Let's wind the clocks back to 2009, as really, to appreciate what Angry Birds has become, I think we need to go back and appreciate what Angry Birds was. The App Store was a crazy place. The "gold rush" was still in full effect. Publishers like Chillingo were trying to stake as large of a claim as possible in this brave new world brought about by the impulse-powered instant gratification of downloading a 99¢ game and the exploding popularity of the iPhone.

Chillingo was incredibly successful in pooling together a library of games we called "AAA titles" at the time. iDracula [$2.99] may look incredibly archaic by today's standards, but back then, it was among the cream of the crop. In late May, Chillingo spun off a new brand called Clickgamer.com, which per the original press release was intended to "carry casual games and software applications in the Apple App Store. This new brand will fully complement Chillingo’s existing catalogue of AAA innovative titles."

Clickgamer.com's aisle in the App Store was (and still is) an odd assortment of ultra-casual games and apps ranging from the SAT Vocabulary Builder [$1.99] to sliding block puzzle games like Pic n' Mix [$0.99]. Reading between the lines of Chillingo's own distinction between the AAA Chillingo and Clickgamer.com brands, it wasn't difficult to see why Angry Birds [$0.99] was relegated to the non-AAA Clickgamer.com brand when it launched, as the late-2009 1.0 version of the game really wasn't anything that special. Or, as we mention in our original review which almost seems laughable now:

When you see a game with a name as nondescript as Angry Birds, it's pretty hard to get excited. Even after playing through the first few levels, I was enjoying this game, but failing to see the real appeal.

The original release had a barebones array of birds, 63 levels, no leaderboards, no achievements, and no, really… anything else. Angry Birds wouldn't even strike it big until months later in early 2010, when Chillingo announced that the game had been downloaded over half a million times. Whether that sales surge was a result of Chillingo's marketing prowess or creative consulting as a publisher or the product of Rovio's hard work seems to be a matter of perspective, and the answer to that question depends more on who you ask. Regardless, Angry Birds has yet to let go of a position on the top ten iTunes sales charts.

The Angry Birds kingdom expanded into the Angry Birds empire with the self-published release of both Angry Birds Seasons [$0.99] and Angry Birds Rio [Free] over the next couple of years. Since then, Rovio has grown further yet, and now days it's difficult to find a platform that doesn't have Angry Birds on it as the brand has made its way to the browser, smart TV's, and even feature phones being sold in emerging markets. Think about that. People in African countries rocking series 40 Nokia phones have Angry Birds.

Despite Rovio's unprecedented levels of success, recently it has been hard to dispute the argument that the Angry Birds formula might be getting a little stale. I've always been excited to play through the levels added in new updates, but for a while now I've felt like I'm just going through the motions of figuring out the weak points in the pig defenses, launching a bird, collecting my three stars, and moving on. This lead to the inevitable question of what could Rovio do in a sequel to not only revitalize the brand to players who have grown bored, but also provide a big enough twist on gameplay to make it worth having a fourth installment in the series?

It turns out the answer was to head to space.

Angry Birds Space [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] is close enough to the rest of the Angry Birds family that anyone even vaguely familiar with the games will be able to hop right in. It features the same premise of flinging birds in a big slingshot into dastardly egg-stealing pigs, but this time, your shots are assisted by a dotted line coming off the front of the slingshot to make the aiming process a little more transparent. The boss battles from Rio even make an appearance.

It comes packed with the familiar family of birds, with some minor modifications. All of the birds got a cosmetic upgrade, with snazzy looking space outfits. More importantly, some of their functionality has changed. For instance, the new version of the yellow bird doesn't just dash forward. Instead, tapping on the screen sends it homing in on that specific location, even allowing for complete trajectory changes in flight. The force exerted by the bomb bird seems to focus more on pushing things rather than destroying them, and a new freezing bird turns anything inside of its blast radius into ice, allowing for easy cleanup with blue birds.

The magic of Angry Birds Space comes from the physics tricks Rovio is able to pull off by leaning on the gravitational fields of the various planetoids that make up many of the levels. Birds shot into space fly straight as an arrow, as obviously, there isn't any gravity to make them do anything differently. Gravity fields are indicated by faint blue halos, and completing each level (particularly with three stars) involves the intelligent mastery of both zero gravity as well as the (potentially) multiple gravitational pulls of the different planetoids that the pigs have set their forts up on.

This varying gravity system allows for some incredibly elaborate level design, including puzzle elements that would never have been possible with the "traditional" gravity model of previous Angry Birds titles. One early level that exhibits this in a particularly clever way involves the introduction of the bomb bird. Players are faced with a bunch of pigs hanging out and being smug on a gravity-rich planetoid.

There isn't a clear shot to be had between the slingshot and the pigs themselves, as there are all sorts of asteroids littering the top half of the screen. Completing the level actually requires delicate use of the bomb birds to gently push the asteroids down into the gravity field, at which point they come smashing down on the pigs. Other levels involve shooting your birds to catch the rim of a gravity field, placing them in an orbit of sorts to slingshot around to hit an otherwise unreachable target.

The truly interesting thing that I've found is that this gravity mechanic has allowed for some incredibly creative ways to complete levels. The comparison may be a bit of a stretch, but in Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99] the way to truly have fun in that game was to come up with the most absurd and imaginative solution to each puzzle. Sure, nearly every level can be solved by equipping yourself with some wings and a gun, but there's just a certain sense of satisfaction to be had when you figured out how to somehow work Cthulhu into your solution. Similarly, while most levels in Angry Birds Space often have a fairly clear-cut solution, I've been having way more fun coming up with the most convoluted flight paths for my birds, with personal bonus points awarded for as many orbits as possible before expertly slamming whatever bird I fired into a pig.

Some other changes have been made to Angry Birds Space, namely, the addition of a new in-app purchase system. In previous games, the Mighty Eagle is a one time 99¢ purchase which allows you to skip one level every hour. The Mighty Eagle also adds an entirely new (although not necessarily immediately apparent) game mode where you can go back to previously completed levels and fire off the Mighty Eagle shooting for destroying everything on screen.

Unfortunately, now not only is the Mighty Eagle a consumable item, but it also doesn't automatically skip a level. When you fire out the sardine can, the Mighty Eagle can totally miss, leaving whatever smug pigs are left on screen laughing at your failure. Additional Mighty Eagles are awarded in small quantities by just playing the game. Alternatively, 20 Mighty Eagle shots can be purchased for 99¢, with additional packs of Mighty Eagles ranging all the way up to 980 for $19.99.

Out the gate, Angry Birds Space comes loaded with two level packs: "Pig Bang" which serves as more of a tutorial for the new space-centric physics and "Cold Cuts" which introduces the new freezing bird. A third (very difficult) level pack entitled "Danger Zone" is available via a 99¢ unlock, and if you even find yourself vaguely enjoying the two included packs, the third one is basically required.

This raises the question of what is going to come of the future of Angry Birds updates, as the tea leaves of this IAP-unlocked level pack can be read in numerous ways. Angry Birds has been known by its seemingly never-ending stream of free content via updates, and I find it to be a little hard to believe that Rovio would put a stop to that with Angry Birds Space. My gut is telling me that future updates might follow a path of offering up a free pack and an optional ultra-difficult paid pack like "Danger Zone" for hardcore players… But, we'll have to wait for the first update to land to know for sure.

If you're playing on a new iPad, you'll be happy to know that the HD variety of Angry Birds Space comes with crisp Retina Display-friendly graphics. Neither the HD or standard versions are universal, so, having the optimal Angry Birds Space experience requires some App Store double dipping if you want to play on both your iPhone and iPad. Sadly, there still doesn't seem to be any way to sync progress between versions of the game, so, in that regard, there isn't much point in buying it twice anyway.

Angry Birds is the unlikely candidate with meager beginnings that somehow managed to redefine both mobile gaming and the levels of financial success that are possible in the mobile space. The brand is known worldwide, and the series is enjoyed by everyone from hardcore gamers, to celebrities and athletes, to my own father who couldn't possibly be more of a non-gamer. Angry Birds is the Super Mario Brothers of mobile devices, and Angry Birds Space is so successful in redefining the Angry Birds formula that everyone should give it a try.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Pavelbure

    Was hoping for a universal app. I hope they add icloud support then.

    • Ben

      It really is ridiculous that the iPad version is completely separate. Really greedy move from a company that's going to make a billion dollars off this game anyway. Lack of iCloud support is a big problem too.

      • JPhilipp

        Apple could fix this with new guidelines, I suppose... might ease things on users. Old apps could still use the non-HD/ HD separation approach, but new ones would be forced to be universal (or just support one device).

      • kimou75

        that would be great but that's not in apple's interest.
        i wont buy this angry bird twice and i cannot choose between ipad and iphone version, so i wont buy it :p

      • JPhilipp

        Easing user's life IS in Apple's (commercial) interest... an easy to use platform has the chance to attract more users. Users might also feel more comfortable buying an app knowing that it will replicate across all their devices; understanding this, they might even feel more comfortable to buy music, movies etc. (it would also help a great deal if Apple wouldn't allow you to be charged TWICE for the same piece of music; they already know how to handle this with apps). Whether that will beat the commercial effect of "paying twice" (non-HD + HD) is of course hard to tell.

      • jclardy

        Apple uses the App Store and its other software services to lure people to their hardware. iTunes as a whole is chump change compared to their hardware profits. So it is in Apple's best interest to make things as simple, fair and easy to use as possible.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sheepshead-Bay-Man/100002618403176 Sheepshead Bay Man

        Your a 100% correct on this one.

  • Crex1111

    I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at how great this game really is. It certainly exceeded my expectations and is now my favorite Angry Birds game.

  • SD011

    I have only one problem with the game. On iPhone, all the characters are very, very little, I can barley see where I shoot the birds. Maybe Rovio only care about the iPad version...

  • thomin

    I was going to buy it until I read about the level pack purchase. I hate that kind of thing. I'm willing to pay a higher price up front, but I won't purchase a game where I don't know how much I have to pay in order to enjoy the full experience. The Angry Birds success is in large parts due to the large content for the base price, it was a stupid idea to mess with that.

    • http://twitter.com/nixarn Niklas Wahrman

      I bought it, found no level packs, everything was enabled like in the original angry birds. The article seems to be wrong at that point :S or maybe that's on Android or something?

  • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

    ABS is no doubt a great installment to series. We got some really fresh mechanics, finally. Grabbed both the iPhone and iPad version of the game. It's kind of sad seeing Rovio monetizing the game so heavily all of a sudden though. Changing the ME to a consumable along with DLC level packs at the same time? Doesn't really matter though. People will pay for the iAPs and any future ones to come.

    @back2this:twitter 

  • brendan kirk

    You forgot to mention, or perhaps didn't know, that the iPad version comes with the "Danger Zone" levels already unlocked. I always thought the extra $1.99 was a bit much just to play on iPad and this really made me happy. I guess Rovio is favoring iPad owners a bit!

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I paid 99¢ to unlock Danger Zone on my iPad, and it's shown as the #1 IAP item on the iTunes listing for the HD version. Are you sure someone didn't already unlock it for you without you knowing?

      • brendan kirk

        Nope, but I got it like 5 seconds after launch so maybe a bug? It's the first levels I played because I wanted to try the new bird and I did think it was weird I could play it without beating any other levels first. That's funny though, about time the app had a charge error in MY favor.

      • Dave Johnson

        I too got the Danger Zone for free on my iPad.  At least the first level was.  I've played it, but didn't beat it, so I don't know if the rest are as well.

      • Dave Johnson

        NM, just that first level is unlocked from the start.  After I beat that, I had to buy the rest.  It's a real shame that Rovio went so heavy on the IAP model.

      • theundertow

        Agreed - I would have bought it in a heartbeat yesterday until I saw the list of IAP.

      • http://twitter.com/nestor704 Nestor Fenoy

        I also had the Danger Zone levels unlocked from the start on my iPad, before I even had time to purchase them. I did not get the 3 eagles until later on, though.

    • http://twitter.com/Hawk_Ky Kyle Sus

      They are not unlocked.  You can play the first level for free, but after that you have to pay.

  • Gwet17

    I'm shocked that you failed to mention my biggest problem with the game.  I find it ludicrous that there was no exposition as to how or why the birds gained superpowers.  I think Rovio missed a huge opportunity to bring the franchise to new heights in the narrative department.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Well, maybe that'll be part of what they focus the alleged Angry Birds TV show and/or movies on. :)

      Anyway, the trailer explains it! They catapult themselves into a magic wormhole!

  • http://www.facebook.com/powa1216 Henry Lee

    I didn't like the original Angry Birds, but I find this very fun!

  • Brian Newhouse

    Great review Eli! I just finished beating the first two worlds and am on to the Danger Zone. Just bought it after I beat the one that comes with it! This should be interesting... and really difficult too... :)

  • Jeff Davis

    Doesn't look like complete iPad retina. Mostly standard res and the icon doesn't even look retina.    

  • lizsen

    I think this is one of best iPhone games now a days .. I am addicted to it :) All of the series is great and it keeps a hold on you throughout the play !!

  • annaharris170

    I have
    played all versions of Angry Birds but due to some reason I not able to play
    Angry Birds Space & superhero… I hope I like it as much as first version
    of Angry Birds.

  • Tondog

    Fantastic review Eli Hodapp! I became kinda bored of the whole Angry Birds formula, but I decided to give this one a shot and have fallen in love with it. That gravity element really adds a lot more strategy to the game.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathansmith36 Jonathan Smith

    I picked this game up for the iPad. I was concerned the iPhone version was going to be too small for some of the bigger levels. I really wish this was universal so I didn't need to make a decision on which one. I was hoping this review might address this issue with advice on which version is more playable, but instead they just told me to buy both despite not being able to transfer saves between them. Thanks a lot.

    I really wish that they would have knocked them down a peg for going the IAP route on this one, especially on release day no less. They should have at least waited until releasing the first free level pack to offer this paid one. This just seems like content that was ripped out of the game as released to charge for it separately. The first 3 AB games have become absolutely amazing values by this point in their lifecycle for $.99 games. I would be perfectly fine with buying DLC for this Space version to make up for how much value I got out of the first games, but I am hesitant to start down that path without knowing how much the total cost will become. These $.99 level packs might contain a lot more gameplay value than some complete games out there, but I don't want to look back 5 years from now and realize that I paid $157 for this game.

    If they did a lifetime pass for $19.99 that included all future DLC and infinite Eagles I would absolutely do it. But as it is I don't even want to use my free Eagles because if I am going to pursue feathers I want to get them all without needing to pay for consumable Eagles. If they gave you an Eagle for every 3 star level then you could conceivably get all the feathers without paying as long as you were perfect each time, which would be ridiculous but at least possible.

    Hopefully when they release then next major Angry Birds release they will go back and make the level packs free and the Eagles infinite. Now I wonder if iOS games will start to go the same route as PS3 games with DLC, by releasing a GOTY edition that bundle all DLC and extra features. That way for all these silly games that have way too much IAP for basic content I could just skip them completely. Then I could go back and play the completed GOTY edition that bundles it all for a discount a year or two later.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I'm not sure I'd agree that Danger Zone feels like "content that was ripped out of the game," as you put it. There's a definite substantial jump in difficulty between the included level packs and the IAP-unlocked one. I breezed through the first two pretty easily, but have found myself getting totally stuck on Danger Zone levels to the point that I just need to put my iPad down and come back at them later. That level of challenge was totally worth 99¢ to me, as the difficulty jump is almost like playing a different game comparatively.

      I agree with you on the new method that the Mighty Eagle is being sold. I wish there either was an "unlock everything" like you mention, or, better yet, you could go back and use the Mighty Eagles for free in completed levels- Much like how in the original Angry Birds you could use the Mighty Eagle as much as you wanted without the 60 minute timer on levels you've beaten. I'm fine with them selling them to move forward, but I am totally not going to dump money into getting the Mighty Eagle feather on each level, which is too bad, as I really enjoyed doing that in other Angry Birds titles.

      I think it's a bit premature to pass judgement on this IAP route with Rovio. Historically speaking, it's hard to come up with another studio that has been better to their fans in giving away content, listening to feedback, and everything else. It wouldn't surprise me to see them rein in the IAP a bit if that's what they're seeing the majority of the community ask for.

  • Keith Smith

    Love it.  Bought it for my iPhone and Mac, and yeah, I paid twice for it (obviously) but hey.  The one thing I would have liked to see is, since I get the GameCenter welcome back message every time I start it up, it would be nice to be able to pick up on the Mac where I left off on the iPhone, at least optionally.  C'mon, Rovio.  Can't be hard.

  • araczynski

    so rovio went around bitchslapping all their customers with a slew of asia inspired IAPs eh?, oh well, they are a one trick pony, might as well milk it while people let em, guess i'll just wait for the eventual sale, next year.  still haven't finished any of the other AB's, no point in wasting money on this thing now.

    • Phoen1x1

       The eventual sale? It is already only 99 cents lol..

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/RHJYSBVU33QNWSDYDOE2TSOBRE Josh Miazga

         The ipad version is 2.99

  • http://twitter.com/tfobf  tfobf

     Hodapp this game doesn't deserve 5 stars. The moment TA starts selling out to give high scores is the moment some other site is going to eat your lunch with honest reviews.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Sorry, do you want me to lie to you and tell you that I didn't love this game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000144975002 Rafael Palma

    This is when i use IAP cracker....

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/73OMU2TYY25CWR7QZX6BSAY7K4 CrystalBoy

    Eli Hodapp you most be getting a bonus for giving this game 5 stars or it's base on users votes? although that only reflects how great the game is for you, but for me I wouldn't go 5 stars after messing up with this angry birds space using IAP and not making it Universally compatible with IOS devices. I really found your review bias nevertheless...  

    • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

      I'm guessing every other iOS site that reviewed the game also got paid off? You might want to do a little research (aka typing a total of 25 words into Google). It's gotten a comparably high score from every major review site so far.

      @back2this:twitter

    • foxyshadis

      Repeat after me: "I am not the universal arbiter of taste." Follow
      reviewers who tend to like what you like. Don't follow reviewers who
      like what you don't and don't like what you do. How hard is that?

  • jclardy

    Bought the iPhone version. I would have bought the iPad version as well, but without supporting cross device syncing, no buy. Plus having to buy the same level packs on both devices...

    Seriously Rovio, you have boatloads of cash and implementing iCloud sync for scores/unlocks would not have been difficult and after launch would not cost you a dime. Other than possible support issues I guess, but you can just leave it off by default. Must be because the Galaxy Note is their "showcase" device now.

  • Homer423

    Rovio is too greedy with this series.

    This game should be an universal app, and they try too hard to get people to buy their in all purchases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1133650369 Farhat Jiwa

    crashes on my ipod touch 4g alot

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RHJYSBVU33QNWSDYDOE2TSOBRE Josh Miazga

    First of..there is an ipad and a iphone version of this angry birds game not universal so they expect you to buy the game twice if you have an iphone/ipod and a ipad..greedy,Second instead of buying the eagle one time and using it forever they expect you to buy them separately and there not even good they destroy hardly anything ..once again greedy,third they expect you to buy more levels??i paid 2.99 for this im not spending 99 cents for more levels to play..greedy again and for my last complaint this game is ridiculously easy beat the first 2 planets in under an hour.Worst angry birds game ever.Thanks rovio for being greedy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Mayer/709955662 Bob Mayer

    I don't have any issues with 99 cent level packs. I think it's a great idea on Rovio's part. Too bad they didn't go that route originally because that's the real problem. They've already established the expectation of free content..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QHRAJDA32XHLX4C2OGV22VWIK4 Randall Hanson

    You can move scores between iPhone and iPad HD manually using an app like Phone View on the Mac. Works fine with the regular angry birds. Not auto syncing, but at least you CAN transfer achievements to another device.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hsu-Chien-Ooi-Andrew/555549692 Hsu Chien Ooi Andrew

    Has anyone installed this game on the first generation iPad running iOS5.1? Saw some comments on the app store saying it wouldn't run. Anyone experienced this?

  • http://www.servidorgratuito.com/ Daniela - SEO Pagerank Checker

    There are lot of websites where you can embed their games to your website, for example http://www.freegamesonline.eu.com This way you can safe your bandwidth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackie.hale2 Jackie Brown Hale

    well i would  play on my ipad

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackie.hale2 Jackie Brown Hale

    hi i want pizza

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackie.hale2 Jackie Brown Hale

    aaangry birds ison the yuouyfc lollollolololl iiiiiiimmmmmmm   crazzzzyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackie.hale2 Jackie Brown Hale

    your right im stupid

Angry Birds Space Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 5