Review: Angry Birds Trilogy (Wii U)

An angry trio

What can possibly be said about Angry Birds that hasn’t been said a million times already? A game that started out as a humble iPhone app just four years ago has now permeated our culture in a huge way. There are multiple sequels to the original game, toys, books, an animated television series, and it’s nearly impossible to walk down the street without seeing someone donning an Angry Birds t-shirt, Baseball cap, or some other swag. Once you’ve accepted the fact that Angry Birds is here to stay, the question then becomes “why?”

Why does Angry Birds keep getting ported to different gaming platforms? Why do people wear silly shirts and hats with these cartoon critters on them? Why have we allowed this game to become so influential on our culture that we can’t go a single day without seeing some subtle reminder that it is the biggest craze since the Furby freaked us out and kept us awake all night? While there may not be one concise reason for all of these occurrences, the plainest and most direct answer is simply that Angry Birds is a great game.

Some gamers are set to dismiss the Angry Birds series as "casual" so quickly that it's likely to make your head spin, but what makes a casual game? Is it simplicity in design, ease of use, or accessibility? Is it the hardware on which the game exists? Maybe low difficulty levels? People label the series as “casual” and in turn hate it for reasons that can’t easily be defined. Whatever it is that makes us connote Angry Birds with casual gaming, it can't be far from how one would describe older classics such as Pac-Man or Super Mario Bros. All three of these games combine simple gameplay mechanics with light-hearted tasks to create experiences that millions of people around the globe enjoy, but so many of us refuse to take Angry Birds seriously as a pillar in the modern gaming lineage. If you take a closer look at what Angry Birds has done and continues to do, then it becomes apparent what an abhorrent shame this dismissal is.

For the few out there who haven't already played some iteration, the Angry Birds design is simple in both gameplay and aesthetics. The goal is to destroy towers full of piggies by flinging a variety of birds with varying abilities at them from across the map using a comically large slingshot. As told through a series of animated vignettes, the piggies have stolen the birds' eggs — which, let's face it, amounts to the future crimes of both kidnapping and consumption of the birds' family members — and the birds are none too happy about it. Destroying the piggies and towers will award you points and stars on each stage, ensuring that perfectionists will be forcing themselves to replay stages over and over again to reach the three star maximum. It's all light-hearted fun displayed in a cartoony style with a sharp soundtrack backing it up. Truly the definition of family-friendly entertainment at its finest.

The close readers out there will notice that the word “Trilogy” is featured prominently in the game’s title, and that’s because, you’ve guessed it, this single game disc combines three previously released Angry Birds games in full. The titles included here are the original Angry Birds – referred to in-game as Angry Birds Classic – Angry Birds Seasons, and the 2011 film tie-in Angry Birds Rio. All three games differ thematically, but the core gameplay remains consistent throughout. Combining all of these titles into one package results in a collection of several hundred stages, all of which are replayable and provide a surprisingly formidable challenge. There are also stages exclusive to this Wii U release, and an in-game achievement system to go along with them.

Though this trilogy has already been ported and re-ported numerous times on so many different consoles, none of the charm has been lost on the Wii U. As clear and crisp as the game looks on a mobile screen, it hasn't looked better than when displayed up on a large HD monitor. As mentioned before, the graphics are cartoony, but that doesn't stop them from looking absolutely gorgeous.

Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but Angry Birds Trilogy feels at home on the Wii U as well. Flinging your birds with a combination of the left stick and A button is great, but it is - unsurprisingly - the GamePad’s touchscreen where the magic truly happens. No longer hindered by your finger obstructing your view of the on-screen action, the GamePad allows you to pull back on your bird and set a trajectory all while viewing the stage in its entirety on the much larger television screen. As if the convenience of an improved core gameplay wasn’t enough, you are also given the option to play off television entirely on the GamePad’s screen, providing an experience that rings true to the game’s original mobile format. For all of the Wii Remote fanatics out there, you also have the option of pointing your wands at the television and controlling an on-screen hand that can pull back and release your slingshot, but with superior control schemes available through the GamePad, it’s likely that you’ll only ever exercise this option for the novelty.

Conclusion

The biggest gripe that consumers are obviously going to have here is regarding the price. Angry Birds Trilogy is available on so many platforms at such a vast range of cost that it may seem criminal to charge full retail price for this Wii U iteration, but the quality of the home console release is unmatched. For a game that was originally created and optimized for the iPhone, it’s surprising to see what could arguably be the definitive version released on a home console. If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, addictive pick-up-and-play action, or something that provides a surprising challenge, you’d be remiss to let this one fly under your radar.

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