shoot a bird into open space and it'll fly off in a straight line. Shoot one toward another planet and it'll get caught in its gravitational field and start orbiting the planet... or slowly descend as it encircles the planet to smash into the ground.
And there are new birds.
The new ice birds freeze structures, making them easier to shatter. Laser birds are like the old yellow birds, except you can re-aim them when you boost their speed. There's more.
The whole game is more complex, but the payoff is better.
If Angry Birds could made you feel smart or lucky before, Angry Birds Space will make you feel like a physics genius and a lotto winner.
Just imagine firing a bird from one planet, getting it caught in the gravitational field of another, which whips the bird around that planet and into the gravitational field of another planet, which spins the bird around that world in the other direction, so it can finally smack a snorting pig from behind.
This game may seem way more difficult than the ones before it.
Yes, they've definitely made Angry Birds Space harder than its predecessors. You won't have that much trouble learning about how the gravity works. But you'll be scratching your head at some of these challenges early on. To compensate they give you an aiming guideline that shows where your bird will go before you fire it.
They've even made the Eagle trickier to use.
The mighty eagle used to be an insta-win in the other Angry Birds games. In this one, he generates a black hole. That's good! But it has its limits. The black hole will suck away part of the level but it won't give you an immediate victory if you activated it in the wrong spot.
There are a few catches -- catches that cost money.
First of all, the game costs money if you're on iOS.
It's only free for Android users. You can download an ad-supported Android app or pay 99 cents for the "full" (caveat incoming!) game.
On iOS, you can pay 99 cents for a version that will run on iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, but if you want it to look good on your iPad, you need to pay $2.99 for Angry Birds Space HD, which, as far as we can tell, doesn't sync your progress with the phone version.
So if you have an iPhone and an iPad, you'll have to decide whether you want to pay for this game twice -- and play through it twice.
Unfortunately, a third of the game costs extra.
However you get Angry Birds Space, whatever you pay, you're only getting about two thirds of the game. You're getting 30 levels of the first zone, 30 levels of a second zone, 15 bonus levels and then a planet of super-difficult levels that... you have to pay more for.
Only the first level of Space's so-called Danger Zone is free. You have to pay 99 cents for the other 29 levels. That's the kind of hidden cost that pisses some people off, and it's one reason that Angry Birds Space has a few 1-star reviews on iTunes. (Note: the $US5.95 PC version appears to include these levels for the base cost)
Even once you pay, you'll still have to pay to unlock the Danger Zone levels. Warning: these levels are very hard.
But at least they've got some good jokes in this game. Like a Super Mario Bros. homage.
Angry Birds Space has 15 hidden golden eggs. Finding one and striking it will unlock a bonus level, each of which seem to be based on classic video games such as Space Invaders and Super Mario Bros.. Look for the Space Invaders egg in world 1-9. As we find more, we'll link to their locations here.
Angry Birds Space isn't that expensive. We recommend it.
Weird pricing strategies notwithstanding, Angry Birds Space is a far more interesting game than the older Angry Birds.
Some people may not like how much more complex it's become, but if the old games bored you or lost your interest, this new one is the breath of fresh air we needed.
Here are the numerous ways to get the game: Angry Birds Space [Android Free Version] Angry Birds Space [Android, 99 cents] Angry Birds Space [iOS for iPhone and iPad, 99 cents] Angry Birds Space HD [iPad only, $2.99] Angry Birds Space [Mac, $5.49] Angry Birds Space [PC, $US5.95]