This is the rhythm of Tiny Wings once you learn how to play the game and hit your stride. It might be another casual game featuring birds that’s taken over the app store, but with similar immediacy and ignore-your-partner-until-you-beat-your-high-score addictive gameplay, it’s at the top of the charts on merit.
The world of Tiny Wings is set out as a series of hills which you slide down to propel yourself through the air. The simple one touch control scheme at first seems to give you little control, but after a few minutes of play you realise that it’s a perfect, subtle system. Touching the screen causes your painfully cute avatar to tuck in his “Tiny Wings” and accelerate. At the most basic level, you hold the screen going downhill to speed up and let go when you’re going uphill so he flaps his way to the top.
As you refine your jumps and come to understand the controls though you realise that the goal is to never have to climb hills. By touching the screen while you’re in the air you can dive-bomb downwards. Do this at the right moment and you can dive into a valley and rocket up the hill to get even higher. The goal then is to keep this chain up, swooping and diving downwards only to slingshot yourself ever higher with ever loader shouts of “Whooooppppeeeeee” coming from your happy little avian friend. Once you learn to do this the whole experience becomes fantastically compulsive as you try to rocket ever further through the level, jumping from Island to island and trying to progress as far as you can before the sun goes down. Little miniature sun coins push back the sunset and add an extra layer to deepen the gameplay.
The whole thing is wrapped up in a cheery world that’s reminiscent of Mario 3, albeit with more of a pastel shade to everything. Neat little touches abound like one-off challenges and changing colour palettes based on the day you play the game.
Tiny Wings is one of those games that’s almost impossible to fault. It achieves every goal it sets itself. Bright, cheery, compulsive, cheap (59p/79c) and immediate; it’s the product of a brilliantly talented single games designer. Andreas Illiger has shown that something that is perfectly tuned and crafted can be made by just one person. Millions of hours of focus testing and market research could add nothing to this game, except maybe perks and unlockable kill streaks. Hopefully those won’t be in the next update.
9 adorable avians out of 10