Editorials

Review: Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs

It’s a bit hard to believe that Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds franchise has been alive and thriving for 10 years. Angry Birds first appeared in 2009 and went on to breed 23 follow up games.

Rovio Entertainment has iterated on the franchise time and time again. It only seems fitting that for the 10 year anniversary, a new title would release. Rovio came out with a spin on the series. In comes Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs acts as a reconceptualized take on Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, which released on Oculus Rift and Vive earlier this year. It has been was developed for iOS devices and utilizes the power of the AR on iOS. The game takes the tried-and-true gameplay model the series is known for and places the action in our environment. I had spent time with the Rovio’s Creative Director, Sami Ronkainen and got my hands on a pre-release version of the game last month. Returning a month later, the game feels polished and complete. It is a well-rounded and fun experience.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs pulls away from the side-view and puts you at the helm of the slingshot. Each level you are given three multi-coloured birds to shoot. Before you even begin, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs instructs you to build out the level and play area. The process is very intuitive and required you to only scan a flat area. Whether that be a desk, floor, or otherwise, all you need is a surface with moderate lighting. Once you click confirm, you are set and it’s off to the races!

Rovio Entertainment is not reinventing the Angry Birds wheel, nor should they. Angry Birds has become a billion-dollar franchise and was a tentpole to the embryonic App Store when it launched. Instead of being played on a flat plain, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs has 360-degrees to explore in your effort to destroy the pig’s fortress. Weakness and other surprises hide out of view. The game encourages you to get out of your seat and view all the different angles before you shoot your birds.

There are over 40 different levels across four worlds to complete throughout the game. Each level rewards you with one to three stars based on efficiency. Gaining three stars nets your the maximum amount of coins possible. These coins can then be turned in to unlocked the different worlds and progress. Each level will progressively get a bit harder. The difficulty spike is manageable and I can see a younger audience taking a liking to the game.

This being an AR title, the level and characters will interact with you as you play. As the birds jump into the slingshot, they’ll look back and give you a thumbs up before send off. In addition, if you bring your phone close enough to the pigs, they’ll let you know you’re invading their personal space. The execution of it all adds some quirkiness and is a thoughtful addition to the game.

As Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs is a free-to-play mobile game, the right to question monetization or microtransaction is warranted. Thankfully, Rovio Entertainment has handled the situation very nicely. Instead of in-game purchases or pay-walls of any sort, Rovio Entertainment has sprinkled in brief ad breaks to generate cash flow for the game.

If you wanted to unlock levels more quickly, you have the option of watching a short ad after completing a level. Once finished you’ll be right back in the game and have a few extra coins to use to unlock the next world. In addition, if you fail to complete a level, the game will dole out one additional bird to use in exchange for watching an ad. Completion of a level is very easy. In fact, finding myself in a position where I needed to launch the ad and gain the fourth bird was mainly due to wanting to test the feature. The levels are designed to be beaten with the standard three birds, or fewer to gain three stars. The monetization method implemented is very fair and never felt nefarious in the slightest.

I spent my time playing Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs on the iPhone XS Max. However, Rovio’s latest game will work on an iPhone from the 6S and beyond. In fact, any iOS device with AR capabilities will be able to run the game. There has been no official word on if or when Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs will come to Android devices.

Overall, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs is a fun and cute take on the established Angry Birds franchise. With more than enough levels to sink your teeth into, it’s a game that I look forward to jumping into when I have a spare few minutes––all you need is a flat surface. With no barrier to entry, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs is an easy pick-up-and-play game and is a delightful addition to the breadth of games from Rovio Entertainment.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs is available now on the App Store.

[A copy of the game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]

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Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His enthusiasm and adoration of the video game industry go back to the days of SNES. Find him on Twitter and join in on the escapades.

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