Why Tiny Wings Is My Favorite Mobile Game Right Now


Coco Bradford, Editor

Mobile game development is a fascinating form of media, and it has evolved so much over time. The vast variety of art and game style amazes me, and it just keeps getting more and more vast. Among the expansive world of mobile games lies one of my favorites, Tiny Wings, made by Andreas Illiger. It has been out for 11 years, and it was one of the first mobile games I really loved when my parents let me on an iPad. As I have grown up, I grew out of a lot of the games I used to play. However, Tiny Wings stuck with me because of its simplicity and replay-ability.

Over the last two years, returning from COVID, I have gotten back into mobile games. As I have done this, I have been evaluating which games are better than others, and in what ways. The art in each game is an important factor for me because of how it impacts my visual enjoyment of a game. Of course, the game also needs to have gameplay that I enjoy. Gameplay can be evaluated on two scales, I believe. Good gameplay for a mobile game includes something that (1) can be played for a long time, and (2) still provides a dynamic experience for the player. Tiny Wings does both of these quite well.

The gameplay of Tiny Wings involves tapping and holding on the screen to help a bird soar through the air. The bird has tiny wings, which is why it cannot fly well on its own. The player taps and holds on the downhills and releases on the uphill to help the bird gain momentum and use it. There are two versions of gameplay: a free-play mode, called Day Trip, and a mode with levels, called Flight School.
Day Trip is the more relaxed version: it has no constricting time limits; the trip just ends when the sun in the game goes down, which takes some time. It follows the bird, which the player gets to name, traveling from island to island, each one concluding at a giant hill. There are objectives that, if completed, increase your score multiplier, but they aren’t the main focus. The islands change terrain each day.
(day trip picture here, courtesy of andreas illiger)
The levels version follows the four children of the bird from Day Trip as they travel from one side of an island to the other to get their dinner. The first one finished gets the biggest fish for dinner, and the others get smaller ones in descending order. The level is passed if the player finishes first, second, or third. A player can choose which bird to play as: Owell, Peli, Peck, or Flami. Each bird has its own save file of progress on the app, so one can play as any of them at any time and have different progress. There are six total island clusters in this mode, and each cluster has five “islands,” or levels.
(flight school picture here, courtesy of andreas illiger)

The thing that really makes this game stand out is its art. The islands in free-play change each day, with different color patterns and designs across all islands. Its serene and calming art style brings me joy every time, and that is the main reason why I keep coming back to it after so long. The art makes me feel comfortable and warm, and that feeling, along with the chillness of the game, makes it the appealing game it is.