The App Store is an incredible place. Only the other day I was playing Gameloft’s complicated strategy game Starfront: Collision and today I’m tasked with comparing it to a game that requires a single finger press to drop a bird out of the sky.
But while Tiny Wings instructions are deceptively simple, the game has a far greater depth that you’ll only come to understand and adore once you’ve started to revisit the gentle sloping hills that make up the scenery.
The idea is this; you have a plump bird that can only flap its wings a certain amount and, due to its weight, will start to fall after a short time. Taping on the screen (or holding) will close the bird’s wings and let gravity take full control. If you fall at the right time and hit and downward slope on one of the many hills below, you will then speed up, letting the opposing upward slope launch you in to the air to begin frantically flapping again.
Darkness and night are your only enemies and the sun can only stay for so long. You speed will allow you to outrun the oncoming night for only so long and eventually darkness falls and the game ends. The trick is to get to the next island faster than the night can get to you.
To help you along, small blue orbs will speed you up. Getting to these is usually the tricky part as you often don’t see them until the last minute. Whether you risk diving too early in order to get a speed boost and lose time on a hill is all part of the strategy. Small yellow orbs will give you extra points and collecting a certain amount helps to complete objectives.
Tiny Wings is one of those games that screams cute. The changing scenery of each island (with the Yellow Submarine-alike rainbow island on level 4 being my current favourite) and the way the bird fights gravity are brilliantly achieved in such a minimalistic looking game. Sound effects from the birds and the ever-cheerful background tune enhance this already beautiful little game.
Openfeint leaderboards ensure a challenge is kept while you fly a further distance and encounter yet more islands of beauty. Game Centre would, of course, be a nice touch. The achievements also enable you to build a bigger score multiplyer (maxing out at x28) and some of them are pretty tough to beat, like hitting the clouds 10 times over the course of one game.
Though the simple nature of the game works well and demands some level of skill to further progress, it would be good to see a different mode or two that added something new. I’m sure it’s already on the cards given how fast the game has climbed the App Store charts.
As it currently stands, Tiny Wings is a clever and original game with a brilliantly cute character and hidden depth. Well worth picking up to brighten up your day.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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