The History of Angry Birds

By Dale Bashir on Oct 6, 2017

One of the biggest things to come out of Finland, Rovio's Angry Birds have been churning out games since 2009 and has more installments than there are mainline Final Fantasies. Inspired by flash games like Crush the Castle, this physics-based puzzle game has been a massive hit, appearing on all sorts of platforms from the PSP, PS3, Wii and Wii U, to every IOS and Android device out there. You could even play the game on Facebook if you wanted to. With almost a decade of being in the gaming scene, let's check out the history behind it all:

1.The First Angry Birds Trilogy (2009-2012)

Starting things off was the first game in the series, Angry Birds and its 2 follow-ups, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio. This was the one that started it all, across the multitude of platforms and phones that this game could be played on, it has been downloaded for an estimated total of 2 billion times. The game laid the foundations of the series, just grab a bird, pull the slingshot and go, destroying blocks and pigs along the way. The simple premise of pigs stealing the birds' eggs is familiar, kind of like the premise to Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros, it set the stage for many games to come.

Angry Birds Seasons was basically a level-pack featuring the same game with added levels based on different seasons and festive holidays, while Angry Birds Rio was a crossover with 20th Century Fox's animated movie of the same name, it featured Rio as a setting and added a few characters from the movie as playable birds. All three games were compiled into the Angry Birds Trilogy, released for every seventh generation console.

2. Space-faring Birds (2012-2013)

The next batch of games added a new mechanic to the game, gravity, where the developers took a page from Super Mario Galaxy and added levels set in space and planetoids for Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars I & II. The game also added augmentations to the classic birds' with new abilities gitting with the space setting, with some birds having ice powers or have the ability to change trajectory mid-flight. It was an exciting development and certainly took the established formula to new heights.

Angry Birds Star Wars on the hand was a major crossover compared to the previous Rio crossover. The game took the familiar setting and story of Star Wars and put a whole fresh coat of Angry Birds paint on it, complete with the Birds portraying the Rebel side of the conflict, while the Pigs played the role of the Empire. Some Birds were equipped with lightsabers and Force powers, while others had blasters and the like. The sequel came a year later and took place in the prequel trilogy, with most of the setting taking place during the height of the Clone Wars.

3. Experimental years (2013-2015)

After 4 years of the same old bird-slinging action, Rovio opened their avenues into trying out new genres for the birds to dip their round bodies into. The first of these spin-offs was Angry Birds Go!, a racing game that was basically Mario Kart lite. Though unlike Mario Kart, there are no laps in a race and only consists of a downhill kart race with power0ups strewn between the track for you and your opponents to grab and attack each other with. This was also the first game to be in 3D, a step up from the usual sprites.

The next experimental game came out of left field, an Angry Birds turn-based RPG was released known as Angry Birds Epic. Players took three birds in battle, all being with their own job classes and spells and skills at their disposal, and traverse a fantasy take of the usual Angry Birds world. This one is surprisingly deep and was a great little RPG to have on the go, with every bird having a lot of upgrades and tons of sidequests too. Personally, my favorite out of the bunch.

And then, coming out of even more left field, was a crossover no one expected. Angry Birds Transformers, had the birds and pigs transformed into Autobirds and Deceptihogs, bringing to life the tagline of the game: "Birds Disguised As Robots In Disguise". If you ever wanted an Angry Bird headed Optimus Prime reenacting his climactic battle from the original Transformers the Movie with a green pig-headed Megatron, then this is the game for you. Surprisingly, the gameplay was okay, it was a run-and-gun auto-scroller, with the birds shooting down the evil Deceptihogs and transforming into vehicle mode to speed up and avoid obstacles. Definitely one of the weirder crossovers the Transformers franchise has had.

The last game in this era was Angry Birds Fight! Compared to the previous entries, this title did little to shake up the franchise as it was just basically Puzzle & Dragons with Angry Birds characters. From racing, to RPG, to Run-and-Gun, a match three style game was a step back to what could've been. The next step should have been a 3D platformer, but instead, they went for a return to form in the next era of Angry Birds games.

4. A True Sequel Appears (2015)

Angry Birds 2, the prodigal sequel released in 2015, took the series back to the form established by the first game back in 2009. The biggest change that came with the game was the ability to change birds on the fly instead of using a preset party of birds, between rounds players can choose which birds they want to use for the job, providing a tactical advantage by getting high scores compared to the other games in the series. The game reached 10 million downloads after just three days of being released and reached 200 million downloads after a week. Despite that, the sequel also installed more modern mobile game practices, like waiting 30 minutes to be able to get a chance at retrying a level or watching ads to do the same thing, robbing the game of the arcade quality the original had.  

5. The Angry Birds Movie And Beyond (2016 and beyond)

In 2016, Rovio made a big step and released The Angry Birds Movie, changing the status quo of the Angry Birds franchise forever. With the new movie came a new way the Angry Birds looked, they had limbs now and celebrities voiced them. It was a drastic change and it came to the games as well. The first out of these movie tie-ins was Angry Birds Action, a 3D top-down take on the Angry Birds formula, instead of flinging the birds towards flimsy structures made by the pigs, it was more akin to pinball, with each bird ricocheting around the board and destroying everything in their path. A stark departure from what was established before.

The next game was more of the same, only this time with an RPG twist, collecting new birds and evolving them. Angry Birds Evolution is almost unrecognizable for people who only know the franchise from the first game. Gone are the days of slinging birds to progress to the next level, now its just pinball birds with PNG character collecting. The next game coming out soon is Angry Birds Match, which is another match 3 game for mobile phones.

Overall, the Angry Birds franchise has gone through massive success and seems to be losing its steam. Some say the movie came a little too late from the initial hype of the original game and is now just a stunted franchise. A sequel is announced for the movie, coming out in 2019 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the franchise. Who knows what else could come out from the franchise, maybe someday we'll have a true Angry Birds 3, but for now, it's just movie tie-ins and match three games.


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Dale Bashir
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I just wanna play video games.
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