When Tiny Wings was first introduced last year, it went on to become a massive hit. Part of the appeal of the game was its simple, one-touch gameplay that made it easy for people to play one-handedly on the subway or during long queues. The other part was its whimsical, dynamically generated artwork and beautiful music.
The "Old" Tiny Wings
The game starts by introducing you to its heroine: a cute, pudgy green bird with tiny wings that can barely fly. By tapping on the screen at the right time, you help the bird slide downhill and leap into the air for some time. The catch is, the bird will fall asleep during the night, so you must race against time and fly as far away as possible across multiple islands before the night catches up with you.
While the concept of endless runner is nothing new, Tiny Wings was special. The game used procedural graphics which dynamically generates new hills every day, introducing a new challenge every time you play. Also, there was something cute about a tiny round bird trying to fly across colorful Seussian hills.
Tiny Wings 2.0
After months of anticipation, the highly anticipated Tiny Wings 2.0 was finally available yesterday as a free update. Along with Retina artwork, the game also receives a new chapter called Flight School. The original play mode has been left as it is, but rebranded as Chapter 1: Day Trip.
In Flight School, we learn that heroine bird's eggs have hatched into four chicks, each with its own name and distinct appearance. They are hungry, so they must fly to momma bird to be fed. You select a baby bird and race against your AI-controlled siblings to get to the nest as fast as possible. The sooner you get there, the bigger the fish mama feeds you. If you are dead last, all you get is a measly worm.
Sounds easy, right? Well, sort of. While the game mechanics have remained the same, this new chapter introduces a new set of terrains that I can guarantee will challenge even the most seasoned players. The hills have extreme slopes in this mode, as well as long, flat areas in the middle and puddles of water that will slow you down considerably if you accidentally dive in. There are no speed coins, but instead you get bouncy flowers that you can jump on to get a speed boost.
Currently, there are three new islands in Flight School, each containing five levels. In order to unlock higher levels and new islands, you must come in third place or better. As you earn more points, your chosen bird can "nest up" as well.
With the new update, Tiny Wings also supports iCloud sync. This makes it easy for people who own both the iPhone and iPad version of the game to share their progress and achievements across all their devices.
Tiny Wings HD
Along with Tiny Wings 2.0 that is available for the iPhone, a dedicated iPad version of the game was also launched. Aptly named Tiny Wings HD, this version also has Retina artwork, all the features available in Tiny Wings 2.0 and one extra chapter titled Hill Party.
Hill Party is a multiplayer mode that allows you to play against a friend on the same iPad. The game takes advantage of the iPad's bigger screen and splits it into two halves, each controlled by you and your opponent. You can then go head-to-head to be the "Island King" (the first to reach 10,000 points on an island) or compete to earn the highest score on five islands.
Why I'm glad I bought the HD version
Ever since Eric showed me Tiny Wings, I have always been a big fan of the game. I don't game nearly as much as other people but Tiny Wings was so easy to pick up that I found myself playing it a lot. And, being the doodler that I am, I absolutely adored the whimsical artwork.
With Tiny Wings HD, the the developer has solved one feature that I wish the original Tiny Wings had: more challenge. The new, hand-designed terrains and the AI opponents in Flight School really bring an interesting twist to the game. I consider myself an ok player, but I have yet to win all levels against the hungry bird siblings.
I am also excited about multiplayer mode. Playing against computer is challenging, but there is a whole different experience that you get when you play against friends in real life. AIs can replicate the competition, but they can't reproduce the togetherness, the competitiveness, and the satisfaction of seeing your friend throw a fit after getting his butt kicked in the game. To me, this is a good enough reason to justify buying the HD version of the game. Plus, the game looks amazing on the new iPad's Retina screen.
Andreas Illiger, the developer of Tiny Wings, I salute you for releasing an excellent update to an already wonderful game. It's really clever how the new play modes do not interfere with the original game. Rather, they extend it and provide a whole new experience.