Hear me out on this one.
I know this game of the week is focused on a Rovio-developed Angry Birds’ title, a series and studio that to many embody everything wrong with video games, more specifically the mobile gaming industry.
But if you’re able to look past the cloud of controversy that surrounds Rovio’s releases, what you’ll find is yet another superb mobile title, ruined to some extent by rampant free-to-play monetization. It seems Rovio didn’t learn from the frustrating pay-as-you-go nature of the otherwise excellent Angry Birds 2, and has once again added it to Angry Birds Action, a game that is a loose tie-in to the upcoming Angry Birds movie.
Similar to the tragically underrated Bad Biggies, Rovio’s latest is a new spin on the traditional Angry Birds concept. Instead of launching birds with a two dimensional slingshot, Angry Birds Action is Rovio’s take on pinball, tasking players with bouncing birds off objects in order to destroy various eggs. Think the traditional concept of pinball, but with Angry Birds characters and branding.
Environmental obstacles such as ice, wood and rocks obstruct the player’s path and levels become increasingly difficult (I’m only about half way through the game). Similar to other Angry Birds’ titles, subtly directing your avian projectile towards its intended target, as well as selecting the correct bird for the right level, is key to success. Following the completion of each stage, players are awarded with a final score and either a one, two or three star rating, giving completionists an additional goal to vie for (I actually three-stared every stage in the original angry birds).
Unfortunately, similar to many of Rovio’s other recently release games, it’s Angry Birds Action’s free-to-play features that cause frustration, an issue that could, at least for some, ruin an otherwise great mobile gaming experience.
Taking a page from Supercell’s Clash of Clans, as well as Angry Birds 2, when the player runs out of lives, they’ll need to wait a specified period of time before making another attempt at the stage (usually about 15 minutes). The only way around this time limit is to shell out real world cash for Gems that let the player push forward immediately. It’s worth pointing out that Gems, which are used for retries as well as to buy in-game items like beach balls (they help you destroy more eggs in certain situations), can also be earned by just playing the game, though coming across them is rare.
If you’re able to look past Angry Birds Action’s free-to-play mechanics, however, you’ll discover a refreshing take on Angry Birds’ bite sized sling shot action. If only Rovio would go back to the classic one-time payment system of a few years ago, but that shift likely won’t happen any time soon.