Tiny Wings represents one of my rare forays into iOS gaming. As anybody that knows me will tell you, my phone is outrageously outdated. It’s the kind of archaic monstrosity that could scarcely handle running Snake without overheating in an alarming manner and smoking like Stephenson’s Rocket. (I like to imagine a midget Scotty lurking inside the casing, flipping switches frantically and despairing, “I can’t do it, Captain! We don’t have the power!”) As such, I don’t get to play much away from the dedicated consoles. Having recently entered the 21st Century somewhat, I was promptly captivated by this adorable avian.
Andreas Illiger’s 2011 smash hit presents a endless level (subtly differing each time you play) and a weeny bird. (I’ve decided to call him Horatio.) At sunrise, you start on your unerring path to the right of the scrolling screen, pursued relentlessly by the encroaching night. Horatio appears to have narcoleptic tendencies, or he’s just a lazyass. Whatever the case, he’ll instantly fall into a doze at the first hint of darkness, ending your game. It pursues you like a slavering wiener-hunting dog (And I’m not even referring to sausages. The dogs around here are vicious bastards indeed), so you must move as fast as possible to score well. Guard your penis vigilantly from carnivorous canines, and let’s see how this is done.
Horatio, alas, has the most pathetically lame wings you can fathom. Fortunately for the little dude, his world is composed almost entirely from a multitude of hills. (Some kind of fanciful skater’s paradise planet, by the look of it. Those wacky guys and their death-defying shenanigans would love it. If Fanciful Skater’s Paradise Planet has a cloud nine, they’d be on it. To the max. With the peaks of their hats rotated 180 degrees, and their shirts bearing the legend you wish you were as cool as me. But you aren’t. Because I’m me. You’re just a waste of oxygen which could otherwise be speeding through my far more awesome bloodstream right now. It had to be printed in miniscule letters, I’ll concede, but the point is clear nonetheless.) Back with Horatio, you move forward automatically. To progress, you press and hold to tuck in your wing-stumps and gain momentum whilst sliding on your ass. At the height of the hill, you then release the screen to flap your stumps and soar majestically through the air. Or as close to such as this midget can muster.
It’s a game of timing, where a single misjudged swan dive will cut your momentum as instantly as a swift shovel to the face. It’s disconcertingly tactical, for a game you can play simply by pawing ineffectually at the screen (Like a cat when a mouse fleetingly appears on TV.) Will you lose a little time to grab the score-boosting coins? Will you be able to maintain fever mode long enough to reach the next island? Tiny Wings is chock full of such delicately nuanced notions and strategies. The physics are phenomenal, and the presentation exudes charm to such a degree it could be bottled and sold. Just look at the bird. You know you want to take him home, romp with carefree abandon through buttercup fields with him, and generally cavort with him. (On second thought, I’m almost certain you don’t. But let’s not be pernickety.)
In sum, it’s not often you find a monstrously addictive, spare-change title that’s simple enough for a goddamn cat to play yet sufficiently deep for gamers to enjoy.
Sure, the cat will become bored after a second or two and wander off sanctimoniously to lick its balls or take a dump in someone’s yard. But that’s just how cats are.
Here's a video review of the game, for your delectation:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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