There’s almost no point describing the premise of Angry Birds. For one, as any parent can attest) a child can work out how to play it in seconds. And for another, the backstory involving green pigs stealing eggs from our justifiably eponymous heroes is, frankly, ridiculous.
But since when were great games about great storylines? Angry Birds’ strength isn’t in plot or development – almost the only thing that changes as you cycle through the levels (of which there are hundreds, more via updates and even more through various themed editions) are the number, size and shape of your avian slingshot fodder.
That load is hurled at various ramshackle fortresses cobbled together (by the pigs) from wood, stone and glass. Your job is to play the big bad wolf (in bird’s clothing), killing the porcine theives who bruise and eventually perish as joists, rocks, fellow pigs, birds – anything, in fact – falls on them.
Kill the pigs, the eggs are returned and you proceed to the next level. Fail and you are subjected to the mocking laughter of green pigs. But it takes more than a goading pig to keep most people coming back for more. That job is left to the undeniably brilliant physics – buildings teeter, wood splinters, glass smashes, rocks crumble and fall, everything bounces – and colourful, engaging gameplay.
Its rapidly-won popularity, to be fair, is probably also down to its accessible difficulty rating. Even the most challenging levels can be brought to a successful conclusion without too much sweat, even if luck does sometimes play a part. Those seeking expert status can aspire to the three-star completions achieved by superior acts of destruction. (If you’re really stuck, you can buy a Golden Eagle superbird in-app. Shame on you!)
But as commuter time-killers go, Angry Birds’ simple gameplay and rewardingly moreish pattern of ordered chaos and pig death is capable of making us glad when the train is, inevitably, late.