Angry Birds Reloaded interview: Ben Mattes and Sami Ronkainen discuss the latest instalment in the popular series
Angry Birds Reloaded arrived on Apple Arcade last week, bringing a revamped take on the popular game to subscribers of the service. It promises the classic slingshot action we all know and love in a beautifully presented package, alongside some new characters to fling at shoddily built structures.
We recently had the chance to chat with Ben Mattes and Sami Ronkainen about the game. We discussed how the idea for the game came about in the first place, the process of designing new characters and a whole lot more!
Could you introduce yourself and your role on Angry Birds Reloaded for our readers, please?My name is Ben Mattes. I’ve been at Rovio for a little over a year now and wear a few different hats but one is that I help lead the Angry Birds Brand strategy for the company. That includes things like “what sorts of AB games should we make?”, “How can we more meaningfully engage with our fans?”, “what can we do to grow the Angry Birds lore and world?”, etc.
And my name is Sami Ronkainen, and I am the Creative Director for Angry Birds Reloaded!
How did the idea to create Angry Birds Reloaded come about?BM: Rovio has a fantastic relationship with Apple - we always have - so Apple Arcade is something we’ve been looking seriously at for some time. There has been a consistent request from many of our fans to find ways to bring back some of our older and most beloved titles (example: the original Angry Birds). Apple Arcade provided us a perfect way to take the familiar core gameplay, birds, environments and levels from Angry Birds but reimagine it in an all-new way, hopefully pleasing fans old and new alike.
Why did you decide Apple Arcade was the best platform for this experience?BM: We have regular discussions with Apple. They’re as aware of the nostalgic hunger for the original Angry Birds as anyone. Apple Arcade creates a great way for developers to offer up a ‘premium’ experience to players without the rhythm of in-app purchases or ads while still creating a business case that makes sense for the developers. I’d say it’s a win-win and both parties came to the table with the appetite to do something on the platform.
There's often a debate among gamers regarding the distinction between remasters and remakes. Which would you describe Angry Birds Reloaded as, if either?BM: It’s not a Remaster, or a Remake. It’s Reloaded. ;)
Seriously, though, I don’t know that I’ve spent too much time thinking about the nuances of the difference. What matters is that it’s familiar and yet fresh. Beloved and yet bold. Whether it’s a Hollywood movie remade for modern tastes and audiences, a classic recipe reimagined with a specific cultural twist or a famous game brought revisited with new style, polish and mechanics - the value is the same. People who loved the ‘original’ should love the ’new’. People who never got a chance to experience the original can now participate in the discussion - they ‘get it’.
Not everything can or should be remade. But when it works, it really works!
Angry Birds Reloaded introduces a new game mode involving The Eagles. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that involves and what players can expect?SR: On the main screen of the game you can see the piggy scientist, Garry, who is wholly unimpressed by anything. If you collect enough stars from the levels, you will persuade Garry to take you to Eagle Island. On Eagle Island you get to see new locations and play with new characters from The Angry Birds Movie 2. You will see birds and pigs joining forces as playable characters to fight against the eagles – guarding their evil leader, Zeta.
This game introduces new characters to slingshot around. Can you talk us through the process of designing a new bird – or pig – and how you ensure they feel distinctive from one another?SR: The new characters are the hero flock from the Angry Birds Movie 2. They already have very distinct personalities and looks, so it was about finding those key moments in the film that define them. For example, the superpower of Courtney the pig is that you initially shoot the eagle disguise, Harvey, from the sling, and Courtney pops out of his butt. Anyone who has seen the film will remember that scene and understand where it comes from.
As for the new looks, I think the longest discussions we had were over the design of Silver. She has existed in a game before, with a certain look. However, since the locations and the story in Angry Birds Reloaded are tied into the movies, we decided to go for a movie-based design on Silver's character.
For the superpowers of each character, we were looking for something that would be useful but not overpowered. For some characters, such as Leonard and Silver, superpowers were based on abilities from our other games that we decided were worth keeping.
In late June, you announced that several delisted Angry Birds games would return in some form. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?BM: To be clear - Reloaded is not what we meant when we said some originals would be back in some form. With that we have a different objective. 100% nostalgia. Complete fan service. The lowest possible friction and the largest possible audience.
We aren’t yet ready to announce how we’ll do that - we’re looking at all the options - but we’re committed to doing it and keeping the community abreast of the process and the progress.
So. I guess: stay tuned. ;)
Angry Birds Reloaded is available now on Apple Arcade, a subscription service that costs $4.99 per month. For more information on other games in its extensive library, check out our dedicated hub page.Definitive list of every Apple Arcade game available