Angry Birds Space – out now

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Angry Birds Space launches concurrently on Apple iOS and Android devices, as well as PCs and Macintosh computers. “From the weightlessness of space to the gravity wells of nearby planets, fans can have fun with physics as they try out new gameplay possibilities,” said Ville Heijari, a vice-president for Rovio, which released the game in December 2009. Since then the Finnish game studio has had more than 700 million downloads of its Angry Birds games in which players propel the birds at a crew of pigs who stole their eggs.

The original game and various offshoots, such as Angry Birds Seasons and the movie tie-in release, Angry Birds Rio, are free; others are 99¢ to $2.99 for versions with more levels or the absence of ads. Similar pricing is expected for the new game. Advertisement: Story continues below  The story behind the new game: The birds and pigs are sucked into outer space by a vortex. For Angry Birds Space, Rovio has teamed with several partners for an opening rivalling that of a blockbuster movie: * NASA, which announced the new game this month in a video from the International Space Station, has more collaborations with the game developer in the works.

“Angry Birds is an exciting way to get people engaged with NASA’s missions of exploration and discovery, and get students energised about future careers in science and technology,”

NASA’s David Weaver said. * National Geographic has a new book out this week, National Geographic Angry Birds Space, for $US13.95 ($13.30), that mixes images of the bird characters with facts about space, the solar system and gravity, along with pictures from the Hubble telescope. In addition to zero gravity and the possibility of floating and curved playing environments, Rovio’s new game adds stars that boost the birds. “We wanted to create a fresh new approachable take on the Angry Birds gameplay,” Mr Heijari said. “Five of the original characters have new looks and superpowers, and there is one entirely new character that turns elements into ice on contact.” One of Rovio’s founders, Peter Vesterbacka, has estimated the private company’s worth as high as $US9 billion, nearly that of the social-game company Zynga.

Billy Pidgeon, an analyst at M2 Research, is sceptical of that valuation but expects the new game “will help Rovio more quickly exceed 1 billion downloads of the franchise”. Angry Birds was a rare game with mass appeal, Mr Pidgeon said. “Kids like it, all the way up to seniors,” he said.

“It’s a simple and effective game play mechanic that appeals to everyone (but) it’s unusual enough that it stands apart from other things.” However, the company had a lot riding on the new game, he said. “They have been perceived as a one-trick pony, and have just been reskinning Angry Birds for different themes for quite a while,” he said. “It’s put up or shut up time, basically.”

via USA today

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