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Mario Kart meets Angry Birds? What's Heikki?

With Rovio about to lauch racing-themed Angry Birds Heikki, a look at the potential design for a Angry Birds-themed karting. And a hope Rovio is now in the process of building a franchise that could rival Mario, starting with a Mario Kart!

Serge Versille, Blogger

May 25, 2012

4 Min Read

Rovio is about to launch Angry Birds Heikki, which is said to be just a F1-themed Angry Birds. I believe though that as some hope, it'll be a racing / go-karting game, as the Angry Birds franchise can go the way of the dodo or the way of Nintendo’s Mario. I very much hope for the latter. And for that to happen, it's time to diversify gameplay.

Angry Birds (shortened as AB in the following) is built around a fun toy, the slingshot, and in that sense building an AB game around a kart would make perfect sense. I adhere to the idea that a game is composed of gameplay, technology, aesthetics, and story (as popularized by Jesse Schell). In AB, aesthetics and story are preexisting to a large extent, so I’ll leave that aside, and focus instead on a fantasy design of an AB Karting game.


The AB family would probably need to increase its numbers so that 12+ significantly different characters can be chosen from and played, each with their distinctive balance of advantages and drawbacks. Huge leaf to take from Mario Kart’s playbook here. Racing is racing is racing, the recipy’s well known, but then comes competition and cooperation. I believe using modes allowing for two types of opponents, the other racers AND the evil pigs on the tracks, would allow to develop an innovative racing gameplay that is both competitive and would include some jubilatory coop.

So we’d have two players controlling a Kart:

  • one able to race and manage the track obstacles

  • one managing the attacking of others and pigs (slingshot aiming could be quite a satisfaction on moving targets but would need very good difficulty balancing)

  • some overlap and possibly some switching of places during the race

This would allow for a much more diversified playing experience, a deeply human  coop/compet fun combo, and switching would ensure each role doesn’t come to be felt as a frustrating limitation. This mechanism would then be simplified to allow single play through simpler but slightly less powerful controls so that one can easily the job of two, just not as well, and with adapted racing competition difficulty for the experience to remain engaging and satisfying.

Weapons, the sky is the limit, or basically the birds in it, there are some many things that can be thought of, and so fun, it would be pointless to list them here. Let’s just hope we see an ostrich giving fast running legs to a kart and stomping on others.

Also, there needs 2p combined drive-attack moves, some sort of mighty eagle manoeuver that just makes players weep with joy - and give them a booyah moment.


This coop/compet mode is well adapted to mobile/tablet play, the dream here would be that people accross devices Apple and Android devices, maybe through a unique player identifier. Coop could thus happen on the fly when people meet, or just by playing at home with the tablet / smartphones combos available (possibility of offline playing). It could also be location-based serendipitous pairing, or remote playing (that could mean tablets or computer and online playing). The Wii U with its tablet could also prove quite an interesting device for such diversified gameplay, as slingshoting on tablets remains to me the most intuitive and satisfying experience.

I’m not a huge fan of tilting stuff as a means of acceleration deceleration (too imprecise), and for turning it screws with screen orientation. Speed and direction could also be controlled via touch (maybe space between fingers, the narrower the faster, and widen to break so that going fast is a restful position). Such a space between fingers control mechanism could maybe also act as a virtual wheel, leaving the other hand (this is definitely tablet at this point), free to throw weapons in single play, or giving finer controls for driving.

The slingshot could evolve towards one that rotates so that the shooter in 2 person play has a strength + aiming fine control (aiming would mean here for critical hitting not for missing most of the time which would just be hugely frustrating to most), while in single player it remains a simpler no strength just aim throw. All these approaches might very well exist already, I’m not a mobile dev so I might have missed big chunks of what’s happening.

All right, enough fantasies, Rovio, please continue being elegant with your franchise, and make your birds become Marios!

This has been reblogged from my company blog www.flirtatiouslabs.com

Flirtatious Labs has no connection to Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, this is purely a friday fantasy of an Angry Birds Karting game. This article is in CC-by, meaning anyone willing to use any bit of this even for commercial purposes is welcome to do so. If someone at Rovio reads this and wants to use any part of it, you don’t owe me a thing, ideas are a dime a dozen. 

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