After enslaving most of the phone-owning public with its throw-a-bird-at-a-pig gameplay, Angry Birds has moved on to the world of movie tie-ins. Angry Birds Rio was launched alongside the Rio de Janeiro premiere of the family film Rio - a movie whose premise involves a bunch of birds kidnapped by poachers. The result is a partial sequel to Angry Birds that's been tailored to the film's storyline.
Gone are the pigs. We're in Brazil now and smugglers have captured the titular angry birds and the film's stars alike. The lot of you have been carted off to a tropical warehouse location where you are stuffed into cages and strategically placed between and on top of crates in a way that definitely breaks UK health and safety regulations.
The same pseudo-Rube Goldberg quality that helped to fuel the level design of Angry Birds is alive and well in Rio. The structure made of warehouse crates will wobble and sway, chains and lights hang from the piles of boxes and create swinging obstacles, and dynamite hangs precariously, creating a slight domino effect of destruction when hit by one of your birds.
But the game is largely unchanged, aside from a few minor and mostly superficial differences. Using a limited supply of birds, which vary in size and ability, you use them as slingshot fodder, flinging them into the pile of crates to crack open the boxes that house the stolen birds while trying to take out empty crates along the way for extra points.
After the opening warehouse stage you'll battle monkeys in the jungle, culminating in a boss battle with the film's main antagonist. Inflatable rubber rings, and later mushrooms, will litter the ground and give your feathered friends extra bounce along the way, but beyond these additions the game still has its legs firmly planted in the established formula of the original game as its seasonal expansion.
Overall it's a missed opportunity to provide an already working formula with new ideas. Rio exists as the fraternal twin of Angry Birds - basically the same but with a faintly different look. But the addictive quality is still very much alive. Each of the game's 60 levels comes with its own hidden fruit, star rating, and achievements which provide the carrot on Angry Bird's stick, tempting you back for replays, which should whet the palette of iPhone owners who've already sunk hours into the original. And with the promise of four new level packs to be released between now and November Rio isn't about to help you kick your old Angry Birds habit.