Tag Archives: angry birds

The Silent Console

Image by Flickr User: TheStouffer
Image by Flickr User: TheStouffer

Lurking on the bedside table in my apartment, a devious piece of technology lies in wait.  At first glance, it seems like nothing more than a simple tablet; something to provide convenient internet cruising from any location.  But don’t let its harmless exterior fool you.  This electronic notebook hides a darker side, filled with hours of engaging and addictive video gaming.

When my wife and I first received an iPad, we assumed it would be mostly used for surfing the internet and reading electronic books/magazines.  After a while, she started to load art applications onto the tablet, allowing her to create some fine digital sketches.  The iPad became her new toy to play with, which was just fine by me.  After all, I had my 3DS and piles of great games to play.  My mobile gaming niche was pleasantly filled.

It was roughly two months into our ownership of the iPad that we started to download some games.  My wife installed Angry Birds (a carry-over from her phone) while I added a puzzle game I had read about called Spell Tower.  This is how our madness began.  It seemed like every spare moment was spent tossing birds or making words, destroying pig buildings and leveling towers of letter blocks.  Soon after, more games snuck onto our iPad.  Jetpack Joyride became a sort of challenge game, each of us trying to outlast the other and make a longer run through the cartoon laboratory.  Jack Lumber was a hilarious swipe and slash game that my wife discovered while we attended PAXEast, and so the vengeful logger leapt onto the small screen.  So many short and sweet games came to inhabit our happy tablet, and we were glad to have some little distractions to pass the time.  Then we caught Machinarium on a sale, opening up a new world of gaming possibilities.

Machinarium was not just some cutesy mobile game to be played in short turns.  It was a full-fledged adventure title, harkening back to the glory days of point-and-click PC gaming.  We spent hours exploring the dystopian world of robots and scrap metal, trying to help our mechanical friend Josef in his journey.  Sword and Sworcery followed next, which started to explore just what sort of features can be unique to a tablet game.  The touch screen provided interesting gameplay mechanics, while the high-resolution screen allowed for gorgeous visuals.  The transition was complete: the iPad had become a full-fledged gaming device and we hadn’t even noticed the change.

As someone who grew up playing video game consoles, it seems so odd that a device that was originally thought of as nothing more than a portable internet source has become such a gaming staple in my life.  Two of the best games I played last year were mobile exclusives (Year Walk and Device 6), and it looks like this year will have even more iPad games for me to enjoy.  So as you start to make your list of pros and cons for which killer next-gen console to purchase, be sure not to overlook the tablet market.  There are years of amazing games in their back catalog, which is more than either the PS4 or Xbox One have to offer.

-Chip, Games I Made My Girlfriend Play

Angry Birds, Museum-Bound

Image by Flickr user chooyutshing
Image by Flickr user chooyutshing

I almost can’t believe my eyes as I sit here looking at a press release titled:

Rovio Announces “Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science of a Global Phenomenon” Traveling Exhibit 

Angry Birds…in a museum? My mind reels. First off, wow! Second off, thank goodness for United We Game, because how can I NOT write about this?

You can check out the full press release here, but yes, it’s true. Sometime in 2014 a traveling Angry Birds exhibit will be headed out to select American museums and science centers. The announcement came direct from Rovio at this week’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ annual meeting. Rovio summed up the venture as follows:

Continue reading Angry Birds, Museum-Bound

Today in Gaming History: 11/8/13


November 8, 2012: Angry Birds gets the Star Wars treatment 
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Angry Birds Star Wars, which was first launched on Windows, iOS, and Android.  Angry Birds Star Wars is the second crossover game for the franchise, the first being Angry Birds Rio, which is based on the Fox animated film Rio.

Continue reading Today in Gaming History: 11/8/13

Everyone Plays Video Games

Screenshot by Flickr User: faseextra
Screenshot by Flickr User: faseextra

A strange thing has been happening around my workplace: people are playing video games during their free time. Not just the usual two or three of us who bring our DS to work, but everyone seems to be hunched over their phones and computer screens, clicking or swiping away at little stacks of sweets. That’s right folks, Candy Crush fever is at full pandemic levels in our building, and there is no cure in sight (save for upset bosses).

For those who are unfamiliar with Candy Crush Saga (CCS), allow me to brief you on the game. Available as a mobile or Facebook game, CCS is a match-three puzzle title in which a player must clear certain pieces of candy from the screen in a set number of moves. Combos greater than three and chain-moves will provide the player with special candy, which may be used to clear the board more easily, and failing to destroy the target pieces will result in a game over, and the loss of a coin. This is where the game becomes diabolical.

In a given day, each player is given X coins which translate as chances to complete a level. Once the coins are expended, the only way to gain more chances is through the spending of actual money. Like so many free-to-play games before it, Candy Crush makes its money through the unfortunate souls who spend their hard-earned income to buy more coins, and, in essence, pay to keep playing the game.

This is exactly the sort of scheme that many of us “real gamers” will proudly (and loudly) defame, citing that these so-called-games ruin the medium as a whole. With even one listener, we will ramble about a dystopian future where all video games are money traps. All of these casual games are passing fads that have overstayed their welcome, and we scoff at those who play Angry Birds or Words with Friends when they are waiting in line at an overpriced coffee shop. Don’t these people know that the games that are actually fun and worthwhile only exist on consoles and computers?

At an earlier time, I would have taken up the torch right alongside my brethren and blindly marched on these lost souls, ready to push my gaming preferences on each of them. Then it dawned on me: I am living in a time where nearly everyone plays video games. The advent of mobile games and the emphasis on a casual market have brought so many people into the fold, and that effect continues to this day. I have overheard complete strangers telling stories of playing with their relatives over the iPhone. I have watched kids roam around in Minecraft on a tablet at the airport. I witnessed my own mother, who never touched a controller in her life, toss a virtual bowling ball down the lane, score a strike, and trash talk my brother in the process.

When this realization first hit me, I felt pure revulsion. Here was my hobby, being pulled right out from under me by people who didn’t even seem to care about video games. I spent so much of my life being picked on and looked over for being an “inside kid” who played too many video games to have a proper social life. Suddenly, every department store was selling cheap retro gaming t-shirts and belt buckles, fake geeks were coming out of the woodwork, and crappy mobile games were making millions of dollars. But I would not be fooled, no sir. I had the good sense to know real games from these shoddy facsimiles, so I would stay my snobby course and scoff at these fools who were trying to play pretend at my hobby.

Once I had calmed down (it took a while, mind you) and actually tried out some of these games on my wife’s phone, I came to a harsh conclusion. In spite of all the commercialization and monetization at work in so many of these games, there is fun to be had in their play. Angry Birds is so reminiscent of the simple games of my youth, and Candy Crush Saga (at its core) is a competent match-three puzzle game for the masses. There are several other examples of fun “casual” games, and these sorts of titles exist right alongside what I consider more mainstream examples of video games.

So instead of perpetuating the “casual versus hardcore” games argument, why don’t we take joy in the multitudes who are playing video games all around the world? Candy Crush Saga may not be the game for all of us, but it can be a great first step into the deep well that is puzzle gaming, or just the means to have an actual conversation with an otherwise unknown co-worker. After all, everyone likes Tetris and Mario, right? Just go from there and share your hobby with the world.

-Chip, Games I Made My Girlfriend Play