Hands-on with EA tapper Fly With Me

Fly guy

Hands-on with EA tapper Fly With Me
| Fly With Me

There were many games before it, but Andreas Illiger’s innovative hit Tiny Wings really busted down the door on the tap-to-fly genre.

EA’s upcoming game Fly With Me takes the idea airborne, borrowing from ustwo's Whale Trail and PopCap's Facebook game Pig Up! We had some exclusive hands-on time with the upcoming iPhone title.

Our heroic bird is minding his own business when bees come and attack his nest. This sends him on a mission to fly from tree to tree, eating as many bees as possible while avoiding hazards.

The bees provide nourishment, giving you at least one additional chance to flap your wings. You can only flap your wings so many times, so if you fail to eat too many bees you die.

A little map at the top of the screen shows you how much farther you have to go, which makes it easier to determine how many more flaps you need.

Perfect timing

Flapping is as simple as tapping the screen. The game automatically scrolls forward, so the real focus is on altitude. You have to be at the right height to fly over trees, slip through crevasses, and even occasionally fly down into underground passages.

It's all about surviving from one end of the level to the other, but the game rewards you for collecting both stars and cog-shaped power-ups.

It uses the now-standard three-star system to grade your performance, but here you literally have to grab the three individual stars in the level.

Each level also has a cog that gets you closer to unlocking a cool-looking robot bird. It’s still unclear what the mechanical parrot does, but it is another reason to master each of the levels.

Smooth takeoff

In our hands-on, we were able to breeze through the first ten of 45 levels without a hitch. The game starts off gently, with its mellow music and nearly jeopardy-free beginning. But about halfway through the game’s first world things becomes more dangerous, with poisonous bees, caustic smog, and aggressive spiders.

Things get much more complicated throughout the three worlds: Fields, Trees, and Tropical. Earning enough stars will unlock the next world, so you don’t need to master each and every level to progress.

Doing well enough in a particular world will also unlock the endless Challenge mode, where you fly for as long as possible. EA also includes a simpler Kid Mode for younger players.

We’re still eager to hear about downloadable content for Fly With Me. As it stands, however, the silky gameplay has the potential to make the game a hit next month.

Fly With Me will be out on the iPhone sometime in February.