By Harold Goldberg
There was a period that spanned years when Angry Birds was such a wild phenomenon. It was everywhere. Writing a Boys’ Life game column for kids as I did for 10 years, it seemed there were as many letters and emails sent to me about the feisty birds as there were about Pokemon, Skylanders or Mario games. I felt that when the 2016 movie received poor reviews of under 50 percent on average, that was it. My interest had waned.
But the series just keeps on going. In fact, it’s making a comeback, not just with VR. There’ll be AR in a month or so (and another movie this August). Somewhat reticent, I checked out the forthcoming augmented reality version called Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs for iOS on an Apple iPhone XS Max.
It works, and it works well. Yes, I stumbled with the shooting mechanic for about a minute – after all, it’s been a while. But maybe it worked because of Spring is here and I need to commune with birds, however pissed off or grouchy they may be. Or maybe it was the fact that these birds felt like they were really ready to play. And I like nature, however cartoon-y. (No, I’m not eating crunchy granola as I write this.)
Tossing the winged things forward into grand but flimsy structures as I look for the sweet spot that will bring it all down was indeed familiar. But with three dimensions rather than two, I found myself moving around and around the structure, kind of like a turkey vulture stalks road kill from above before landing.
It was a trip with neat details. Here, a bird waiting for another to hit might wave at you from the ground in a kind of coaxing “It’s OK. It’s cool, strike forth” kind of way. The game, a freemium app, is available for pre-order now and I’ll play when it’s fully out. I’m not sure about checking out the movie, though. Then again, the cast does include Leslie Jones, Rachel Bloom and Awkwafina. Hmmmm.
Author/journalist Harold Goldberg is the founder of the New York Videogame Critics Circle and the New York Game Awards.