Angry Birds Space arrived on iOS and Android last week, introducing a whole new array of physics to the classic slingshot game. It's already a runaway hit, having garnered 10 million downloads since launch. Now instead of just trying to topple boring old buildings onto pigs lounging inside and around the area, you're flinging birds through gravitational fields around planets, and into asteroids to annihilate the green time-honored foes.
As in previous Angry Birds titles, you're given a set number of birds with various properties (be it exploding, splitting into three, dive-bombing, or otherwise), that you need to fire from a slingshot at the right velocity and angle in order to take out the little piggies that litter the level. You're scored based on how few birds you use and how much destruction you cause in the process. Levels are split up into a variety of different themed worlds, and new types of birds are revealed to you as you progress.
For those particularly tough levels, Angry Birds Space lets you buy Space Eagles, which create a black hole that destroys pretty much everything on the screen. I'm not a huge fan of the "pay-to-win" scheme, but at least you're awarded them over the course of standard gameplay, too. There's full Game Center Support to keep tabs on your high scores and achievements. Unfortunately, it's not a universal app, so you'll have to pay separately for the "HD" version if you want to play on your iPad. If that wasn't enough nickel-and-diming, you only get a single sample level from the third world, called the Danger Zone, before needing to cough up another buck for 30 levels. You can't even pause the game without ads for the other Angry Birds games.
As far as graphics and sound go, there's still a lot of the old-school charm there, with a few twists for the new space theme. I find the sound effects can get painfully repetitive on those hard levels that you restart time and again, so I leave the game muted the vast majority of the time. I'll be honest - I never really got into Angry Birds before this. I played the free version when it came out, but after an hour or two of playing, it just all felt a little too casual. Angry Birds Space really changed that for me though; dealing with weird gravitational situations is something I've enjoyed in the Super Mario Galaxy titles on the Nintendo Wii, and it's great to have that same appeal available on mobile.
Playtime on a per-level basis can vary wildly - some stages you'll get three stars on with the first attempt, others you'll chew on painfully for a half hour. For the most part, Angry Birds Space delivers the same bite-sized fun that you're used to, but be prepared for at least a few knock-down, drag-out stages, especially if you're a perfectionist gunning for three stars on every level.
Even hardened Angry Birds fans will find the new physics to be a welcome change of pace, and offer a whole new set of challenges to overcome. The same classic gameplay remains with some fresh space-age flavor, but be prepared to deal with cues to cough up more cash at several turns.