When we didn’t hear from Microsoft about an Xbox Windows Phone release this week, we feared that there wouldn’t a new game today. It turns out that we should have had faith, because a new release did quietly slip out, and it’s an interesting one!
Following on the heels of their early April release, Amazing Alex, Rovio now breaks in the month of May with the game that started their rise to fame: Angry Birds. We’re not talking about a new Angry Birds sequel or the oft-requested spin-off Bad Piggies. No, a Windows Phone 8-exclusive version of the original Angry Birds (now called Angry Birds Classic) has just arrived with all the content missing from its unloved Windows Phone 7 predecessor. Windows Phone 7 gets a new, updated version as well but without the Xbox features. And best of all, both versions are free until May 15!
The road to the return
The WP8 title screen's video link doesn't jump straight to video playback like it should...
The story of how and why we have two distinct Xbox Windows Phone versions of Angry Birds is long and sordid, filled with the tears of many an early adopter. Basically, the first game launched on Windows Phone 7 way back in June of 2011. It didn’t take us long to realize that version was missing a whopping 105 levels compared to the iOS and Android versions at that time. An update followed in July which added those levels in, bringing the game up to Episode 5: Hang ‘Em High.
Problem is, Rovio never updated it again! While the iOS and Android games have enjoyed level pack after level pack since 2011, Windows Phone 7 owners were left relatively high and especially dry.
We sort of thought Rovio had given up on Microsoft’s mobile platforms for a while. Then both Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars launched with Windows Phone 8 in early November 2012! Heck, for an uncomfortably long stretch of time they were the ONLY Windows Phone 8-exclusive Xbox games.
Windows Phone 7 users initially felt left out, but Rovio published non-Xbox versions for the legacy OS a month later. Angry Birds Seasons, a slightly older sequel, popped up with Xbox features on Windows Phone 8 and without them on Windows Phone 7 in February of this year. Amazing Alex also saw a non-Xbox Windows Phone 7 game shortly after its big brother version.
Full circle at last
Having taken you through that trip back in time, we finally return to the present (and not a dark version of it that was ruined by a cheating gambler!)...
Rovio obviously has a Windows Phone 8 engine that they enjoy working with. That engine has finally allowed them to give Windows Phone users a proper, non-gimped version of the very first Angry Birds. This new port contains all the content of the old one, plus:
- Episode 6: Mine and Dine
- Episode 7: Birdday Party
- Episode 8: Bad Piggies (note this is not the actual Bad Piggies game)
- Bonus Episode: Surf and Turf
That makes it up to date with other platforms, which were last updated on March 7, 2013. Feels good to be caught up, doesn’t it?
This version also has 200 GamerScore of completely different Achievements from the old version, so owners of the previous iteration can potentially earn 400 GamerScore from playing through them both. You’ll be glad to know there’s no Achievement for smashing 250,000 blocks on Windows Phone 8! But it does have one for playing for 30 hours, so I guess we can’t escape the grinding. At least this one has the full plate of content to support that hefty chunk of playtime!
Get it while it’s hot
Surf and Turf and Birdday Party
Angry Birds (the first) is a 19 MB download on Windows Phone 8. And it’s FREE through May 15, so don’t wait to grab it! After that time its price will rocket up to 99 cents, just like other games in the series. Grab it here from the Windows Phone Store.
Update: New for Windows Phone 7 too!
Don't feel left out, Windows Phone 7 users. Rovio has pulled the old, outdated version of the original Angry Birds form the Store. In its place is a new version complete with all the content described in this article! The only downside is the new Windows Phone 7 game lacks Xbox Live functionality, just as with Angry Birds Space, Star Wars, and Seasons. But hey, it's got way more levels than before and it's free through May 15 as well!
Get Angry Birds for Windows Phone 7 here.