capsule review

Tiny Wings 2 for iPhone and Tiny Wings HD for iPad

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Tiny Wings

  • Generic Company Place Holder Tiny Wings HD

The dirty secret of all the iOS games I test is that most disappear from my iPhone and iPad nearly instantly after I post my review. The good ones linger for a while longer, eventually giving way to the new games I have to test. But a handful of great ones stay on my iOS device permanently, and nothing short of a court order is ever going to get them off.

Tiny Wings is one of the great ones.

I first reviewed the side-scrolling game from Andreas Illiger in June 2011. That was some time after Tiny Wings had fluttered its way to the top of the App Store’s downloads chart, and even a dullard like me could see why: Simple controls, eye-catching graphics, and challenges that keep players coming back for more add up to make for a pretty addictive iPhone game.

Flight to the Finish: Both Tiny Wings 2 and Tiny Wings HD feature a new racing mode in which you try to reach one end of the island faster than your fellow birds.

If you had to lob a complaint against the original Tiny Wings release, in fact, it would be that the game only worked on the iPhone and iPod touch. iPad users, if they wanted in on the fun, had to send the small, bug-eyed hero of Tiny Wings hurtling across their tablet’s screen in iPhone compatibility mode—an inelegant solution for such a cleverly designed game.

That’s changed with a recent spate of releases from Illiger. First, he updated the original Tiny Wings to version 2.0, introducing a new gameplay mode and improved graphics if you run the app on an iPhone or iPod touch with a Retina display. In addition, Illiger also rolled out Tiny Wings HD, which delivers Tiny Wings 2’s gameplay modes to the iPad, along with a third multiplayer mode tailored to take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen.

Both editions of Tiny Wings—the update and the new iPad release—play the same as the outstanding original. In the original game mode—now called Day Trip—you control a gravity-challenged bird trying to jump from island to island before the sun can set. The idea is that you tap and hold on the screen to make your bird slide down the hills on those colorful islands and build up momentum for big jumps. Time everything right, and your bird can get some serious air; mistap, and your momentum comes to a grinding halt. As before, mini-challenges like collecting a certain number of coins or reaching a particular island boost your multiplier and keep the gameplay fresh. The new versions of Tiny Wings also retain the procedurally generated graphics of the original, so that the islands have a fresh, new look each day.

In the new Flight School mode introduced to both the iPhone and iPad versions of Tiny Wings, your little bird has given birth to four offspring, and they’re learning to take flight in their own right. You pick one of the birds and race against your three siblings over a single island course. Finish in the top three, and you get a tasty fish from mama; more important, you unlock a new race course. Finish dead last, though, and it’s back to the starting line for you.

In many ways, the island courses in the Flight School mode are a lot more challenging than what you’ll come across in the Day Trip game. The slopes are less pronounced and there are water hazards that will cause you little bird to sink like a stone and lose valuable time. (There are also flowers you can bounce off to regain lost momentum.) Currently, Flight School features three islands with five courses each, providing plenty of replayability. Tiny Wings also tracks your time and what place you finish in on each course, giving you plenty of incentive to come back and replay courses you’ve conquered. Because the game makes great use of iOS’s Game Center, your scores and times are synced between your iPhone and iPad—a really welcome feature if you happen to own multiple iOS devices.

Double Vision: Tiny Wings HD adds multiplayer functionality by splitting the screen in two, giving players control of their side of the screen in head-to-head races.

Tiny Wings HD players get a third game mode all their own. It’s called Hill Party, and it allows you to race against another player on a single iPad. Tiny Wings HD makes clever use of the iPad’s screen space for this, dividing the screen in two for head-to-head competitions in which each player can tap and release on their own side of the screen. Again, multiple game modes—one in which you battle your opponent to reach 1000 points first and another in which you try to earn the highest score over a five-island race—keep the racing mode fresh. Some gamers may be disappointed that Tiny Wings HD’s multiplayer mode doesn’t allow you to compete with someone over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but I found the Hill Party mode to be a nice way of incorporating other players without taxing performance.

Both Tiny Wings 2 and Tiny Wings HD offer everything you loved about the original version of the game, alongside additional features—a lot more features in the case of the iPad version. If you downloaded the original only to let it fall by the wayside, now’s the time to bump Tiny Wings back to a more prominent place on your iPhone or iPod touch. And if you own iPad, this is the opportunity for you to join in on the fun.

[Philip Michaels is the editor of Macworld.com.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Tiny Wings

  • Generic Company Place Holder Tiny Wings HD

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