Tiny Wings is back with a big update. Now there's local multiplayer in the HD version for the iPad, and a new racing mode called Flight School, which pits you against rival hungry birds. There are 15 hand-crafted stages, all Retina-optimized. There's cloud sync, so you can keep your progress saved across iPhone and iPad. Best of all, the update is free for previous owners of the iPhone version, and Tiny Wings HD is a steal for just $2.99.
The intuitive one-touch controls remain intact in Tiny Wings 2.0 - simply tap the screen to speed towards the earth, and catch the slope just right so you can slingshot over the opposing crest with even more velocity. Flight School is a new chapter which puts a fresh spin on things. Instead of trying to get as far as possible before nightfall, a bunch of inept little birds are racing to their mama for the best fish - the last one gets a distasteful prawn. As players earn higher scores, they're awarded fancier nests and unlock new islands to explore. There are new terrain elements to make things a little more interesting: bodies of water can quickly slow momentum, while inexplicably bouncy sunflowers can send birds skyward.
This racing mechanic is further extended to local multiplayer on the iPad. The screen is split in half in portrait orientation, and opponents are either attempting to be first to 10,000 points or get the highest score out of five islands. The one to nest first gets bonus points depending on how long it takes for the other to catch up, but leaders can also take automatic handycaps in furhter stages to give the losers a bit of a head start. It's a great balance mechanism and helps keep gameplay light and friendly. You can pick any of the available birds to use in multiplayer, and can assign custom names to them in Flight School.
Despite the simplicity in the game mechanic, it can be quite hard to master, and now with multiplayer available on the iPad, skills can be truly put to the test. Although earning nests and and unlocking new levels is nice, it would be good to have some added sense of progression - maybe custom colors for birds, new birds to unlock, new backgrounds, hidden islands... There are all sorts of rewards that would be great to include fo playing the game, and they wouldn't have to necessarily come with the usual in-app purchase tagged on. Game Center is supported for leaderboards and achievements, but unfortunately there's no online multiplayer - yet.
Graphics and sound
Tiny Wings 2.0 hosts a few new soundtracks to liven things up, and the new birds all have their own distinctive voices. The art style retains the same colorful, slightly washed-out watercolor, and the menus are seamless from the proper gameplay. You can actually download the original version's soundtrack and a great wallpaper over at the Tiny Wings site. It's unclear if the HD version is fully optimized for the new iPad's Retina display, but generally if a dev doesn't say it is, it usually isn't.
- Gorgeous, unique art style
- Light, whimsical soundtrack
- No online multiplayer
- Few unlockables
It is really, really hard to find anything bad to say about this game. The art style is as refreshing as ever, the music is still great, and the new gameplay modes add significant depth to the already excellent gameplay. Even the pricing is humane, as the developer released all of these new features without charging extra. The biggest thing that continues to surprise me about Tiny Wings is that even with its largely kid-friendly angle, it somehow strikes a goofy charm that appeals to all ages. If you haven't already bought Tiny Wings, get it now, and if you've already bought it, get the HD version - quality titles like this are few and far between, and deserve every bit of support.