What is it about flinging little birds at green pigs that’s so addictive to a normally peace-loving, middle aged mom? I have many, many apps on my iPad, but the one I to which I keep returning day after day when I need some mindless occupation to distract me from work (and everything else) is Angry Birds from Rovio. I won’t venture into the psychology of why this game is so appealing—or why it’s one of the most popular apps for iPad and other platforms. I will only confess that I’m a true Angry Birds addict.
You see, there are these obnoxious green pigs and they’ve stolen the eggs of the poor defenseless bird community. They weren’t even green eggs. Just plain old eggs, straight from the feathered nest. Instead of taking it lying down, the birds have taken to the air—kamikaze style. Our mission is to help them take down the pigs wherever they hide—bunkered in or hunkered down behind glass, wood and brick.
It’s a simple game on its face. Little round red birds line up behind a sling shot, jumping into the saddle, as it were, when it’s their turn. Using your finger (and the iPad’s multi-touch abilities to great effect, you pull back on the sling shot, aim and fire away. The little red bird goes sailing at a trajectory, speed and force commensurate with the way you slung it from the sling shot. In subsequent levels, we are introduced to birds with special abilities: bluebirds that (when you touch the screen once they’re in flight) separate in to three birds; yellow birds that become supercharged; white albatross-like birds that drop egg bombs, and blackbirds that become ticking time bombs of destruction.
Angry Birds isn’t just a shoot-em up, it’s a battle of wits with the green pigs, who sit there in their shelter grunting and self-satisfied. The little piggies live in houses very difficult to take down, and the laws of physics apply in every level. Glass is easier to break than wood, and the birds bounce off the bricks. Depending on the weight and force of the launched bird, and its angle of impact, it may do little damage (or a lot). You get points for bricks, lumber and everything else your bird army destroys, including the pigs. Depending on how many points you get at each level, if you destroy the pigs, you acquire one, two or three stars for your efforts. There are some “Easter” eggs buried in the game, which open other challenge rounds. They are fun, but are fairly few between.
It’s really mostly a mindless entertainment, especially if you don’t think of the birds as birds, but as bird colored projectiles aimed at piggy-shaped balloons. (Who wants to aid in the self-destructive habits of sweet little birds?) The game is a logic puzzle (trying to figure out just where to aim those little kamikaze birds) and a test of hand-eye coordination in being able to aim just right to cause the piggy house to fall in and get those thieving pigs. Rovio has also come out with a seasonal versions for Halloween and Christmas—and I suspect more versions to come. There are an awful lot of us Angry Birds addicts out there just waiting for new and confounding challenges.