Battle Bay Review

Battle Bay Review

May 31, 2017

As the Rovio universe continues to expand, we get to see more and more concepts from the minds that brought us the first batch of angry, vengeful avians, and I believe we are richer for it.

Welcome to Battle Bay, where birds do their battling on water.

And these birds don’t seem pacified just yet, by the way…

Rovio generally does graphics well, and this one is no exception. It glitzy without being overdone, with a lot of attention paid to animations and physics, just like we’d expect. It uses color well, and manages to be playful and life-like at the same time. The controls are easy to manage, and work well with the landscape orientation; shooting and direction can be controlled with both thumbs.

The visual and audio aspects are a great gateway.

And what do we get by way of action? Team battling, of course. The player gets to select a personal, armed boat, join a random team and take on another team in a war of attrition. Yep, shoot and/or be shot… basically take the enemy out before your team is decimated.

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And this where the controls are important. The virtual joystick is important, so that you can move, avoid fire and find opponents to get at. Shooting is somewhat automated, but requires a steady hand, plus a willingness to adjust so as to finish off fleeing enemies.

When one faction is dead, the battle is over, and it’s time to collect the bounty. These goodies — game cash, parts and the like — allow for upgrades and crafting, which are necessary to be more effective at battling. It’s a symbiotic system that works fairly well.

There are guilds, tasks and different modes to try out. real cash can be used to expedite operations, but isn’t necessary.

It’s a fun ride, almost surprisingly so, and has us wondering what else Rovio has cooking.

We’re hungry.

Rovio’s “ToonsTV for Samsung” App Launches

Rovio’s “ToonsTV for Samsung” App Launches

Nov 16, 2016

Android heavyweight developer Rovio has a new app out exclusively for select Samsung devices called ToonsTV for Samsung; it’s the first time Rovio Animation collaborated with a company to release ToonsTV videos.

The app has a new 12-episode series called Fun Game Coding which utilizes professional hosts to extend principles of game creation and coding. The hosts interact with characters from the Angry Birds universe in the productions in an effort to connect with young watchers.

ToonsTV chief Sanna Korppo talks about making content available to more families. “By working with Samsung, we’re taking a giant step forward in making our curated content available to more families across the country,” he says. “Giving our partners the ability to reach millions more potential fans with their amazing videos is a win-win deal for everyone involved.”

According to the press release, the app is available on the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, Note 5, Note 4, Tab S2, Tab A, and Tab E devices.

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Iconic Hip-Hop Group De La Soul Drops New Track for ‘Angry Birds Action’ Update

Iconic Hip-Hop Group De La Soul Drops New Track for ‘Angry Birds Action’ Update

Jul 13, 2016

Ha ha hey…

De La Soul, one of the most successful synonyms for longevity in the music industry, is helping along Rovio’s pinball caper/movie tie-in game Angry Birds Action! with its current update.

Almost more noteworthy is the fact that each of the three members of De La Soul is also getting a “birdified” characterization and will be appearing in this refresh in a limited time event.

More on “The Big Pig Update” is below:

The Big Pig Update to Angry Birds Action! treats players to a new De La Soul track “Action,” specially composed by the group for the game. The update also brings a one-week event hosted by the hip-hop pioneers in their birdified form, granting all players unlimited energy as a special power. “Action” marks the first time De La Soul have created music specially for a game.

Additionally, the Big Pig Update adds 90 completely new levels and unlocks Piggy Island for all players. Previously, the Piggy Island area in the game could only be unlocked by going to see The Angry Birds Movie in theaters.

Fascinating stuff; per the press release, we hear De La Soul also has a new album coming out — the first time in more than a decade.

Angry Bird Action! remains free (with in-app purchasing) on Google Play; check out our review.

Angry Birds Action! Review

Angry Birds Action! Review

May 29, 2016

If one mobile gaming developer can claim to have changed the landscape, it’s probably Rovio. Angry Birds helped usher in a new type of game, and a new monetization system to boot.

And it isn’t over yet. Say hello to Angry Birds Action!

As to be expected, the name (aim?) of the game is (still) recovering eggs, taking on baddies and doing other things which incensed avian creatures do when trapped in a recurrent pinball nightmare.aba3

Artistically, franchise savants should feel comfortable, what with the glossy, in-your-face graphics that catch the eye and define the very first Angry Birds way back when. There is a definite tropical feel to the game, and the use of color that manages to feel natural and whimsical at the same time. The sound is a good fit, with plenty of poppy effects. The game seems set to live or die by its animations, and it mostly lives.

The projectiles are quite familiar, as they are from the usual stable of creatures.

The gameplay boils down to pinball action, nothing is more suited as a control mechanism than the iconic pull and release motion that defines the original game. The game is consumed in portrait; in the playing area, there are eggs that are freed by contact, plus other obstacles and “bumpers” to keep things interesting. As noted, one drags the bird, sets the direction using a virtual arrow system, and then releases the bird to do mayhem.

The bird typically bounces around, doing its thing until it loses momentum; if all the eggs weren’t released, one gets to go again, up to the amount of times allowed. Yes, the idea is to release all the eggs with the fewest tries.

Finishing successfully opens the next level, and the 3-star system is in full effect. The game gets more challenging as one goes on. One interesting aspect are “birdcodes,” which allow one to access extra content via AB paraphernalia and even the upcoming movie.

All in all, it’s different, but familiar. It does have an energy requirement, but manages to be interesting, especially in spurs.

Angry Birds 2 Review

Angry Birds 2 Review

Aug 12, 2015

Angry Birds dropped on the mobile gaming scene and all but created a new genre of game. An entire generation of folks got lost in the infinite charm of bringing avian justice to wayward pigs.

What followed the original is an entire stable of spin-offs and branded versions: Star Wars, Rio, Go! and more.

Now, we get a “true” sequel to original blockbuster in Angry Birds 2. The pigs are just as insolent, the birds as, uh, angry and the game begs to be played.

While it is pretty much impossible to play this and not compare t to the original, we’re going to pretend to try. Visually, it looks familiar, with rich graphics and fluid animations. One can zoom in and zoom out to a degree, and the animated structure build-ups are a nice touch.

Gameplay involves using a bird with special abilities to take out a structure with pigs; the more damage to pigs and the structure, the better one scores. Using less birds is optimal as well. In this iteration of the game, there are elements like “rooms” within levels, a card meter, daily quests and more. One interesting piece is the presence of an energy requirement; burning up too many attempts causes one to run out of lives, and hey can be replenished over time or with real money via in-app purchase.

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So, it brings a lot of the stuff from the original, with a few nice extra touches here and there, helping the experience to be familiar without being a rehash. The birds are familiar in their abilities, and how they can generally be powered by tapping: speed, telekinesis, multiplication, explosion and such. There are boss pigs too.

The energy requirement is a bit of a drag, but such is the nature of free-to-play games, and it’s hard to begrudge developers a viable means of monetizing. There’s also offers to watch stuff to double rewards.

All in all, it’s a fun refresh, full of some surprises — and mostly of the good kind.

Angry Birds Stella POP! Review

Angry Birds Stella POP! Review

Apr 17, 2015

Angry Birds Stella POP!, eh? Alrighty.

If you’re casually wondering where Rovio is headed with this title, you’re probably not alone; this one manages to meld match-3, bubble popping and the familiar catapulted avians looking to get back at gruesomely smiling pigs and/or free cutesy animals. The methodology is fairly simple, and somewhat defined by its presentation.

In true Rovio fashion, there is an emphasis on expressive graphics and vivid coloration, with leafy themes and smooth animations. Unlike the traditional Angry Birds games, this one is oriented in portrait, such that a player is projecting from the “bottom” upwards, and the device sides serve as rebounding walls. It is an inventive-looking game that is in parts familiar and relatively fresh, and generally keeps the player’s attention at the start.

The basic premise of the leveled gameplay calls for launching bubbles into a maze of bubbles that pop2generally suspend a dastardly pig or two in airborne safety, or are restraining compatriots. The color of the bubbles vary, and the idea is to pop pockets of bubbles by making contact with a like-colored projectile. “Three” is the magic number here, and when enough restraining bubbles are done away with, whatever is suspended drops, which is pretty much the object of the game.

The game has an arcade feel; there are power-up birdy projectiles that can be activated by streaks, and different aspects to the gameplay (like a limited amount of projectiles, or variations in the puzzle structure) that add to the potential for fun. There is a tweaked, fillable version of the renown three-star grading system too, so that a player can look to repeat levels in the quest for absolute perfection.

Failure has costs, as there is a set number of lives, and this all but boils down to an energy requirement. This can be overcome with time or real money.

It plays well, and is helped by the fact that it is simple. There is a lot of variation within the same system, and it all ties together nicely. As with most Angry Birds games, said simplicity might also be a drawback, but the game works.

RETRY Review

RETRY Review

Nov 28, 2014

RETRY is one of those games that is frustratingly great. Like the Flappy Bird of yore it is capable of frustrating the pants off of any player but also to keep them coming back for more.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-12-48-58RETRY’s concept is as simple as can be. The player guides a small yellow plane from the beginning of a course to the end. These courses feature lots of up and down slopes, small tunnels, water and sometimes even moving blocks. Along the way are checkpoints the player can unlock to begin again from that point.

The catch is that the plane controls very weirdly. Pressing down hard on the throttle causes the plane to flip and loop and eventually probably crash into whatever is above it. There are no directional controls. The player must control the plane entirely by pressing and releasing the throttle.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-10-52-30As awful this sounds it is also deeply satisfying. With careful use of the throttle the player can flip and loop though obstacles and feathering it at just the right rate allows the plane to glide along at the perfect angle and land safely. This is a lot of fun.

Whenever the player crashes, which will happen a lot, they can restart at a number of checkpoints found along the way. These checkpoints must be unlocked however. The player can use coins to unlock them. These coins are found along each course and often placed in positions that will cause players to crash if they aren’t careful when picking them up. Coins can also be bought with real money. Lastly – and this is the most controversial choice – they can watch a 15 second video ad to unlock the checkpoint.

RETRY embraces its old school vibe in a way few games have on Android. Older gamers will grin from ear to ear at this game’s presentation. A great fresh, colorful visual style with pixel art really gives RETRY that warm old school vibe that many games on the Play Store shoot for but few hit. The sound is extremely good as well. Dangerously catchy chiptunes warble away in the background and suit the game exceptionally well. The actual sound effects are very limited like you’d expect from an old game. There is the putt putt of the plane’s engine and the “tack” of smacking into yet another obstacle. Particularly great is the super triumphant sound that checkpoints make when you unlock them. RETRY is a smile stretcher.

For all its old school charm however RETRY feels a little dirty. The way the player can choose to watch ads to unlock checkpoints feels..unclean like the game is taking advantage of the player in a way games really shouldn’t. If the game wasn’t as hard as it is this would be less of a problem. The game also has an ad on its pause screen, which is less excusable. It doesn’t help that this is labelled “Rovio News” like its actually something interesting rather than the upteenth shrilling of a certain overexposed game license that should have ended long ago.

RETRY is fun stuff, a real challenge and it is a unique idea which isn’t often seen on mobile. Despite the insidious ad system RETRY is definitely worth a look.


Angry Birds Epic Review

Angry Birds Epic Review

Jun 16, 2014

Angry Birds Epic is finally here, in all its official, free-to-play glory.

While the characters will feel familiar, the gameplay is a bit different; this one is a role playing game in conception, and he action is turn-based.

The piggies have not learned their lesson, which is unfortunate. They are still stealing eggs, and the initial red bird forgoes the intricate catapult method of vengeance, and instead dons some medieval-looking gear and takes it to the streets… in a manner of speaking. The first few battles (along with the highlighting done by tutorial) help bring the basic gameplay to life: the protagonist bird faces off against a pig and proceed to consummate a battle of attrition based on alternating moves. The winner is the creature left standing at the end.abe1

The battles are a series of opportunity costs, as one can decide to either attack or fortify oneself on a turn. Attacking is done by drawing a line to the target, which allows for the bird to inflict damage on the enemy. Then, the opponent gets a chance to return the favor.

Instead of attacking, though, it is possible to pick a defensive boost, which serves to parry some damage away. As the gameplay goes on, multiple opponents can appear in a level, and there are wave-type levels and even boss levels as well. On the protagonist side, multiple bird get unlocked as well, so that the battles are a bit more even. One fun element is the ability to transfer attributes from one bird to another. This allows for a bit of strategy to be involved in decision-making.

Winning yields stars, tenders and chances to spin for further goodies. There is a crafting element that exists beyond the fighting. Crafting allows for the creation of consumables and such that make the game more challenging; real money can be used to supplement this.

I do think the crafting portion could be a bit less convoluted, and even the RPG element get a bit busy in places. Still for a deviation from the tried and true, Angry Bird Epic is very, very far from disappointing.

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Bad Piggies Gets An Update for Halloween

Bad Piggies Gets An Update for Halloween

Oct 17, 2013

It’s Halloween time, which means time for mobile games to add content to keep up with the festive cheer. The spinoff to Rovio’s most successful game is getting some new stuff as well, to the tune of 30 new levels in the “Tusk Till Dawn” update.

Along with these 30 spooky and cake oriented new game levels to play on, the pigs are getting creepy masks, and there’s some new tunes available for purchase to rock out to in the game.

Source: Pocketgamer

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

Oct 3, 2013

There was a time each new a new game in the Angry Birds franchise was met with fanfare. We could not get enough of the raging flyers, the maligned pigs and the catapults. We’ve seen the birds take over Rio, inhabit space, and go George Lucas-y with the force. We even got to see the pigs become protagonists, and bought the plush toys. In our home, there is at least one Angry Birds t-shirt that is worn proudly and regularly.

But it’s 2013. There is no way Angry Birds Star Wars II can continue the streak, is there?

At this point, for most smartphone and/or tablet wielding folks with either a child or parent, the gameplay will be familiar. These birds angrily don the personae of Star War characters again, and are tasked with wrecking Empire structures and lackeys. The main weapons are the propelled birds themselves, injected with kinetic energy via the huge catapult to the left. Basically, the goal is to angle the the flight of the birds to inflict as much damage as abf1possible and destroy each pig. The number of birds available is limited, so a bit of strategy is needed to minimize the use of birds (which maximizes the score, and increases the chances of getting the coveted three-star grade).

In this version of the game, the assumed ambience is what will probably be most appealing. As in the prequel, a lot of Star Wars favorites take on bird characteristics: Luke, Leia, Obi Won Kenobi and more. But, in an interesting twist, it is possible to play as the pigs on the aptly named “Pork Side” and go with double-bladed Darth Maul, for example. In fact, the characterization component is HUGE; besides allowing players to pick a side, it is also possible to import Teleport characters via camera (I didn’t get a chance to try this), and powered characters can be earned and used at will.

In essence, it is a whole lot of the same, but quite a lot of new… mostly enough to keep folks engaged.

It’s 2013… and Rovio still pulls our heartstrings. Darn.

Angry Birds Seasons To Possibly Bring The Circus To Town

Angry Birds Seasons To Possibly Bring The Circus To Town

Apr 29, 2013

Pocket Gamer reports that Angry Birds Seasons looks to be taking a trip to the circus in an upcoming update. Rovio revealed an image that shows the new theme and has piggies dressed up as clowns and magicians.

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Angry Birds Star Wars Review

Angry Birds Star Wars Review

Nov 12, 2012

Rovio is at it again, and this time the birds are bringing the Force with them. Its most current reboot of its franchise hit, Angry Birds Star Wars shows us what George Lucas would have imagined Luke Skywalker and co. if he had used our bird heroes as rebels, catapults for space travel and piggies as loathed star troopers.

It’s all about the Jedis.

The basics of Angry Birds Star Wars remain simple: the object is to use propelled bird protagonists to destroy the pigs and whatever unholy lairs they were holed up in. In this variation, the Star Wars story is brought to life by Rovio characters; it was well worth failing a level to get Darth Vader Pig to poke fun at me. The birds get SW-esque powers to replace the ones that might have been familiar in earlier iterations of Angry Birds: look for the Force manipulations and the swiping lightsabers. My favorite? Solo blasting pigs in mid-air.

Fans of the pigs (I hear there truly are sick people out there) will rue the fact that their reputations are further ruined; there is no coming back from dressing as storm troopers and other evil folks in the Star Wars universe. Leia, Solo and a black-robed Kenobi take on roles for the birds; this will be a true treat for Star Wars fans, especially when paired with the developer’s whimsical (but fairly accurate) take on the iconic musical score. Seeing a blond Bird Skywalker was ludicrously appropriate.

In app purchasing is (or rather, can be) a major part of the game; I could purchase more levels at different locations. The Millennium Falcon makes its small screen debut as a solver of sorts (and was a fun diversion), and its strafing runs could be painstakingly earned, or bought in bunches. After 10 stars, I was rewarded with a new unlocked areas or other rewards. These bonuses recurred at star intervals.

Angry Birds Star Wars had plenty of the familiar, but just enough re-imagination to keep me engaged. I literally had to see what was next. I had to find Chewie and C-3PO. This yearning is what makes this game THE game of the season. As long as we don’t see Angry Birds Titanic or Angry Birds Twilight, I’m down.

Oh, who am I kidding. Rovio: bring it on!