Over the past two years, we’ve seen Angry Birds rise from a simplistic mobile game into a full-blow franchise. The addictive nature of flinging disgruntled fowl at haphazardly built fortresses — not to mention the acute business acumen of its developer, Rovio Mobile — have resulted in more than 500 million downloads, a whole series of games, a movie, clothing, chuckable pillows and a guaranteed place in the pop-culture history books.
Despite all this grandeur, the concept behind the game is numbingly simple: Your characters, the so-called Angry Birds, want their eggs back from those dirty, thieving swine. But what if the villainous pigs really aren’t so bad. What if the birds are really the bad guys?
The answer is, essentially, the plot of a newly-released free game for iOS called Misunderstood Pigs (iTunes). Developer Gordon Hempton, the game’s creator, describes his game as the “inverse of Angry Birds.”
“The gameplay is simple: place objects to save the pigs from an impending onslaught of projectiles,” writes Hempton on his blog, CodeBrief.
That’s it. That’s the game.
The “objects” include boards, ice, planks, boxes and various other forms of Angry Birds-like building materials. “Projectiles” primarily include Angry Birds-like kamikaze characters. (At least, that’s all that showed up in the early levels we had a chance to play through.) And the environment is similar to Rovio’s game, but unique enough to differentiate it from its inspiration.
“I had been sitting on this game at 90% completion for at least 5 months, and decided to bite the bullet and spend a few days finishing the last 10%,” writes Hempton, an alumnus of renowned start-up incubator Y Combinator. In addition to making apps, Hempton also founded GroupTalent, a service that connects freelance developers and designers with project owners.
Released through the iTunes App Store on Tuesday, Misunderstood Pigs is entertaining and well-made, though it still has a slight work-in-progess matte coating that betrays its young age. As one commenter on Hacker News explains, the game needs music, the ads are annoying, there are a number of glitches to work out, and it’s too easy to win. But hey, it’s fun, and it’s free. So it would be uncouth to get overly up-in-arms about its early downfalls.
We will add that the movement of the various building pieces was often difficult to accomplish; other times, we couldn’t selected the pieces at all. Again, not a big deal, but something to take into consideration on the next update.
The cynical amongst you will likely criticize Misunderstood Pigs for its similarity to Angry Birds. And that’s fair. But it’s entirely beside the point. This game expands the Angry Birds world in a way that has never existed before. The plot thickens, as they say, and it gives the opportunity for versus gameplay that Angry Birds currently lacks.
If we were Rovio, we’d buy this game, give it the ol’ Angry Birds polish, and get those downloads over a billion.