Tiny Wings Reader Review
At the time of purchase this was sitting pretty atop the app chart in the app store so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The game involves getting your bird as far as possible from the starting point in one day. Darkness is always stalking our little friend and as soon as it catches up with him he falls asleep for the day and that signals game over.
The game only has one input - you touch the screen to fold your wings and dive. Removing your finger or thumb from the screen opens his wings and allows him to take off, if he has enough momentum, or will slow him down if it is poorly timed.
The environment that you traverse is a dressed up oscillating wave with varying peaks and troughs. The game involves timing your dives so that you gain momentum down the slopes then take off at the peaks. With careful timing you can increase both your speed and the height of your jumps to traverse huge swathes of scenery at a time. If you manage to bump into the cloud ceiling you are rewarded with bonus points but the collision tends to interrupt the flow of your flight and makes timing the landing significantly more difficult.
Each perfect slide is rewarded with a cute little chirrup from your feathered friend. Achieve three perfect slides in a row and fever mode is activated. This is a score multiplier and sustained mastery of this feature is essential to achieve high scores.
The end of each island is heralded by a long downslope where you can build up enough speed to perform an enormous jump to the next island. This is noted by the bird with a joyous ‘wahoo’ which could make even the most miserable git on Earth smile.
The core mechanic is satisfying enough but what elevates the game above its peers and to the top of the app store is the depth and sense of progression and reward that the designers have incorporated into the game.
You don’t notice them at first as you just seem to be achieving the early targets automatically by playing the game. Basically, completing certain tasks allows you to upgrade your ‘nest.’ This confers a higher score multiplier and allows you to smash your previous high scores with ease, which is very rewarding. The allocated tasks are very cleverly thought out and demonstrate the varying different ways that the game can be played. My particular favourite was to get to island 4 with no perfect jumps. This involved a perpetual skimming of the line and was perfectly timed to ensure a very exciting end to the race.
The game is supplemented with online leaderboards via the ‘openfeint’ system which allows you to compare scores and compete with your friends, if you have enabled and populated it. Initially you may goggle at their scores thinking “how can I get anywhere near that?” The key is simply upgrading your nest as much as you can.
The final nest is extremely challenging but gives a great sense of accomplishment once achieved.
The game is not entirely perfect though. I found that the game had a tendency to 'stutter' on occasion. This tended to happen most often just after starting it up. In a game that relies so heavily on timing and visual feedback this was quite a frustrating fault. I thought it might have been nice to include a chilled out 'no fail' mode where you could just enjoy going really fast and making large easy jumps.
This is probably the most addictive game I have encountered on the iphone. There have been times over the last few weeks where I have had blocks of time with which to play on AAA console or PC releases and have instead started playing this. Two hours later I was still there - tantalisingly close to the next objective or high score. I think I am done now though. I am happy with my score. This bird has flown.