The Missing Game that Defined a Decade

Image Credit: Modified by Gerard Nifras

Gerard Nifras, Staff Writer

The Google Play Store has less of a selection today than it did ten years ago. Mobile games that survived since their late-2000 debut included Cut The Rope, Doodle Jump, Subway Surfers, and Fruit Ninja. However, one surpassed them all. The game is Angry Birds, the cornerstone of late 2000s games. Anyone who has played the original 2009 game will tell you that it is famous for the simple storyline, simple gameplay, and simply adorable characters. The main objective of the game is to use different birds with unique powers and a notorious slingshot to bombard castles of glass, wood, stone, and “TNT” to “pop” all the pigs commandeering them. Once doing so, the player clears the level and rescues the eggs. Its simplistic nature builds the foundation of its fan-favorite sequels, parodying genres such as space superheroes, Star Wars, a role-playing fantasy, and a downhill-race. In fact, the Angry Birds game series reached its peak in 2012, when downloads and merchandise were consumed at stupefying rates! All of this was achieved from only a few angry birds, hungry pigs, and three eggs.

While the first game received its peak recognition during its first installment, its influence exploded when its fanbase was inspired to expand the Angry Birds universe. Early 2011 was the height of YouTube and with it, the Angry Birds YouTube channel. Subsequently, the scope of these videos allowed sponsors such as NASA, during the Angry Birds Space era, and Lucasfilms, creator and distributor of Star Wars, to access a fraction of the Angry Birds’ success. On the matter of YouTube videos, making stories with popular Angry Birds plushes and a love for watching YouTube combine to account for the game’s popularity at the time. If you scour for Angry Birds plush videos on YouTube, the screen hypnotizes you into an endless stream of early 2010s nostalgia. Years later, this trend continued to grow despite the dormancy of the early games.

Prominent Angry Birds YouTubers captivated people into the Angry Birds fandom and created a chain reaction of emerging, aspiring YouTubers in the next generation. As one of these prominent YouTubers, I used the blank slate the Angry Birds games fabricated to make my own escapades and personalities for the famous birds and pigs. This excrapulated comments such as “you have inspired me to make my own videos” and “this video gave me goosebumps!” and grabbed attention from fresh eyes on the game’s behalf. To their credit, all Rovio Entertainment – the company who made the Angry Birds franchise – had to do to stir a decade was to make an open concept to fascinate millions with infinite possibilities for updates on games, new genres, and new YouTube videos and sponsors.

Given the herculean legacy of the original game, why was it removed from the app stores? Why did its significant sequels share the same fate? Nostalgic fans demanded answers and started a movement of protest with the hashtag #bringback2012, named after the original game’s peak influence. The movement reflected their distaste toward their current, bland copypasta games, and the removal of their classic favorites on the original game’s 10th anniversary. By copypasta, Rovio’s current games mimic the match-three-tile genre reminiscent of their original game’s rival, Candy Crush, while disregarding their slingshot-based games.

To add salt to the wound, a minority found the Angry Birds appearance’s in the movies and games appalling and disloyal to their original limb-less designs. Rovio Entertainment once responded to a curious, “why did you remove your old games?!” in their YouTube channel with, “Some games have been taken out of the app stores for test purposes.” This statement is easily disregarded when Rovio “hearted” a comment in another post that says, “this bringback2012 stuff is very annoying.” This gives birth to the speculation that Rovio didn’t agree with the nostalgic fans by removing the old games to force them to accept the copypastas. While the evidence is clear, this is merely circumstantial evidence. Afterwards, nothing more is said about the aforementioned “testing purposes” or the #bringback2012 movement. 

Regardless of the drama, Angry Birds has gained attention one way or another. It brings together ardent fans who enjoy the games and watch the videos and keeps their bonds strong in the face of a common enemy. It also helped people return to a simpler time without worry, responsibilities, and the contemporaneous virus. Truly, the original Angry Birds game defined the 2010 decade and its significance is potent even during its supposedly permanent absence.