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Our furious feathered friends are back. It’s the new all-female Angry Birds case of Stella and her friends, as they reinvent the classic game of bubble shooters. And boy, Angry Birds Stella Pop is just as addictive and enjoyable as any Angry Birds game.
Hold On, It’s Just Another Bubble Shooter?
Yup, it is. But it’s the best one yet. Search for “bubble shoot” in the Play Store and you’ll see this:
That’s right, a huge list of games that follow the same formula. And let’s be honest, Rovio has followed the same formula, too. It’s natural to think, “Why should Angry Birds Stella Pop be any different?” The answer lies in the Angry Birds developer’s history.
If you didn’t already know this, Angry Birds wasn’t the first game of its kind. Flash games like Crush The Castle did the exact same thing long before Rovio ever got there. But Rovio paid attention to the details and got the small things right, which made it the biggest game on smartphones (and even on other, more traditional gaming platforms).
That same expertise is what makes Stella Pop stand out. It’s not the first game of its kind. It’s not reinventing the wheel. But it’s doing everything right, just like what the original Angry Birds did to make it so addictive.
What Makes Angry Birds Stella Pop Special
The basic formula is the same as any exciting bubble shooter game. There’s a chain of different coloured balls hanging from the top of the screen. At the bottom, you control a catapult with two different balls that you can switch between. Aim and shoot a ball upwards to create a chain of three balls of the same colour, and they’ll pop.
The actual physics of the game are impressive. Usually, bubble shooters don’t have finesse. You can’t finely control the aim of your catapult. It’s difficult to line up a shot and then hoister your catapult to change the ball. It’s the finer details. Not that those things are impossible, but these aren’t elements most developers spend too much time on. Rovio does, and as a result, you don’t blame the game for a mistake, you blame yourself. That’s a huge element in a game as simple as Stella Pop, and you won’t get frustrated with the game and stop playing it.
Generic bubble shooters also get boring very quickly. Stella Pop keeps introducing new elements every few levels, so it’s a refreshing experience.
There are five basic types of mini-games in Stella Pop:
- Drop the Pigs: Pigs are hiding in the maze of balls. Pop the balls so that the pigs fall down.
- Pop the Top: Pop six balls in the topmost line to win the game.
- Piggy in the Middle: Pop the balls around the floating pig in the middle of the screen to make him fall.
- Free the Critters: Critters are trapped in balls. Pop and free them all!
- Beat the Clock: You have 90 seconds to pop all the bubbles.
Each type of mini-game has either Stella or one of Stella’s friends as your mascot. If you start a streak of making a chain of three in every hit, the power meter will fill up and give you that mascot’s special ball. For example, Stella’s “Power Pop” explodes several balls together, while Willow’s “Splash Pop” will change all balls in an area into a single colour. Then there are special balls you can earn as you progress, like the “Rainbow Pop” which removes all balls of the colour it hits.
Angry Birds Stella Pop also introduces non-ball elements into the maze, like blocks of ice (which can be broken with one hit), blocks of wood (which can be broken with two hits), and stone blocks (which can’t be broken).
Finally, the villainous Gale will help the pigs out by casting a shadow on some balls on the screen, so you can’t see what colour they are till you hit them. Things get really challenging with that!
Free, But Difficult
Angry Birds Stella Pop follows the same formula as Candy Crush. You have a maximum of five lives, and if you lose them all, you have to wait for them to regenerate (you get one every half hour), beg your friends on Facebook to donate lives to you, or buy some more with real-world cash. Yes, it’s annoying, and if you hate this, you can instead check out some free-to-play games that are actually free.
Yup, in-app purchases are a big part of Angry Birds Stella Pop and I initially thought it would be impossible to play the game without them. (Word of advice: If you’re a parent, you might want to disable in-app purchases before your kid buys something without your knowledge.) However, a couple of days into Stella Pop, you’ll have discovered that the game isn’t as difficult as it seemed initially. Yes, you’ll lose lives, but if you’re patient, you’ll be able to play the game fully without spending a single penny.
The increasing difficulty of skill (and it gets really difficult later!) makes things frustrating, but honestly, that’s part of the fun of playing the game. You could cheat or buy your way out, but that’s only doing two things: giving Rovio money when you don’t need to, and robbing you of the satisfaction of accomplishing a difficult task.
Do yourself a favour: be patient, don’t look for the shortcut, and just play Angry Birds Stella Pop without putting any pressure on yourself. It’s addictive and enjoyable enough that you’ll be glad you took this ride.
Do You Beg or Pay for Extra Turns?
It started with Candy Crush, then several other games adopted it, and now Angry Birds Stella Pop is joining the bandwagon of “beg or pay for more turns”. We want to know, have you asked your friends for extra lives or shelled out real money to play a few more rounds of your favourite game?