It’s amazing to think about how popular Angry Birds has become, gaining 1.7 billion downloads across different devices and €152.2 million in franchise revenue during 2012. The gameplay is simple and addictive, but catapult physics games aren’t even original. In October 2008 Castle Clout was among the first free flash games to use the mechanic, and was quickly followed in April 2009 by Armor Games’ Crush the Castle. There was something special about Angry Birds that made it stand out against similar games that came before and after it. Many have cited that Angry Bird’s massive following comes from the humorous character designs, which have spawned an ocean of merchandise. The series’ lighthearted appeal has allowed Rovio to bring Angry Birds to over 68 countries and stage live events in places such as Barcelona and Kuala Lumpur. The rampant popularity has garnered seven iterations across multiple devices, including tie-ins with other properties like Star Wars and Rio. There are down sides from such success, such as blatantly offensive imitation games like Angry Prophets, which may be pulled from the Google Play Store.
Seven different games is a lot of in less than four years. Are you an Angry Birds expert that knows all of them? Don’t worry if you aren’t, as we’ll recap the franchise below.
The original Angry Birds released on iPhone in December 2009. Rovio already had many games under their belt for platforms such as Java ME and N-Gage, but most of them were never that popular. The surprise success of Angry Birds on the iPhone prompted porting to other mobile devices, as well as PC and web versions. This wasn’t without some headache, as the 2010 release on Android was plagued with fragmentation issues, making the game unplayable on nearly 30 Android phone models. Thankfully Rovio has learned from this and has taken care to make fully functional versions of Angry Birds for as many devices as possible.
Angry Birds Seasons
In October 2010 Rovio released a Halloween version of Angry Birds that included a “Trick or Treat” pack with bonus levels. This was followed by a “Seasons Greedings” update in December 2010 that added in Christmas-themed levels. Fifteen packs have been released so far with levels designed after holidays such as St Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Lunar New Year. While mostly cosmetic changes, some the level packs added new features such as water physics in the “Piglantis” pack. As with the original title, Angry Birds Seasons has appeared on a large number of platforms.
Angry Birds Rio
Rovio teamed up with 20th Century Fox to release a Rio tie-in version of Angry Birds alongside the movie’s March 2011 release. Angry Birds Rio took the setting to Rio de Janeiro and allowed players the chance to take the role of film protagonists Blu and Jewel. Basic gameplay was mostly unchanged, but the new addition of boss fights allowed players to defeat film antagonists such as Nigel and Mauro. The game has been popular across several devices, totaling over 10 million downloads to date.
Angry Birds Space
Angry Birds Space is notable for its change in gameplay. The stages were no longer flat areas filled with buildings, instead they comprised of several planets, each with its own gravitational field that changes a bird’s trajectory. The aiming system was also improved for more control over where birds landed. Like Angry Birds Rio, the game continues the use of boss fights. This time around you’ll face off against various space themed pig bosses, such as ones driving land rovers or massive pig robots.
Angry Birds Star Wars
The Angry Birds franchise had already been a huge success in 2012. For the few that still hadn’t played yet Rovio brought in incentive with the help of George Lucas. Angry Birds Star Wars released for Windows, iOS, and Android on November 2012. The game included notable Star Wars locations such as Tatooine and Hoth, as well as birds dressed as characters like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Because levels took place both planet side and in space, gameplay alternated between that found in the first Angry Birds and the new gravitation gameplay introduced in Angry Birds Space.
Bad Piggies is a spin-off that turns the pigs into the main protagonists. Gameplay is completely different than any other entry in the franchise. Instead of slingshots and destroying buildings, your goal is create contraptions to transport the pigs through a course. Several of the materials used for construction appear similar to those used by the pigs in Angry Birds, along with new objects such as bottles, motors, and explosives. Compared to the rest of the Angry Birds series, the refreshingly different gameplay makes Bad Piggies a pleasure to play.
Angry Birds Friends
Angry Birds Friends released May 2nd on iOS and Android. This latest installment from Rovio is very social, allowing players to challenge their Facebook friends to matches of Angry Birds. The Facebook version of the game already has 15 million active players, and Rovio hopes that mobile access will increase its success. The gameplay is the same as other games – launch birds from a slingshot to destroy structures filled with enemy pigs. This time around you’ll be competing for trophies, high scores, and can set up tournaments.
Still going strong
The Angry Birds series has ballooned in a short time span. The popularity goes beyond just the games. It’s easy to go into American malls and see Angry Birds stuffed animals, shirts, and other merchandise being sold. In Rovio’s native Finland, Angry Birds Toons is an ongoing animated series and a theme park attraction has recently opened. Even though Angry Birds wasn’t the first catapult siege game, it made it a household genre across the world. Parodies and clones have sprouted up, but nothing yet has been able to touch the bird empire. The franchise seems unstoppable and we look forward to what Rovio has planned for the future.