There are mixed feelings at Pocket Gamer Towers about App Store phenomenon Angry Birds.
On one hand, it was one of the games that really helped put the App Store on the map, with its addictive 'just one more go' gameplay and constant squawking.
On the other hand, some believe developer Rovio has wrung this particular franchise a little too dry, with around a dozen Angry Birds products now available, including a movie, clothing, and a physical game from Mattel.
Wait. A physical game? That actually sounds pretty good.
So we picked up a copy of Angry Birds: Knock on Wood to see for ourselves. As it turns out, we're best sticking to the touchscreen, as real-life Angry Birds is definitely not as fun as the video game version.
Rack 'em up
Angry Birds: Knock on Wood comes with a set of bricks and pigs for setting up various levels, and three birds for then knocking your handiwork down.
You take it in turns to choose a points card and then attempt to knock down all the birds in the setup shown on the card. If you manage to do so, you win the points on the card, and whoever gets to 1,000 points first wins.
Sounds pretty straightforward. The problem is that you'll actually spend more time setting the game up than playing it.
It takes a good two minutes to set each level up, and then around 20 seconds to knock it all down again. And believe me - setting up levels quickly becomes boring.
It's also strangely difficult to set certain levels up, with balancing acts and precise movements needed to keep it all together. The box for the game says 5+ years, but we can't imagine a 5-year-old managing this any better than we did.
Watch 'em fly
With the construction out of the way, we moved on to firing the birds.
The game comes with a pull-back catapult that launches a selection of three birds - red, yellow, and black - at the level you've built.
As you'd guess, the birds can't zoom, or explode, or do any of the things they can do in the iPhone game, although they do have interesting traits based on their shapes and weights.
The red bird rolls quite easily, but is rather light and doesn't do so much damage. The yellow does more to move blocks, but has a flat base so it essentially hits the table and stops moving.
Black is the heaviest and is most likely to drop those pigs, but it has a fuse coming out of the top of its head which prevents it from rolling properly, and it will usually bounce off in the wrong direction.
Unfortunately, none of this matters, because the catapult's springing action is so poor.
On a flat service, pulling the catapult back to its fullest and letting go will not even allow the birds to reach the structure (at the recommended distance of one foot away).
Instead, we had to put the catapult over an edge so that it could be pulled back further. Yet even then, the birds would launch into the air rather than forwards, making it incredibly difficult to aim properly.
Nothing we tried worked very well, and it became complete trial and error whether we hit the pigs or not. We wouldn't mind if it was a case of 'practice makes perfect', but it's simply too difficult to judge shots with such a flimsy catapult.
We seriously cannot understand how a child would be able to play Knock on Wood. Of course, children usually have more persistence when it comes to physical challenges such as this, so perhaps it's our august maturity that's the issue.
Which leads us to the following conclusion: if you're buying for a child, then he'll probably enjoy it, just like he'll enjoy anything that has Angry Birds on it.
An adult looking to buy this for a laugh, however, shouldn't bother - it will, appropriately enough, make you angry.
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