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'Angry Birds Trilogy' preview: Rovio brings the phenomenon to consoles

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'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile


Angry Birds Trilogy brings the mobile gaming phenomenon to Xbox 360, PS3 and 3DS with new bells and whistles. Offering the first three releases together - Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio - in one retail package, each game has entirely new visuals designed for high definition televisions, optional Kinect and Move controls and exclusive new stages and bonus content.

Angry Birds has seen a staggering amount of success in its three short years. Since December 2009, the physics-based puzzle game - which sees players fling birds from a slingshot at structures to take out pigs and rack up a high score - has seen more than a billion downloads across mobiles, online platforms and PC and Mac.

In a bid to make the brand the most "definitive casual entertainment globally", executive producer Kalle Kaivola explains that Angry Birds needs to be on all screens, including those in the living room. Surprisingly, the franchise has somehow bypassed the addition of traditional consoles, and so bringing it to systems such as Xbox 360, PS3 and 3DS makes it available to an even wider audience.

While only being announced earlier this year, Rovio has planned a console release since early 2011 when Angry Birds Rio first launched - a time when the buzz around the franchise became a deafening roar. Angry Birds Trilogy finally entered development last summer, and has seen release thanks to the help of two external studios - Super Stardust developer Housemarque and Oxford mobile studio Exient.

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile



New visuals, sounds and animations

When Rovio was ready to bring Angry Birds to consoles, it wanted a faithful experience well suited to the platform. The three games have each essentially been recreated in order to best suit a larger screen interface.

Early versions that simply transferred mobile levels to a television screen yielded disappointing results, with the birds and objects taking up far too much screen estate and the art looking worse for wear. Kaivola said the team managed to "get away with murder" on such small screens, and so Rovio set off on a "significant project" to help make the transition work.

The end result is that all artwork has been completely redrawn at a higher resolution, with added visual effects. The first stage, for example, now has swaying palm trees in the background and dandelions floating through the air. In action, the birds now have a splash of motion blur in flight, and on landing, more sparks fly as they collide with their targets.

Meanwhile, the basic interim animations between stages have been entirely redrawn as more elaborate cutscenes, and all audio has been re-recorded with a 5.1 surround sound set-up in mind. While it's all keeping within the original game's aesthetic, such work ensures that Angry Birds now really shines on a television.

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile



How Rovio brought Kinect to Angry Birds

The shift to consoles also paves the way for new control schemes. The most obvious for Xbox 360, PS3 and 3DS is the ability to aim birds using an analogue stick by pinging it back and pressing a button, providing a different, tactile feel than using touch interfaces did previously.

But perhaps the most interesting addition is support for motion controllers. PlayStation Move adds a cursor to the screen, and similar to touch input, allows you to pan around the stage before settling on the slingshot, aiming and pressing a button to fire. Kinect, meanwhile, is somewhat similar in that it also offers a cursor, but also adds additional physical motions.

Once you've aimed with your left hand and are ready to fire, raising your right hand up fires the bird across the stage, and lowering it again activates its unique action, such as dropping bombs or zipping across the screen.

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile



It was, of course, something that required vigorous prototyping. Working closely with Microsoft, Rovio was interested in opening and closing your hand for firing the birds, which Kinect was unable to detect properly and was a frustrating experience, ultimately settling on the current control scheme.

"Whenever there was a sacrifice to be made between precision of both the angle of the bird and the release of the bird, we always went with finer control," Kaivola explained.

The 3DS version also offers the benefits of direct touch with a stylus, and an exclusive new feature for StreetPass, where basic tunes can be composed and sent to other passing owners of the game. It also offers the same leaderboards and range of in-game achievements, and of course, the added benefit of stereoscopic 3D.

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile

'Angry Birds Trilogy' screenshot

© Activision / Rovio Mobile



Over 700 stages and all-new content

The elephant in the room is the difference in pricing - a bundle of three $1 games packaged into a £30 box - but Rovio argues that Angry Birds Trilogy is not only priced appropriately for the platform (each game was previously released on PC for £10 each, for example) but it's also cheaper than the majority of new retail releases and offers much more value.

There's no denying there's a staggering amount of content on offer; the three games have over 700 levels between them, which is estimated to take "30 hours to play through the whole thing" normally, and each individual stage offers their own Xbox Live and PSN leaderboard, a technical feat that was a "tough nut to crack", explains Kaivola.

For the especially dedicated, notching up three stages on everything will take over 100 hours, while one particular Achievement - clearing each stage with the Mighty Eagle at 100% - is expected to take a whopping 300 hours to complete.

There's also exclusive content; 19 brand new stages that are some of the franchise's most ambitious to date, using the wider screen estate to deviously cram in more structures and pigs, as well as bonus artwork, developer sketches and bird biographies.


Angry Birds Trilogy is being touted as the ultimate "collector's edition" for the franchise, and between its recreated visuals and vast amount of content - both exclusive and familiar - it's easy to see why.

The package's release this week is a pivotal moment for the studio. As this release pays homage to the three games that put the studio on the map, Rovio is also releasing its first Angry Birds spin-off, Bad Piggies on September 27. The new title is tipped to take the franchise in a new direction, and continues Angry Birds's seemingly unstoppable march for global entertainment dominance.

Angry Birds Trilogy is available on Xbox 360, PS3 and 3DS this week, on September 28 in Europe and September 25 in North America.

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