Simple controls and a simple concept. In the past, there have been games like TinyWings that weren’t all that good. Nevertheless, with the right bit of style, quality is very possible and the proof is Tiny Wings from developer Andreas Illiger. Not even two weeks old, this $0.99 iPhone application has garnered thousands of top user reviews in the app store, and considering it’s not developed by a big name developer with an massive advertising budget, that means it has grown completely naturally.
Best described as a platformer, Tiny Wings actually doesn’t, technically, focus on platforms, but rather momentum and timing as it applies to inclines and declines. With only a single button control scheme, everything is focused on this and making it as stylistic as possible.
Players control a bird by the name of Tiny Wings and he’s always dreamed of flying. The only problem is that his wings are a bit stubby and he cannot get himself off the ground without a little assistance. Luckily, the islands where Tiny Wings makes his nest are filled with hills. Along with a little help from gravity, these become the means to accomplishing his dream.
The idea is simple enough. When Tiny Wings is heading down a hill, the player must tap, and hold, the touch screen. Doing so will make the avatar “heavy” and allow him to gain speed. This is where timing comes into play, as once the incline begins, players need to let go, causing Tiny to flap his wings.
If done correctly, the player’s character will ramp off of the incline and gain even more speed. Once in the air, players have to time their touch once again, while falling, to make sure Tiny hits the decline at optimal speed, or else momentum will be lost. However, should the timing be off, meaning the player touches when Tiny is not traveling down a decline, the character will slow to a crawl.
The goal, is to use this timing and momentum to propel Tiny across the various islands as far as possible before the day ends. If the user is going fast enough, they will actually out pace the setting sun, but one ill-timed touch, and it catches up very quickly.
As an added, yet very minor, bonus, players are given sets of objectives to try and accomplish. This consists of goals such as reaching a certain island or collecting coins that litter the maps. In doing so, they will “level up” their nest on the main menu screen to look more fancy.
In addition to this, the game is integrated with OpenFeint as well. Through this, players are granted a respectable number of achievements, that are actually fairly difficult, as well as a basic leaderboard (there is also an in-game leaderboard for just the device itself). Thus far, the only leaderboard is for the overall high score — which is based mainly on how far the player travels — but the game notes that Game Center and further OpenFeint leaderboards are coming in the next update.
It’s also worth pointing out that the style of Tiny Wings is fantastic. Everything has this colorful, psychedelic feel to it that is beautiful to look at. In addition to this, it is noted that the graphics are procedurally generated and will supposedly change every day one plays. As for the play itself, the feel (control-wise) of the game is excellent and the result of successful timing is highly gratifying; whether its squeals from the character, particle effects, or simply whipping past the background.
The only complaint to be had — the only one — is that sometimes players can ramp off a hill and get “out of synch.” For the most part, hills are laid out in a way, that users will almost always come down on a decline; forcing timing to be the only issue. Unfortunately, every once and a while, the player will begin dropping at the trough between hills or on an incline. Since the play is relatively short (until night falls), it’s not a huge deal, but it is annoying when one is doing well and something out of their control occurs.
All in all, however, Tiny Wings is a fantastic newer game for iPhone. Extraordinarily simple and addictive, it’s a title that can be picked up and played at any time, by anyone.