Why I Love Angry Birds

The Con

The puzzle destruction video game Angry Birds has become an international sensation. Initially created for the iPhone and iPad, the games popularity has forced the Rovio, the games maker, to include the Droid, Palm and Sony Play Station 3 platforms as well.  The game is so popular Rovio Mobile is considering an Angry Birds IPO.

The game itself is wickedly simple.  Evil pigs have stolen eggs from some wingless, no very pissed off birds.  In order to keep these eggs, the green mucus colored pigs are hidden in various city construction detritus.  Various species of birds, each a different color with a different style of movement, jump into a slingshot and are flung by the player at the wood, ice, cement etc.  The pigs are killed when the material or birds land on them and a level is finished when all the pigs are killed.

As of this writing, there are three total Angry Birds apps available for purchase: the original, Angry Birds Seasons a holiday themed affair and the new Angry Birds Rio.  I have been hooked on this game every since my pal Liz Georges Emrich giddily told me to down the app from iTunes, playing on average a half hour a day.

The game is so simple, colorful and well, stupid…just how could a grown man get hooked into all this video game destruction?  Wasn’t it supposed to go the way of playing with fireworks before the 4th of July around age 13?  (Ok, I still do that too but still…)  According to an app study published by Awesome Giant (below), there are four reasons why Angry Birds is all the rage:

1. High Production Value

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than putting out a cheap looking app. Quality design for apps can be one of the factors that help it stand out from the crowd.  Even if the app does amazing things, if the production value is cheap it’s going to be hard to rise in the charts.  Angry Birds has done a great job of coming up with characters that are simultaneously unique, cute, and angry, appeals to both male & female demographic, and creates environments with high quality illustration and detail. Truly a well made app that was thought out from all angles.

2. Quality Sound Design

Another tell-tale sign of a cheaply made app is the sound design.  You know, the free midi files someone downloaded off a horrible site with hundreds of free sounds.  We don’t want that, we want to hear original sounds that are pleasant to the ear.  In the case of Angry Birds, they have carefully thought out all the sound effects.  Since the game involves launching birds at solid structures, we get total satisfaction with the sound effects through that whole process:  Slingshot sounds, bird flying sounds, contact sounds, and broken structures.  All this gives the end-user instant satisfaction and feedback, even if you totally miss.  The sounds really help make the game FUN.

3. Endless Interesting Levels

I know there must be an end to this game, but seriously there are so many levels that it feels like endless play. It goes on and on and on.  As if that’s not enough the publisher keeps putting out updates with new levels!  It’s not enough to just put out more of the same though, what makes this work is that new levels come with new stuff… different kinds of birds, structures, challenges, environments.  So it stays interesting and new.

4. Easy, Yet Challenging

Perhaps the most important ingredient the game has mastered is that it is easy enough to do well, especially in the first dozens of levels, so you get immediate gratification.  Yet it has a slow building difficulty curve which keeps you challenged and dying to beat that level!   Also there is no learning curve, nothing to figure out before you play. You just dive in and start shooting those birds.  Some levels really are very difficult, but because you’ve built up the skills early on, it keeps you working to beat yet another level.   A very delicate balance between success, fun, and challenge, which the game gets exactly right.

The above analysis is, in your occasional intrepid blogger’s opinion, the same reason Space Invaders was popular lo those many years ago.  Thus, some may conclude that Generation X and Y are crazy about this app/game because of nostalgia.  And they maybe right.

Me?  There is no nostalgia for me about Angry Birds.  I’m in it to kill the pigs, like a good Jew should.

(Hat Tip: Jim Chesna)







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