Rovio make Angry Birds games, they make a lot of them. According to their own website since 2009 they have made & released 17 variations on the core gameplay that saw the player launching birds at egg stealing pigs. Addictive & clever gameplay at the beginning, it has become stale & reliant on tie-in gimmicks such as Star Wars & Transformers.
There is no denying the popularity of the series though, especially when it went free to play. It even got a tie-in movie in 2016 (read our review here).
The latest game sees the originality once found completely disappear as it’s nothing but a match 3/outfit collector with the usual over-priced in-app purchases. To say we’ve seen these types of games before is an understatement. Beside endless runners they are the go-to games for lazy & greedy developers. Simply copy exactly what has come before but try & cover that up with your own basic ‘skin’.
Here it’s the movie version of the Angry Birds.
Does that make it a terrible game though? No. In fact, Angry Birds is just another match 3 game on the market but is also hampered by the usual issues. Greed & a lack of satisfying gameplay.
Each level requires you to complete a set number of tasks in a number of set moves. These can be collecting cakes or popsicles (done by matching them) or clearing mud, glue or eliminating pigs! Match more than 3 & you’ll earn a power-up on the form of one of the movie birds who can help you clear the level with special moves.
Completed levels give you coins (bonuses are also earned for remaining moves) & XP towards the next unlockable hatchling. These are the young ‘cute’ birds from the movie & once you’ve unlocked one they go into one of your many party rooms where you can dress them in outfits.
A few of these outfits are free but if you’re after more you’re going to have to pay. Either with the standard currency of coins or the premium currency of red gems. The former comes in fairly regular abundance through completing levels while the latter is something that is rarely gifted & costing astronomical amounts of real money to buy.
Naturally most of what you’d want to actually buy in this game costs red gems. Now to put the cost of red gems into perspective…it costs 9 to gain an extra 5 moves should you fail in a level. The nearest number of gems that you can buy? 50 for £4.99. That is a shocking amount & clearly designed to squeeze cash out of the player. The question is…why 9? Why does it cost 9 red gems to get an extra 5 moves?
Spend £4.99 & all you get is this extra 5 moves just 5 times! There are hundreds of quality, lengthy games available on mobile devices that cost a third of this amount!
These prices go up as high as £99.99 for 1400 gems & hilariously, according to the game…the best value option. If you’re mad enough to spend any amount on red gems you can use them to open premium chests. Each one costs 20 gems & the contents are random. Again, to put that into context you could pay £9.99 for 120 gems & only be able to open 6 premium chests where the random contents are only going to be pointless outfits for the hatchlings.
It’s not as if you can even do anything with these tiny birds. They just hang out in their party area being ‘cute’. There really isn’t much of an incentive to collect them as other than their names & colour they all look the same!
It’s also worth noting that a third chest is ‘coming soon’ (as of September 2017). Called the Royal Chest, it doesn’t have a price attached to it yet but it’s sure to cost even more then the premium chest!
As always the shocking cost of the in-app purchases sours what is a decent enough if un-inspired match 3/collect ‘em all game. The argument that no-one is forcing you to pay for these premium purchases falls flat as the game spikes in difficulty around level 19/20. Suddenly you’ll be losing lives & needing extra moves a lot more.
It’s the games way of saying…hey, you’ve had your free fun, now pay up. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t so disgustingly over-priced. Any free to play game has the right to try & earn money but it’s the way in which it is approached. Here it’s about getting as much money as possible while offering the most basic rewards in a game that offers nothing new or fresh in the genre.
Developers have to be called out on this despicable behaviour as they are clearly not willing to change. Add that Rovio continue to spit out Angry Birds games constantly (17 games in 8 years!?) & it couldn’t be clearer that the free to play mobile market is about one thing & one thing alone…fuck you, give us money.
Angry Birds Match