Angry Birds, the game app that has taken the world by storm, is now available in a board game called Angry Birds: Knock on Wood. The basic concept is the same: Greedy green pigs have stolen the birds' eggs, so to exact revenge the birds must launch themselves at the pigs to knock them over. Meant for players age 5 and older (due to the number of small parts, it is not recommended for children under 3) the game comes with rubberized versions of three of the angry birds, four plastic pigs, and some plastic building blocks used to create the pigs' various structures.
A deck of mission cards shows pictures of structures to be built and where to place the pigs. There are four levels of difficulty, and each mission is worth points (the higher the level, the more points you score). Using the birds shown on the card, you launch them at the structure using a plastic catapult, aiming to knock over all the pigs. If your mission is successful, you collect the points on the card, and the first player to collect 1,000 points is the winner.
Much like the app it's based on, many reviewers say that Angry Birds Knock on Wood is fun to play. The game is flexible, so while some players enjoy meticulously creating the structures on the mission cards, others can use the game pieces however they like for freestyle play. A typical sentiment from someone who liked the game a lot reads like this Amazon user's feedback: "While Angry Birds is very fun in its original format, it's as much if not more fun when played in a more physical form! I love flinging tiny birds at blocks and pigs." Reviews indicate that younger children get a genuine kick out of playing.
There's no shortage of issues brought up by owners, however, even in reviews that are generally positive. One common theme is that the catapult -- an essential component of the game -- is stiff and inaccurate. "The biggest downfall of the game is the launcher, and its lack of consistency. There is no skill involved with the game, and the wide variance from one shot to the next actually makes it frustrating to play."
Many users note that the game pieces have a tendency to scatter, and they suggest either setting up the game in an enclosed area or being prepared to chase after the pieces following each turn. One owner posting to Amazon.com says it's important to be vigilant about keeping track of the parts because a couple of missing pieces can make it impossible to build a structure as shown on one of the game cards (for freestyle play, which a lot of owners say their kids prefer, this is probably not as big a deal.)
Only three of the birds are used, and they don't have the special characteristics their digital counterpoints possess -- no explosive birds here. And as is pointed out in user reviews, even though the three included birds are sized and weighted differently, how they perform is basically random, due to the spotty consistency of the launcher. The game is also devoid of sound effects, so be prepared to insert your own squawking bird and snickering pig noises.
Adults reviewers have some legitimate complaints about Angry Birds: Knock on Wood, but kids -- especially younger ones -- seem to enjoy the fine art of setting things up just to knock them back down. For them, it's a win. Older players, on the other hand, might be better off sticking with the app that spawned this kids' game in the first place.
More than 75 customers review Angry Birds Knock on Wood on Amazon.com, and an overwhelming majority gives it a 4- or 5-star rating. Most reviewers say they are parents who bought the game either for children who are too young to play the smartphone version or older children they don't want spending too much time on computer games. While most kids enjoy playing the game, parents suggest having them play in an enclosed space, as the pieces have a tendency to roll away and need retrieving after each launch. A few reviewers are disappointed that the game only includes three of the bird characters and that they don't have specific characteristics like the birds in the app game. Most of the reviews say that kids enjoy playing the game and find it easy to learn, but a few find the constant restacking of the pieces to be tedious.
Review: Angry Birds: Knock On Wood Game, Contributors to Amazon.com
More than 10 customers review Angry Birds Knock on Wood on ToysRUs.com, and most give it at least a 4-star rating, with over 90 percent saying they would recommend the game to others. Most find it to be a fun game to play with kids, whether following the instructions on the cards or just randomly building and knocking down structures. A couple of reviewers note that the catapult can be a bit challenging to use and takes some practice to become adept with.
Review: Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game, Contributors to ToysRUs.com
Jonathan Liu, who writes for the GeekDad blog on Wired.com, reviews Angry Birds Knock on Wood after trying it out with his kids. Both adults and kids find the game as addicting as the original app game, and they kids particularly enjoy meticulously setting up each mission to look exactly as it does on the card. Liu says the catapult can be difficult to hold, though that adds to the challenge of the game. He also likes how the pieces can be used as regular toys when the kids grow tired of playing the game.
Review: Angry Birds: Knock on Wood Is Ridiculously Fun, Jonathan Liu, Nov. 15, 2011
4. The Charlotte Observer
A freelance writer for The Charlotte Observer, Kiran Dodeja Smith reviews Angry Birds Knock on Wood as a possible holiday gift idea. She finds the game to be fun and obsessive like the smartphone version, but she warns of how easily the pieces tend to scatter. Dodeja particularly likes how the game can inspire creativity with freestyle building and destruction.
Review: Gift No. 1: Angry Birds Knock on Wood, Kiran Dodeja Smith, Nov. 9, 2011