More of the same can be a good thing.
No kid shuns trick-or-treating because he doesn't want a basket full of identical Mars bars. On the contrary, he's out scurrying from house to house, begging for every bit of candy he can get his greedy, grasping hands on.
Angry Birds Halloween gives you what you want: more of the same. More an expansion pack than sequel or offshoot, its 45 levels of bird-flinging action are familiar fun.
That familiarity is welcome, but limiting. Solid levels and a higher level of difficulty make this a nice extension if you've mastered the original Angry Birds.
Carved from the same pumpkin
Although the levels are new, the gameplay is not. Using a slingshot on the left side of the screen, the goal is to destroy pigs sheltered on the right by flinging various types of birds.
These include blue scatter shot birds that split into three smaller chicks when tapped, kamikaze types that speed toward their target when touched, and motherly white foul that drop an explosive egg when tapped.
Knowing how to wield these birds is crucial because the pigs hide within ridiculous structures made of wood, glass, and concrete that must be broken in order to reach the swine inside. Learning to set the right trajectory is crucial to success. The next most important skill is mastery of each bird's special ability.
Along with the usual suspects, Angry Birds Halloween introduces point-boosting pumpkins. Squashing these jack o' lanterns nets you bonus points and earns you an achievement via Game Center (only on iPhone and iPod touch), though it's often a tough task considering some of the deviously designed levels and limited avian supply.
Trial and horror
The difficulty is steeper than in the original Angry Birds, which is likely an intentional consideration for those well-versed in the first game.
This doesn't make Angry Birds Halloween unapproachable, but it does result in an undesirable increase in trial-and-error gameplay. Without the experience of playing the original, you can anticipate having to replay a lot of stages.
A poorly structured level select system forces you to play each stage in sequence. You're never afforded the option to skip a level - a common feature that ensures you can escape frustration if you find yourself stumped by a particular stage.
Opening up a handful of levels at any given time would be a reasonable solution. Instead, the game is unnecessarily linear.
Of course, these structural issues don't detract from what remains an entertaining game. Angry Birds Halloween is pleasantly more of the same, though you're best served by playing the original before tackling this holiday treat.