Reviewed: March 21, 2011
Released: January 4, 2011
At this point you would have to be pretty isolated to have not at least heard of the Angry Birds phenomenon. The kitschy casual game “app”, in which the birds wage an all-out assault on the egg-thieving pigs by conducting a series of slingshot kamikaze attacks, has all-but taken the smartphone industry by storm over the past year. In fact there was a near web-riot amongst the Android community when it took them nearly 8 months to get their hands on the title.|
Angry birds has been downloaded over 12 million times from the iPhone store alone; think of that…even at the on again - off again sale price of 99 cents, that’s one heck of a cash for a game that looks like it was made as a freshman computer programming project. Add in the nearly 90-odd million users on Android, Palm-OS, Blackberry, Symbian, and the various other smartphones, and you suddenly see that Finnish developer Rovio has a little goldmine in their pocket that alone has generated more revenue than entire nations. And if you give the game a minute of your time, you will realize that there is a reason for the game’s success. With Angry Birds, Rovio has hit the perfect balance of strategy, skill, and chance – resulting in highly addictive gameplay that can be just as simple, or just as complex, as the gamer who is playing it.
We are here to discuss the PlayStation Network “minis” version of Angry Birds for the PS3 and the PSP, and with nearly 100 million people in the world already playing the game, it’s hardly worth the time to describe the actual gameplay into too much depth. But for the sake of the few gamers who might not have crossed paths with Angry Birds, I will give a cursory overview.
Basically, birds are launched from a slingshot to connect with various structures constructed of wood, glass, stone, and metal. There are a handful of bird breeds each of which has a different special ability; red birds are basic wrecking balls that pack a lot of momentum, blue birds separate into three smaller birds that do massive damage to glass, yellow birds have a warp speed that absolutely destroys wood, blackbirds are destructive suicide bombers, and white birds drop precision bomb eggs.
Likewise, there are a handful of pig types – from small and fragile infantrymen to large armored generals; each takes a different amount of contact to be destroyed. The problem is, while the game allows the gamer to use a variety of bird types for each level – the game determines the number, they type, and the order that they will be used. There are many times where the levels could be cleared much quicker if the order of birds could be changed – but therein lies the challenge and the addiction that is Angry Birds.
The PSN minis version of Angry Birds costs $2.50 – pretty much the going rate – and is a scene-by-scene port of the smartphone versions save for one minor detail; touchscreen input, of course. But you know what? I think the game is better off without it. I have played the game extensively on the PS3 and the PSP (one purchase works for both), and it is my belief that the analog sticks on both machines provide far better precision than my fat fingers can achieve on a touch screen. I enjoyed a much greater degree of experimentation using the sticks and found a number of ways to creatively destroy the pigs in the least number of turns possible. I also liked the ability to zoom out to see the entire gameplay field by pressing both bumper buttons – helping with high-arcing shots.
But while Angry Birds is a faithful representation of the original iOS version, it does seem to be highly unstable on the PSP and PS3 – I experienced unexpected system resets and full system lockups more often that I care to admit on each of the two PS3s and two PSPs we used for the testing. It was annoying to say the least, but never annoying enough to keep me from coming back for more. As I said, Angry Birds is a faithful representation of the original, and at $2.50 it is a pretty good deal for a game that can be played on both the PS3 and the PSP. Owners of the original won’t find any new gameplay levels, but they might enjoy the precise analog-based input the PSP and PS3 sticks provide.