Android Review: Angry Birds

In early September, one of the most popular game on the iPhone fluttered onto the Android platform in the form of a "Beta Lite" version. The beta included 15 puzzles, but definitely left Droid users salivating for more.

For those that don't know about Angry Birds, the game is a physics-based puzzle game that requires the player to launch birds at structures that house pigs. The object of the game is to collapse the structure in such a way that it crushes, skewers or impacts all of the pigs. Once the pig is defeated, he'll vanish and add 5,000 points to the map score.

For a game such as this, how well the gameplay works is almost fully reliant upon how well the physics work. Luckily, Rovio Mobile has done a great job fine-tuning the physics. From the way that the structures collapse to the amount of pressure or impact that is required to defeat each pig, Angry Birds will rarely leave you legitimately questioning the engine. There are occasional occurrences where a block of wood or cement will stick onto another in a strange way, but those times aren't incredibly noticeable.

The other part of the gameplay that matters to a high extent is the launch system that the player uses to blast the birds onto their final destinations. To launch, the player simply uses the touch screen to pull back and aim the slingshot. Releasing will fire the bird at the trajectory and power defined by the pull-back. This works just as well as you'd expect. The only issue that we've really encountered is a small glitch that will sometimes cause the camera to pan when pulling back to preparation to launch a bird. While it's a rare glitch, the consequences can result in the attempt at the map being completely over.

All of this gameplay leads to one basic concept being proven true yet again in the realm of gaming: complicated simplicity, as contradictory as it sounds, breeds addictiveness. Just as Tetris, Puzzle Bobble, and Peggle before it, Angry Birds takes a seemingly easy objective and builds challenging obstacles around that goal. The formula works perfectly and has helped the game elevate to previously unexplored levels for most mobile titles.

The way that Angry Birds accomplishes this is by ingenious level design. The maps are each very intricate, but not to the point that they will confuse you. The structural integrity of each map looks as though it was designed by an architect or an engineer of some sort. Not only do the structures stand up and collapse perfectly, but each structure is designed in such a way that chain reactions can be set off to allow the player to reach higher scores and eventually score three stars on the map.

The Android version is significantly smaller than the iPhone version, containing 63 maps, rather than the about 150 included in the iPhone version. That doesn't mean that the game is a poor value. In fact, it might be the best value in the Android app store. While the iPhone's full version is $3, the Android version is completely free.

The only downside to this is the fact that it is ad-supported. Every so often, you'll catch a small advertisement popping up in the lower right corner of your screen. It's no big deal, but you may accidentally touch the ad, which will immediately open in your browser, causing your session to go on hiatus. Luckily Rovio has implemented true multi-tasking since the beta, which means that just because you accidentally exit the screen doesn't mean you have to start the map over. If you really don't like the idea of having ads, Rovio has assured us that a paid version that is ad-free is coming down the pipes sometime soon.

Angry Birds is the perfect example of what a mobile game can and should be. The game is easy to play, accessible to nearly everybody and something that can be started or stopped at any time. You'll start off simply trying to make it through each map, but soon enough, you'll be replaying maps hundreds of times trying to achieve three stars on every map. If you are the owner of a Droid and you don't have Angry Birds, you need to get on over to GetJar.com and download the app for free.