Happiness is not something usually for sale, and when it is, it is definitely more expensive than one dollar. Games can give joy as a by-product to conquering challenges, solving puzzles or fragging your friends. Then there is Tiny Wings which is pure PURE joy.
A small bird with tiny wings, and a huge dream to be able to fly is what the game is all about. The dream has to be lived in one day, as the sun chases the bird into slumber. It is such a beautiful premise of a game that it can melt the heart of any man or beast.
Tapping anywhere on the screen does all the controls. That might make the game sound like a Canabalt clone, but it is far from it. The world is filled with hills, and slopes. To gain speed the bird tucks it’s wings going down slopes by you touching the screen. Letting go as the slope goes into an incline gives a speed boost. Repeat these perfect slides to go into fever mode that gains you loads of bonus points.
The faster you go, the further you get. Sunlight is slowly fading, with night slowly stalking our chirpy little hero as he flies from island to island. The islands are fixed, and this gives you the chance to learn the different slopes and best ways to travel to escape the evil darkness.
The presentation in Tiny Wings is beautiful with a rich color palette, and a plethora of cool effects creating the world. The world changes color, and patterns depending on when you play. This keeps it fresh, and adds variation to the retro goodness. The warm sparse soundtrack along with the happy chirps as our feathered protagonist takes to the air makes my heart twice the size. I am feeling the love, and my soul is replenished with power.
Tiny Wings isn’t a relaxation application, and it is not my intention to make it sound anywhere near it. It is actually a bit of a hardcore game as well because of the bonus nest upgrades. The larger the nest, the larger the bonus becomes. To gain size you have to complete certain goals. Initially these are simple, and accomplished by just playing. I have had to play upside down, stay in fever mode for longer than I thought possible, and am currently spending ages trying to make ten perfect slides on the first island. The difference between Tiny Wings, and other games is that I am still happy when trying for the 50th time to beat a goal, a testament to the gameplay. Scores and achievements are available through OpenFeint if you want to show others how happy you are.
Tiny Wings is a mini masterpiece, and will be a regular on my home-screen for quite some time. It is the kind of game that you can play for ten minutes, or for four hours in one sitting. It is also another one of these indie developer dreams coming true. I really applaud the App Store as a phenomenon where talent pays off big time. Just like our bird in the game the developer is flying in a dream now.
If you haven’t bought Tiny Wings yet, just go ahead and get it. It’s a hard one to rate, as it has qualities I haven’t even seen before in a game. It taps into the brain, and pours in happiness straight into the otherwise grey and dull cortex. A truly un-missable budget title!