Angry Birds Stella is Angry Birds, but the birds are lady birds. Not ladybirds, or lady 'birds', but lady birds. They're strong and empowered and one of them lives in a house that has a ponytail.
The Angry Birds franchise is big business now, you can tell from the level of polish lavished all over Stella's adventures. The animation is gorgeous, the characters are individual, and the levels are mainly trees. Everything's bright and bold and there are giggling noises and squonking pigs.
And the game underneath it all is Angry Birds. You pull back on a catapult to bring down pig and structure alike. There are twists, there are some neat ideas, but this is Angry Birds from its bones to its beak.
After some preamble you're dropped into the game. You've got a number of birds to throw at some pigs. Either you kill them all or you run out and have to start again.
You're still dragging a finger across the screen to aim your shots, and lifting it to fire. There's a bit more going on after that than usual though.
Stella herself can be aimed again after that first launch. Tap where you want her to hit, tweak it with a slide, then lift your finger to send her careening off in that direction.
With a bit of practice you can bounce her around corners, which opens up some interesting destructive tactics.
Another of the birds fires a sonic blast that you can aim once she's airborne. It shatters glass but solid rock will stop it.
Then there's the blonde bird who can smash down in a slightly manic tornado spin. Hold your finger on the screen, then lift it up when you're over your desired target.
Things have changed elsewhere too. The number of birds you have per round is now dependent on the number of stars you've earned previously. If you've not done well you might find yourself facing a level with just one avian projectile.
There are coins to collect as well. You can spend these on images, and on extra birds and bonuses if you're stuck on a level. You can buy coins with real cash as well.
You can also use them to kill the game's wait timers. For about the first hour of play you won't be accosted by these, but they sneak up after level 23.
Essentially a bomb gets dropped, and you need to wait an hour for the smoke it creates to clear or pay some coins to get rid of it.
There's another one at level 33. This time the wait's longer and the price to pay is higher. It's a free to play game, so this is the sort of thing we've come to expect. Doesn't make it any less annoying though. There are adverts too. Often.
The same old song
Angry Birds Stella is a product of the success of Rovio. There are some nice ideas, but nothing that moves the series along any great distance. And this is a series that's been barreling along for the best part of half a decade.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And that's fair enough. If you like Angry Birds then you'll like Angry Birds Stella. You might even buy the playsets and toys, who knows?
But is it innovative? No. Is it worth getting excited about? No. And will it make millions of pounds for Rovio? Almost certainly.[Edited on 4th September 2014]