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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Attack of the Angry Birds!

Have you ever seen the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds”?

The film, which was released in 1963, depicted a situation where killer birds swarmed over a seaside town in California.  The birds attacked children, adults...nobody was immune.  I’ll readily admit that the movie made me fear birds for about a month afterwards, and I even talked about the movie for a spell back in October when I wrote about Alfred Hitchcock.  You can read that blog entry if you click HERE, but only if you want to.

At any rate, it’s never quite explained what exactly happened to the birds in the film to make them go absolutely insane with murderous intent, but whatever it was, it must have made them mad enough to leave bite marks and scratches all over Tippi Hedren’s face.

In short, they were some mighty angry birds.

You know, come to think of it, today’s blog entry also focuses on angry birds as well.  Only, in this case, these birds are more fun than frightening.

Of course, I’m talking about the app that made smart phones buzz with anticipation, and is played by millions of people both online and through their 4G networks.

This blog entry is all about “Angry Birds”.

You might have noticed that I have blown up the font a little bit larger than normal.  This is intentional.  For one, the game itself has only been around for two and a half years, so there’s very little information to dig up in regards to the game.  And, for another, I’m sure that most of you out there would rather PLAY Angry Birds instead of reading about it.  So, I’ll make this entry short with the promise that if you read it in full, you can find a link to the online version as a reward.

(Or, you could simply scroll down to the bottom.  Either way, it’s incentive, right?)

So, how did Angry Birds begin?

In 2009, a Finnish mobile video game company, Rovio Mobile, began to brainstorm ideas for a new video game to be downloaded onto mobile phones.  Staff began reviewing various game proposals, and eventually came across a character design sketched by senior game designer Jaakko Iisalo.  The design showed a cluster of angry looking birds that had no visible legs or wings.

It was a simple design, but the development team seemed to like the sketches very much.  At the time though, they weren’t exactly sure what sort of game they were going to do, but they knew that they had to incorporate the bird design at some point.

As the game was developed, programmers and developers were puzzled on what kind of antagonist the birds would have.  They knew that they had to have some enemy, but weren’t sure of what to do.

But then the “swine flu” epidemic of 2009 was plastered all over the news, and soon after, the development team had their answer.


More specifically, pigs in a brilliant shade of green, in various sizes.  The pigs were sketched out, and became the main enemy of the little red birds.

Now things were moving along.  Soon after, the concept of the game was created.  Taking inspiration from physics-based games such as “Crush the Castle”, the team went to work on designing the game levels for the game.

I suppose this is a good enough time as any to describe how the game is played.

You start each level with a small group of birds.  As is the case with every level, these birds are very, very, angry.  Most of the birds are red in colour, but there are variations as well.  Yellow birds, for instance, increases its speed the longer it flies.  Blue birds can split off into three smaller birds.  Black birds will explode on contact with whatever it hits, and white birds can drop explosive eggs onto the ground.

Now, in each level, you have a slingshot that you can use to shoot the birds at whatever angle you wish.  The object of the game is much like the classic storybook “The Three Little Pigs”, only without all that huffing and puffing.  You have to knock down the structures (which can be made of wood, ice blocks, or stones and boulders).  In the process, you want to turn our pigs into bacon, ham, and sausage by making their own buildings cave in on top of them.  If you succeed in killing every pig before you run out of birds, the level is completed, and you move onto the next round.

The game was officially released on December 11, 2009, and almost immediately became a huge success all over the world.  Praised for its addictive nature, comedic gameplay, and a relatively low cost as compared to other popular mobile games, the game quickly became one of the most downloaded mobile app of 2010.

Here’re some more facts for you about the game.  Did you know that between mobile phones and online, the game has been downloaded over one billion times?  That’s a lot of people playing Angry Birds, isn’t it?

Angry Birds has also spawned a multimillion dollar merchandising empire on top of the game downloads.  You can buy Angry Birds T-shirts, pajama pants, board games, and stuffed animals of all your favourite Angry Birds characters.  Believe me, my fifteen year old niece is obsessed with Angry Birds to the point where a quarter of her wardrobe is filled with sweaters with bright red flying birds stitched front and center on them.

The original game became so successful that four spin-off games were created between 2010 and 2012, including “Angry Birds Rio”, and “Angry Birds Space”. 

Believe it or not, there are even plans in the works to create an animated series, or a movie based on the Angry Birds franchise.  Not sure how exactly that will work out, but considering that a movie based on the board game “Battleship” is set to be released on May 18, I suppose anything is possible.

It seems hard to believe that a video game about angry birds would have even a spot in the competitive least it did back in the days before it was created.  But while the birds in the game were angry, the developers of the game couldn’t be.  After all, those angry birds netted them a huge fortune!

Now, as promised, I have included a couple of links to the Angry Birds online game.  If you happen to use the Google Chrome browser (which is the browser that this blogger currently uses about 95% of the time), you can click on this link to play the Angry Birds online game.

I haven’t tested this link on other browsers, so I don’t know if it works.  But, if it doesn’t you can use this one as well.  It’ll take you to the Rio version.

Happy playing!  J

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