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Angry Birds Space to blast off with NASA

Rovio Mobile has partnered with NASA to launch the next version of its popular strategy puzzle game: Angry Birds Space. (Rovio)
February 21, 2012 – Heads-up universe, a flock of furious feathered fighters is coming your way.

Having conquered Earth – or at least its mobile and social networks – Angry Birds is launching into outer space with the latest version of Rovio Mobile's popular strategy puzzle game.

"Angry Birds Space" will blast off on March 22 with NASA along for the ride. The space agency seems to have even inspired the game, appropriately enough through a tweet.

"We might be able to help you launch birds if you find pigs in space," NASA wrote Rovio on Twitter in March 2011.

"Sounds good!" the Finnish game developer said in reply. "It might happen in the not too distant future..."

Less than a year later and with a Space Act Agreement in hand, Rovio and NASA are now counting down to a cross platform launch that Rovio says will go where no mobile game has gone before.

"We'll launch simultaneously in mobile gaming, animation, retail and publishing," Rovio stated. "Not only is this a first for us as an integrated entertainment company, but the first time this has ever been done for a mobile game!"

Slinging into space

The Angry Birds Space website and video teaser released on Feb. 17 doesn't offer a lot of information yet, other than the release date and the Neil Armstrong-inspired slogan, "One small fling for a bird, one quantum leap for birdkind."

One small fling for a bird, one quantum leap for birdkind. (Rovio)
A graphic on the site shows a slingshot firmly planted on the moon. In the original Angry Birds, and in its follow-on versions Seasons and Rio, players use a similar slingshot to launch a flock of multi-colored birds at hungry green pigs, knocking over wood, stone and ice structures in the process.

Rovio said it would release more details about Angry Birds Space in early March but shared with Yahoo! Games that the game would introduce some new types of birds while bringing back some from the earlier games now enhanced with "super powers."

"You'll be lobbing birds on entirely new planets," Yahoo! Games Ben Silverman wrote, adding that players will have to contend with zero gravity and new gameplay elements such as slow-motion puzzles and "lightspeed" destruction.

Andrew Stalbow with Rovio North America told Silverman that the Angry Birds Space environments would continue to employ real physics, lending an educational component to the game.

"Science and education are very important to us, and we are very excited to have NASA and National Geographic as launch partners on Angry Birds Space," Stalbow said.

For its part, the space agency is "excited to see elements of space exploration and science integrated into play," a NASA spokesman told collectSPACE.

Angry Birds Space: The prequels

Angry Birds Space will not be the first time however, that Angry Birds has ventured into space — in the game or in real life.

A stuffed toy doll of a red bird from the mobile game Angry Birds hangs inside Soyuz TMA-22 as a "zero-g indicator." (NASA TV)
Last year, Rovio added two levels to Angry Birds Seasons with a space theme. One was a bonus level that was only unlocked after players found golden eggs, but the other, Level 1-17 of "Summer Pignic," featured an Apollo-style lunar module and lunar rover, as well as decreased gravity slowing the rate at which the birds fell to the ground.

Released on July 8, 2011, the special moon landing level was timed so it coincided with NASA's last space shuttle mission, which lifted off the same day. Representatives from Rovio came to the launch as guests of NASA.

Several months later, a plush Angry Bird doll flew in real life to the International Space Station on board a Russian rocket. The small, stuffed toy red bird launched with two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut, continuing a Russian tradition of flying small toys as "zero-g indicators."

Picked out by the commander's five-year-old daughter, the Angry Bird doll signaled to the launching crew that they have made it to space when it started to float inside the spacecraft's cabin.

The plush Angry Bird and its crewmates will still be on the station when Angry Birds Space is released on March 22.

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Angry Birds Space - Teaser
Video credit: Rovio Mobile