In Angry Birds Stella a giggly gaggle of genius girl birds defend their island from a former-friend-turned-"Bad Princess" and her pugnacious pigs. With animated stories interspersed among the 120 levels, you'll dive (bomb) right into creative obstacles, with instructions to help you discover the special power of each character.
With your help, Stella will take aim and angle herself to agitate the pesky pigs, Poppy will drill down in a dizzying display, Luca will break the ice with her shrill song-waves, Willow will whirl wildly to whack structures, and Dahlia will charge up and blast down pigs with laser-beam focus. Expect the usual big challenges and tiny details from the Angry Birds empire, along with lots of opportunities to buy into the fun -- literally.
How To Play
The gameplay in Angry Birds Stella builds on previous versions of Angry Birds apps, challenging players to slingshot Stella and her friends as projectiles to bombard structures hiding the enemy pigs. Players start with the slingshot motion, then tap and hold to activate the special power of each character. Timing, strategy, aim, and physics will all be important to success. Players have the potential to earn the requisite three stars per level, and in later levels the number of birds/lives they have will be partly determined by how many stars they've accumulated, which in turn affects the number of stars they earn. This makes earning all three stars very important for accessing later levels. Players will also collect coins, which can be spent on special features and extra birds. Angry Birds Stella integrates with telepods -- dolls with special mounting adaptors that you can buy from toy stores -- to teleport characters into the game.
What Makes It Good?
Angry Birds Stella has the great game play we've come to expect from Rovio: perplexing physics puzzles that require strategic use of limited resources, all with entertaining elements. How can you not love an avian female scientist who dances on her ears when she's victorious? True, the baby bird's song-waves are reminiscent of a young girl's shriek, and become just as tiresome. But the characters are still great fun, and it's exciting to discover their skills and celebrate together when they win. The instructions are pretty clear, and the more than 120(!) levels increase with just the right amount of difficulty. Also, the ability to hold to time the release or direction of your character's power is challenging to master at first, but ultimately lets you make more targeted approaches.
BUT, Pull to Spend Money is Strong
Angry Birds Stella is an app created for the public at large and not specifically for kids. Thus, it is a free app that makes its money through in-app purchases. Parents need to be aware that the in-app purchases range from $1.99 to a whopping $54.99! They also need to know that ads for other apps appear throughout the game, as well as links to social media (such as Facebook) and other external sites. And Angry Birds Stella links to Game Center, which means kids can communicate with strangers.
Angry Birds Stella is challenging and clever enough that most kids will be very tempted, if not practically compelled, to make in-app purchases. The app uses every trick in the business book to entice players to spend your play coins -- even providing a discount for an extra bird at the end of a level you're about to lose...and a countdown timer! Quick, buy now! Similarly, after every 10 levels, players have to wait an hour or more before they can play the final level in that round...or they can just spend a little money to "playrightnow," or watch an advertising video.
With so many reasons to spend the virtual coins, the play purse quickly empties, which makes purchasing more coins with REAL money pretty tempting. Plus, the puzzles in Angry Birds Stella are difficult enough that most kids will need some extra help at some point in the game. In later levels, the number of birds/lives they have is partly determined by how many stars they've acquired on previous levels, making it more difficult to win and more tempting to spend.
For Angry Birds masters who thrive on racking up the stars, this is a virtuous cycle -- for the rest of us, not so much. The game even has an adorable photo album, which slowly fills up with cute character photos as your stars increase. This is yet another reason kids might want to spend real money for more coins.
Angry Birds Stella is best for kids who can enjoy the challenge of solving the puzzles (and waiting out the dark clouds) without spending money. Resisting the temptation to throw money at the problem is great practice not only for freemium games, but also for life! We love that gamers can now enjoy Angry Birds gameplay with an all-female flock.
This Angry Birds Stella app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.