Angry Birds is one of the most popular games to come out of 2010 for touchscreen iPhone and Nokia devices. In the Rovio Mobile game, greedy pigs have stolen the birds’ eggs. You win them back by shooting birds with different special powers to bring down structures and crush the pigs. It’s simple, cute and highly addictive.
Over the summer, game producer Rovio Mobile released an ad-supported version for Android devices. The game comes close to being too much for the entry-level Huawei U8100, the first of three Android phones offered by WIND Mobile. A big hitch seems to be the U8100’s 320×240 QVGA compact screen size and low-end CPU. But with a few tricks and some patience, you can get it to work fairly smoothly.When you first run the game, your screen will likely blank out for a few seconds, up to a minute. This is ok, you want to let the phone go into its sleep mode. If your device is having a good day or if you interrupt it, you might see the screen change to a messed up intro with birds just offscreen before the phone goes idle. Push the power button once to put the phone in sleep mode. Next, after a few seconds, touch the screen or push a button to wake up the phone and unlock. You should be looking at a proper intro now! Press play and enjoy.
You’ll notice it’s pretty slow once you get a few levels into it, when there are more sprites on the screen. In fact it’ll get pretty close to unplayable sometimes, and the phone might even sleep between shots if you don’t interrupt it first. Well, there’s something you can do about that too.Download an app called ES Task Manager, available for free in the Android Market or from developer EStrongs‘ website. This handy app allows you to kill applications running in the background, including some system apps that run constantly and eat up precious RAM and CPU cycles. Even better, it comes with a launcher widget, which you can install on your phone’s main page and kill all running tasks with a single button push. Don’t worry, system-critical processes restart themselves instantly, and your background-updating programs (like Twitter) will come back too, but this is handy for killing apps like Servo Search that just takes up RAM, and other services that come on at startup that you never use. If you run the task killer right before you start the process of loading up Angry Birds, you’ll find it much smoother.
Another tip: when each level loads, all of the sprites will move around a bit, taking up CPU time. If you wait a few seconds until your birds jump up and down smoothly before you fire your first shot, the game will run more smoothly. The game also gets hung up sometimes waiting for something to stop moving onscreen. If this happens, touch the screen once, and the game moves the view so you can fire your next bird.
After you get through some grief to get it working smoothly on your phone, Angry Birds is a fun and addictive game that you’ll no doubt spend hours playing. Just remember to put it down once in a while and talk to your loved ones!
UPDATE, 23 Feb 2011
A little more than a month ago, I downloaded the new firmware upgrade [PDF] from WIND Mobile’s website and installed it on my Huawei. The upgrade process wipes your phone’s contacts, settings, and installed applications, meaning I had to re-download everything I had installed. After the upgrade, Angry Birds is not available to install from the Android Market – it says it’s not compatible. But Angry Birds Seasons will install just fine, for some reason. In fact, Seasons now loads fine without the trick mentioned above!
UPDATE, 27 Mar 2011
About two weeks after posting the last update, Angry Birds showed up again in the Android Market under applications compatibley with my phone. It works again, but again only with the trick noted above.