After three years and three major titles, Rovio decided it was time to switch up the multi-billion-dollar formula of Angry Birds. But how do you change a game that is defined by a genre-defining physics system? Well, by changing the physics, and taking the infamous birds into the great unknown. Enter Angry Birds Space (also for iPad) , the first true sequel to Angry Birds.
At its core, Angry Birds Space is the same as its predecessors: the object is to knock over evil pigs and their towers by flinging various types of birds at them with a slingshot. This time, things aren’t as straightforward: each pig tower is on its own planet, with its own gravitational field. These gravitational fields – once entered by a careening bird – turn the series’ protagonists into feathered moons, sending them into orbit around the planet until they complete their mission of destruction.
It’s an interesting – and necessary – twist on the genre, and creates some really interesting moments of critical thinking when approaches new puzzles. Answers aren’t as straightforward as they once could be in previous installments: there are some levels where sending the bird in the opposite direction may actually be the right way, depending on trajectories and gravitational presences.
The changes to the core gameplay have wide-ranging effects on strategy, which keeps the nuances of spaces physics from feeling like a cheap gimmick, and more of a true evolution of what Angry Birds is – although it doesn’t change the game enough to win over the few detractors of the series who don’t enjoy the mix of repetition and luck required to three-star every level.
Unfortunately, Angry Birds Space isn’t a universal title, so there’s no iCloud support, and iPad users must shell out an extra two dollars for the HD version. There’s also a disappointing inclusion of an IAP-only set of levels, which feels unnecessary for a game with such lucrative merchandising and marketing deals.
This shouldn’t and won’t hold any fans of the previous titles back, though. Angry Birds Space is a worthy sequel, making needed changes to gameplay without alienating what made it so popular in the first place.