First, there are the dangers of taking a franchise that appears to be tied to a single genre (2D physics-based aiming and shooting) and attempting to enter a genre dominated by Mario Kart games, as well as the memory of countless character-based angry birds racing car games that failed to match up.
Second, there are even greater dangers in making Angry Birds an utterly free-to-play game that makes money via in-app sales and advertisements rather than paid downloads.
Rovio has an issue with free-to-play, partially because of its generous approach to updates for previous Angry Birds games (if you paid 59p for the original game in 2011, you were still getting new levels in 2013), and partly because of the enormous number of children who play the Angry Birds games.
If Angry Birds Go’s in-app purchase prodding is too aggressive on either front, it will cause a significant backlash. The game is available today for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10, making it one of the first games to be released on all four platforms on the same day. So how did Rovio fare? On all counts, you did rather well.
I’ve enjoyed several versions of Mario Kart, and I’ve scoffed at competitors who duplicated its fundamental elements while overlooking the nuances that made Nintendo’s franchise so famous. I went into Angry Birds Go! Expecting to be disappointed, but I quickly discovered that it’s a fantastic game.
Power Ups Concept
It’s fair to say that the power-ups concept is more straightforward than Mario Kart, with each character having a single, unique power-up that can be used a fixed amount of times throughout races rather than picking up different ones on the track. There’s also a greater emphasis on jumps, which is somewhat unsurprising given Angry Birds’ origins.
With a choice of touch or tilt, the handling is excellent. Tilt is more fun in this game than in most touchscreen driving games, but touch is better for controlling your vehicle. It’s a lot of fun to see the various karts turn, soar through the air, and crash into one another.
The characters have no legs or hands, so who knows how they steer – and the way races start with you pulling back the car in a sling and letting go at the right moment are all Angry Birds touches. The power-ups for the various birds are conventional for the genre: a mix of weapons and speed-ups.
Speedway and Rocky Road, the game’s two introductory courses, each provide five different race kinds. The race is a straight race with multiple birds; Time Boom is a solo struggle to reach the finish line before a fuse blows; Versus is a one-on-one race, and Fruit Splat is a (perhaps Fruit Ninja-inspired) game in which you must drive through a certain number of fruits on your route to the finish line.
The angry birds racing car games may then be scanned into the game by placing them on their transparent stands and placing them over your device’s camera. It’s an alternative to in-app purchases, which is excellent for collectors and parents who would prefer to buy physical karts than give their children access to their iTunes accounts.