App review: Angry Birds Go!
Angry Birds go racing in a game that's somewhat reminiscent of Mario Kart
- Packed with features
- Appropriate design
- Movement controls
- Too many paid content notices
- Occasional menu crashes
Angry Birds Go! may be a different step for Rovio, but the developer has delivered well. The racing game is packed with features which will provide many hours of entertainment, and despite containing too many prompts for paid content, offers a plethora of free gameplay.
Angry Birds Go! is Rovio Entertainment’s first move away from the traditional style of its Angry Birds franchise (Bad Piggies aside). While its graphics and design are reminiscent of Mario Kart, the mobile racing game retains its Finnish developer’s points- and star-based completion system, clearly distinguishing it from the Nintendo classic.
Menus and features
Launching Angry Birds Go! will greet you with a plethora of colour. The menu structure is simple and therefore caters for all demographics, including younger users who have nabbed their parents’ device. The main menu contains links to Options, Toons.tv, profile, Telepod connectivity, and of course, Play.
The Options pop-up allows you to toggle sound on and off, select between on-screen or movement controls, view credits, and enter unlock codes. There are also links to Rovio on Twitter and Facebook, and the option to connect your Rovio account to Facebook to compete against friends’ scores.
Toons.tv takes you to the website of the same name within the app, providing access to episodes from the Angry Birds television series and other titles. Profile will bring up the account you are logged in to, its total score in Angry Birds Go!, and a link to account details. Telepod allows you to link the game with a Hasbro-manufactured Angry Birds Telepod toy.
Game modes, characters, and cars
Hitting the Play button on the main menu will take you to the levels menu. At the time of writing, four levels are available, but only the first is unlocked by default. Named Seedway, it has two tracks, each of which contains five different gameplay modes: Race, Time Boom, Fruit Splat, Versus, and a boss race against one of the unlockable characters.
Additionally, each of the game modes has a series of difficulty levels. Race, Time Boom, and Fruit Splat have five, whereas both Versus and the boss races have three. To be able to race higher difficulties, you must upgrade your car to the appropriate ‘cc’ level (more on that later). Once all difficulties and bosses are beaten, that character joins your team, and the next track or level is unlocked.
Rovio has also incorporated a series of challenges into each game mode which are there to keep you entertained once you have finished unlocking everything. The challenges contain three special requirements that need to be fulfilled. For example, a race challenge asks you to score over 90,000 points, jump over 50m in a race, and use three boost pads in a race.
Rovio has included 12 playable characters in Angry Birds Go!, each of which has its own special ability. You start with Red, who has a Super Roaster speed boost ability. From there, the unlockables (in order) include Stella (Soda Pop Sedan), Bomb (Big Bang), the Blues (Tri-Toaster), King Pig (Royal Rumbler), Terence (Beep Beep), Bubbles (Rapid Rider), Matilda (Tub-copter), Foreman Pig (Crimson Baron), Hal (Shoemerang), and Corporal Pig (Dragster Snout). The characters’ abilities are different for the player and CPU. For example, Stella blows bubbles backwards if CPU-controlled, and flies up in the air in a single bubble shield when used by you. Each character can be used in five races before requiring a real-time rest. This means that if you really like one character’s ability, you’ll have to wait before using them again.
Instead of each character having their own car, you can purchase one or more cars for the lot to share. Each level requires you to purchase a new car. There isn’t much in the way of options. Free content is restricted to three options, and they require coins in order to be purchased. These are earned in-game, but can also be bought with real money. The other four cars, which have better statistics and are arguably more aesthetically appealing, must be purchased, and some don’t come cheap; it will cost you between $3.27 and $54.60. Paid content is common these days, although we advise parents to ensure Google Play payments require a password so children don’t go tapping away without consent.
The manner in which paid content is presented in Angry Birds Go! was something we noticed immediately; Rovio has included the option to pay for cars, coins, and gems virtually everywhere. While this only proved to be a mild hindrance to us, we can see it being a real bother to parents who allow children to play the game. While payments can be very easily restricted via Google Play settings, the placement of advertisements for purchasing content will frustrate many.
Gameplay, controls and graphics
What makes Angry Birds Go! unique is that it combines downhill racing with the goal of scoring as many points as possible while completing certain tasks in the process. This is what also keeps it addictive. The races aren’t long which makes you feel like you have time to do more, and it also allows you to play for very short periods. As we are Sydney Trains commuters, this was particularly handy when changing trains as it meant we weren’t interrupted mid-race. Let’s face it, stopping mid-way through a Temple Run 2 game when doing well could really put you off reaching a top score.
Aesthetically, Angry Birds Go! is excellent. Content is not overly detailed, but it’s not intended to be, nor should it be, in our opinion. Instead, it stays true to Angry Birds, and does a good job at being a comic-inspired, interactive cartoon. Besides, if graphics are what you want, then another game, such as Real Racing 3, is where you’ll get them.
During our testing period, actual gameplay was smooth and uninterrupted on our Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. The movement controls deserve a mention, too; when we tilted the smartphone, we felt the handling of the cars steered the appropriate amount, and it was responsive when flicking left and right for sharper turns.
We must note, however, that the game crashed on several occasions when flicking through menus very quickly; this is something which will probably be ironed out in future updates.
Developer: Rovio Mobile
Reviewed on: Samsung Galaxy S4
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