The night is darkest just before the dawn.
One of the coolest things about flying, aside from smelling mystery farts, involves going from night to daytime, as the plane switches time zones, leaving the darkness behind. That's the premise behind Tiny Wings, a wonderful App from independent developer Andreas Illiger that's managed to unseat Angry Birds as the number one paid iPhone game. Yeah, it's a big deal.
This attractive and immensely entertaining game challenges you to outrun the creeping dark as a tiny bird that has trouble flying (hence the title). To keep the little guy moving, you must press and hold the screen to build momentum, then release at the right moment to send him soaring through the air.
Success involves pressing the screen as he slides down a hill and then letting go right before your feathered friend travels upwards. It takes a few minutes to get used to, and the icon at the bottom left corner that displays the time of day only makes the game more intense.
That said, Illiger did an excellent job with the controls and presentation. You always know the time of day based on the color of the sky. What's more, the game procedurally generates levels, which makes the experience new every time you play. Factor in online leaderboards and 27 in-game Achievements, and there's a lot to love.
In addition, the art style is a sweet mix of colors, expertly shaded to produce one of the more attractive 2-D games on the iPhone; we're also huge fans of the relaxing music.
Even better, Tiny Wings runs smoothly across all devices, meaning everyone can enjoy the game without having to upgrade.
Minor improvements would make the game even better (Game Center support, an iPad version), but for the most part, Tiny Wings is without question one of the more refreshing experiences on the App Store. It just goes to show that sometimes, it's the simplest of concepts that make a hit.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later.
What's Hot: Super addictive, excellent controls, in-game achievements, leaderboard support, only $0.99.
What's Not: No universal support.