There have been many mega hits on the App Store since its launch, the most notable of which has to be Angry Birds, but recently there was another avian themed title that knocked Angry Birds off its lofty perch, and that game was Tiny Wings.
Developed by a one man studio, Tiny Wings is surprisingly polished and very professional, yet also extremely threadbare. Each play session will probably only last a couple of minutes, but the compulsive nature of the gameplay, as well as the clever touches that make you want to see more, ensure that there will be plenty of those small gaming sessions.
You play a tiny bird who cannot fly properly, but must instead dive, jump and build momentum to touch the clouds. Touching the screen makes him hold his wings in, making him heavier and diving towards the floor, and letting go of the screen makes him try to flap higher. Using these simple controls, you can help him to slide down hills and flap up hills, and do this correctly, build momentum and the bird will start to soar higher and higher.
It is when he is high up that the difficulty begins, as you must time your downward plunges to coincide with the downward slopes of the many hills flying by below. Time it all just right, and you can get him among the clouds.
The game is a race against the clock, as you have just one day to get as far as possible, with the setting sun your timer. When night falls, it is game over and back to the start. Luckily, the game is split into islands, and when you reach the end of an island, a giant ramp will send you flying to the next island, as well as giving you some extra daylight to play with.
There are coins to collect along the way, as well as blue balls that give you a boost. They are there to help you get back to soaring quickly, as it can get difficult to get back on track after a mistake.
It’s here that the game can fall down a bit, as it is incredibly frustrating when you get bogged down and have to build up your speed from scratch. With the impending darkness chasing you, coming to a complete stop is maddening, and can often lead to more mistakes, as well as a smashed iPhone or two. I really think there should be more of the helper boosts lying around to alleviate this frustration.
The game is beautiful to behold, with a hand drawn, fabric crafted look that goes really well with the changing lighting conditions. The looks are really an incentive, as you will be desperate to know what is on the next island. Procedural graphics means that there is always something new, even if you don’t make it.
There is full Game Center and Openfient integration, with all the expected leaderboards and some clever achievements that are linked in to objectives in the game. These objectives, aimed at getting new nests basically form the only real progression in the title, aside from the need to better your score. There is also a nice stats screen and local scores.
The game is very addictive, and is the sort of title that you will come back to time and time again, but I feel there should be more here in terms of content. I would really love to see a ‘free’ mode that lets you play on an infinite island, and I think the lack of a ghost race, where you race against a ghost of your best time, is also a bit of a missed opportunity. A mode where you went from right to left would be a simple way of adding variety.
What is here is sure to draw you in, once you get the hang of the gameplay, and comes highly recommended as one of the best examples of how good casual games can be on iOS.