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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

Opinion: There's no one quite as angry as an Angry Birds hater

Miyamoto was on the money
Product: Angry Birds | Developer: Rovio | Genre: Casual
 
Angry Birds Multiformat, thumbnail 1
For Nintendo fans, April 12th, 2012, will go down as a black page in the company's history. A dark day, never to be spoken of again. A day to be contemplated during quiet, solemn moments - no doubt through floods of tears.

That's because April 12th, 2012, was the day that Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto revealed to the world that he quite likes Angry Birds.

He thinks it's not half bad. He doesn't love it, adore it, or ritually worship it - he just thinks it's pretty decent. In fact, to quote Hookshot Inc., he "very much enjoyed" playing it.

Little could he have known that the Nintendo empire would come crashing down with those words. The gaming giant's epitaph would be a simple token of affection for Angry Birds. Or, at least, that's what many internet commenters would have you believe.

Praise indeed

Miyamoto's comments were in fact quite innocent. "There aren't many games that I've played recently that have been truly convincing to me. But that said, I have very much enjoyed Angry Birds, especially the way in which it combines traditional and new game elements in exciting ways," he opined.

"Angry Birds is a very simple idea but it's one of those games that I immediately appreciated when I first started playing, before wishing that I had been the one to come up with the idea first."

Nintendo fans across message boards, Twitter, and other social media were alarmed. Perhaps he'd been misquoted? Maybe he was being sarcastic? Was there some kind of hidden message behind it all? Maybe he'd been kidnapped by aliens the night before and brainwashed into liking this most evil of apps?

I'm exaggerating a little, but the general response from Nintendo fans to Miyamoto's comments was anything but measured. To put it simply: people were incensed.

angry-birds-opinion-mario

Monkey madness

The reason many were so shaken by Miyamoto's endorsement of Angry Birds was, I think, because fans have often used his library of mega-hits to help distinguish between games that were popular on account of their being well designed, and games that were popular on account of their appealing to 'idiots'.

Angry Birds, it was argued, was able to reach out to the masses because it's easy to grasp, because there's never been any depth to it. In fact, I've been told on numerous occasions that a "monkey could complete it".

(I've never checked whether those making such accusations have seen their theory through to its inevitable primate poo-flinging conclusion).

In contrast, Miyamoto's games are both simple to pick up and have substance. No monkey could play Mario, they say, and on that score they're most definitely right. So, with the man behind such video gaming delights saying that Angry Birds is not to be dismissed, the flock of Yellow Bird haters risked having their argument undermined. So, they panicked.

Easy does it

Now, I'm not a massive Miyamoto fanboy myself, but I do think his fanbase should cut him some slack with this particular 'revelation'.

In my view, most of the sentiment levelled against Angry Birds stems from pure snobbery. I've had people tell me "it's not a game" or that it's "entirely down to luck".

But, anyone who has played through any of the Angry Birds games to their latter stages will know that luck plays very little part when you're trying to pick up a three-star rating with just one or two birds as ammunition. When the play heats up, Angry Birds becomes precision defined, and any 'lucky demolitions' you were party to in the early rounds become a distant memory.

Luck is undoubtedly a factor at the start. That's something that hooks in many newcomers - people will know how to play within an instant, and this gives them a chance to be rewarded even if their skill set isn't up to much.

angry-birds-opinion-birds

It's a smart way that Rovio - and plenty of others - has chosen to engage its audience, hoping they'll eventually learn the game's trickier mechanics and stay on board even when the difficulty level ramps up.

I've seen it in action, too. My mother - someone who barely tolerated video games during my younger years - now owns a tablet that she uses to play Angry Birds on for several hours a week (and she's well past the luck-based early levels). In her own way, she's become a gamer, and I think that's a little bit brilliant. It's something we should be celebrating rather than bemoaning.

And I'd say Miyamoto agrees, too, given that reaching out to a wide audience is something he's done with scores of games throughout his career - and is focusing on with ultra-accessible games like Wii Music and Nintendogs.

So, put aside your snobbery, I say. Whether or not you like Angry Birds personally, millions of others do. Plus, a large portion of those wouldn't have looked twice at a video game before. I dare say that's a feat even Mario would be proud of.
 

Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew 17 April 2012
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Joined:
Feb 2012
Post count:
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Axe99 | 22:58 - 18 April 2012
Aye, but Ninty fans are very defensive about their games these days, particularly given that Ninty's design teams are stuck in the late 1990s/early 2000s. More broadly, I don't think gamers who play more complex games hate Angry Birds, per se, but find it a little strange how a 'pick-up-and-play minigame' has got such critical appeal. There have been games of similar style, complexity and quality of Angry Birds for literally decades. Of course, what it probably really means is all this fuss about one of these style of games now is because of a far wider audience suddenly discovering gaming (often after snobbing consoles and PC platforms, outside of Farmville and its ilk) and because tablets and phones are different enough from traditional gaming platforms they've let down their emotional barrier to gaming (defined by them as traditional gaming on PC/console) and allowed themselves to become excited about it.

It's a good thing, but that the phenomenon exists in the first place highlights the irrational emotional behavior of both sides of the gaming fence ;).
Joined:
Apr 2012
Post count:
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Kamille | 16:55 - 17 April 2012
I really don't get why we should care about other people liking games like Angry Birds or not. Is not like they'll be playing Metal Gear or Halo any time soon... If ever... Beside, a gamer is anybody that play games. Any kind of game.
Joined:
Apr 2012
Post count:
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CheekyLee | 16:23 - 17 April 2012
Snobbery! That is exactly the word I use to describe this idea that seems to pervade where so many dismiss the title as "Not a real game, only a hit because it is cheap" or "Everyone is buying it because everyone else is", when it is actually a hit because those who picked it up early on were enamoured enough with it to show it to others, and they went on and did the same. Angry Birds is a success story, and we should really be celebrating how well it has done instead of sneering because it didn't do it with polygons and a deep story.
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