Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Angry Birds In Space

Hmm, Angry Birds goes retro sci-fi. . .

Yesterday I downloaded the demo for Angry Birds: Space.  I admit that I did so with some prejudice, expecting perhaps a simple palette swap.  Afterall, as Penny-Arcade so aptly illustrated, how could the usual sling shot physics work in space?

Well, I'm happy to report that it does work!  While there are some levels where gravity plays no role, most levels are built around small planetoids complete with their own gravity and atmosphere.  This makes for some complex and interesting trajectories.  Rovio has added a short predictive line to the interface to help you place your shot, but the larger and more complex the level, the less this line will help.

The atmosphere is an interesting element.  Mostly it serves to show where the effect of gravity begins, but it also is essential to the pigs who can not survive in the vacuum of space.  There is no explanation as to how the birds are able to survive in space (or why the slingshot's planetoid does not have gravity), but pigs must either live within a planetoid's atmosphere or within a small bubble of air.  Should that bubble pop, the pig will flash freeze and then shatter.

The pigs in bubbles, especially when placed above the atmosphere of a planetoid, are oddly reminiscent of the star child from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  On some levels though, the bubbles are given antennae and are clearly meant to represent old school space helmets.

As an added bonus, you can pop the bubbles on the level selection menu and freeze the pigs there as well.

There has been a sprite swap for the birds in order to bring the retro sci-fi theme together.  The red birds have been given a black mask, the blue birds a lightning cap.  The yellow birds, which are not used in the demo but shown in the cut-scene, are now purple with a Cyclops-esque visor.  The black birds have been dressed in orange suits with wide round collar and they have been given a ponytail that is lit on fire like a fuse.  The big red birds, which also do not feature in the demo, are now big green birds (no relation to boomerang birds).

There is also a bonus level included with the demo that pays tribute to Space Invaders.

Final Thoughts

I installed and played this demo on my computer.  I'm not sure how these expansive levels will look on a tiny iPhone or smaller android phone.

There also seemed to be a long wait at the end of the level of each level.  Presumably this is due to the complex physics.

All in all, I'd say that this is a great addition to the Angry Birds franchise.

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