Feb. 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM ET
It's all about the birds these days. Witness, for example, "Angry Bird's" epic hold on Apple's App Store charts ... not to mention its hold on hearts the world over.
And now, another bird — this one far less grumpy — has knocked "Angry Birds" from its perch to become the No. 1 paid app on iTunes. The game is called "Tiny Wings" and you should get thee to the App Store and download it promptly. Playable on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, it'll cost you a mere 99 cents and will be worth every feather-lovin' penny.
Created by German game designer Andreas Illiger, "Tiny Wings" tasks players with helping a round little bird get some big air. You see, like the "Angry Birds," this wee bird can't seem to fly on its own accord. Its tiny wings have left it with the flight skills of a chicken and thus it needs the touch of your finger to help it launch into the clouds.
That is, as it skims across the surface of brightly colored and terrifically hilly terrain, you touch the screen when the bird is on a downhill slide to help it gain momentum and thus launch skyward as it comes off the top of the next rise. You'll need to time your touches right to give the bird lots of sky time and also make it so he plummets earthward in time to gobble up glowy items on the ground. Check it out:
There are no pigs to contend with here, but the dark of night is always on your heels and will bring your game to a stop if it catches you.
The game's graphics are "procedurally" generated, which means the colorful landscape changes randomly every time you play through. And the music in "Tiny Wings" is cotton-candy cute in all the right ways. All in all, the game offers that perfect blend of iDevice simplicity combined with the kind of hard-to-master skills to keep you coming back over and over again (think "Fruit Ninja").
If you don't get the appeal of "Tiny Wings" on your first play through, I recommend that you give it a few more tries. Because once you get the rhythm of the thing — learn how to really launch that bird into the sky — you will be hooked.
There's no way to know how long "Tiny Wings" will keep its newfound position on iTunes' top perch. "Angry Birds" has been knocked down before but always manages to claw its way back. Still, no matter what, "Tiny Wings" makes a fine feathered friend and a nice change of pace.
Meanwhile, if you're already one of the many "Tiny Wings" fans, consider picking up the iPhone game "Solipskier." It operates under a similar-ish principle in which you use your finger to draw the curves of the landscape beneath a skier's feet to score points and get big air.
"Solipskier" has been nominated for the Best Mobile Game award at the Independent Games Festival taking place in San Francisco this week. The winner will be announced Wednesday night.
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