The PlayStation Minis version of Angry Birds lacks features, despite coming in at a higher price. What's more, we're just not convinced the gameplay is all that great in the first place.
Angry Birds is a critical darling; the poster-child of a year's worth of media hype that's frequently reiterated, "Apple platforms are the future of handheld gaming." If Angry Birds really is the future of handheld gaming, you can well and truly count us out. While there's a perfectly serviceable charm to Angry Birds' whacky puzzle physics, the concept becomes utterly tiresome after all of five minutes.
In case you've been living under a rock, Angry Birds is as simple as gaming mechanics come. On the right side of the screen are towering constructions made of glass and stone, and on the left is a catapult. You use the L and R buttons to flick between the screens, while holding both to get a view of the full screen. It's an annoying decision — why isn't the default camera angle a shot of the whole screen in the first place? You'll spend a lot of time grasping the L and R buttons while playing Angry Birds.
Using the analogue stick and X button, you'll catapult birds towards the constructions on the right of the screen, hoping to topple them and crush the pigs concealed inside. The gameplay is very physics centric, so it's all about aiming towards the right components of the tower to bring it crashing down. Levels can be completed through three score conditions — earning one star means you managed to complete the level, while three means you found the optimum solution.
While the gameplay works perfectly well without the touch screen inputs it's popular for, we still think it's abysmally repetitive. Sure, hitting a tower in the perfect spot can be rewarding when it eventually topples, but the satisfaction is short-lived and cheap. "Woohoo. Physics. Game of the year." Not.
The PlayStation Minis version of Angry Birds comes without all the leaderboards functionality that's been patched into the iOS version. Unfortunately the lack of online functionality is a limitation of the Minis platform, so you can't really hold Angry Birds responsible for that. Despite missing components though, Angry Birds on Minis carries a higher price-tag than its iOS counterpart. We're sure there are business reasons behind the decision, but from a consumer perspective it's pretty disappointing.
The Minis version of Angry Birds also suffers from some technical hiccups. Slow-down is apparent when playing on both the PlayStation 3 and PSP, and the save system is really abhorrent. It takes upwards of 5 seconds to save the game, really breaking the pace of what's intended to be a quick-fire game.
The gameplay's kept varied by the introduction of new bird types. Some split into three, while others explode on impact. The visual style is colourful and quirky throughout, and perhaps Angry Birds' strongest suite.
But we just don't really like it. We get why it's the perfect solution for toilet breaks, but we can't even manage to stretch a single Angry Birds session across a 20-minute train ride. Despite all the levels, content and score challenges, it's just not the saviour of handheld gaming it's touted to be. The gameplay's well polished, and the level design's fine, but the core concept is spread far too thin to make it worthy of any serious attention.
If the media weren't riding so high on Apple-mania, no one would be talking about Angry Birds.