Angry Birds Space is something special – out of this world, in fact. It was the first game whose launch was announced from the International Space Station by astronaut Don Pettit. This was no mere publicity stunt – Pettit’s intention was to demonstrate the physics of motion in a zero-gravity environment, using elastic bands to propel model birds around the cabin of the ISS.
The Angry Birds franchise started out as a clever game download in Finland, involving the collection of different eggs, opposed by an army of pigs. The game built a huge following in that mobile-friendly nation due to its ease of use and compulsive action. Accordingly, its popularity was far more influenced by word of mouth and user feedback, rather than any marketing campaign. The game is no longer confined to the known world – a giant claw has kidnapped the birds’ eggs, and the Angry Birds pursue it into a wormhole, emerging into a galaxy dominated by goldfish-bowl-helmeted space pigs – and, adapting to the strange new surroundings, pursue their lost eggs. 60 levels and countless add-on extra apps mean that the potential challenge of the game is almost limitless for players.
Unlike previous versions, Angry Birds Space uses a number of different planets with differing gravitational fields, which users must learn to cope with in order to manoeuvre the birds into the right position. Pettit’s lesson in momentum was designed to introduce players to this great new concept in gaming. Launched on iOS, Android, PC and Mac, downloads since launch in March 2012 are now in excess of 12 million and counting. The objective is to collapse structures on top of the pigs and retrieve the eggs, and the format is designed to be mobile-friendly, so playing with the fine tolerances offered by touchscreens and tiny keyboards is no problem.
Apart from its addictive qualities, the game has been viewed as a religious parable – a philosophical exercise in eliminating stress and bad Karma (represented by the pigs) and soaring aloft on wings of unfettered ambition. Future developments for the Angry Birds franchise include a TV series, an adventure theme park in the game’s native Finland, and a feature film. For now, the basic game cost ranges from free to relatively inexpensive, depending on the device, and five mini-games (known as “Eggsteroids”) that echo old-school games such as Super Mario Bros. With colourful graphics and improvements due to the Facebook version of the game, the march of the Angry Birds seems set to continue.