Life tends to have its highs and lows, ups and downs, and a rapidly setting sun that you must try to outrun at all costs.

This zen-like concept seems to be the inspiration for Tiny Wings, a casual game for iDevices that features a little bird with a pair of titular “Tiny Wings” as our hero of the day.

Where to begin?

Let me just get this out of the way first: Tiny Wings is truly the ideal mobile game. It has a pick up and play quality that many games lately have been forgetting in an effort to offer users a console or PC style experience. While that may be what some people are looking for, it usually is the simple pick up and play games that leave a lasting impression and keep you coming back when you have a moment to spare. Look at games like Bejeweled, Cut The Rope, Angry Birds, Canabalt, Tetris, and many others. They offer a simple, yet refined experience designed to keep you coming back if even for a few minutes at a time. Tiny Wings nests comfortably in this category and doesn’t stray from what it is meant to do, which is entertain in small bursts.

Upon launch, Tiny Wings immediately grabs your attention with lush visuals and wonderful colors that make up this tiny bird’s unreasonably bumpy island-based universe, and an imperative to “Touch for sunrise”. Once you figure out this deviously cryptic instruction, your tiny bird awakens from his nest and begins his adventure. He spends his time flapping his minuscule wings automatically, and tapping the screen makes him dive to the ground. Quickly you realize that allowing him to dive into the hills will gain speed, and releasing your finger makes him flit his Lilliputian wings and attempt to soar into the sky. Just like most other endless running games (of which this is clearly a variant) timing is everything. Hitting the slopes at the fastest possible speed, and then releasing your finger at the height of the next hill gives you the height and distance you desire to escape the setting sun.

So far the game is pretty average right? That’s where the scoring mechanisms come into play. There are coins scattered on the islands which give you a few points each and gets you closer to various goals that you have. Yes this bird has goals in life. These goals are usually hitting a certain distance, a specific height or number of coins in a level. As you complete these goals your nest gets upgraded, which gives you a multiplier to your base score, allowing your next game’s score to be even more impressive than the one you just finished. This is one of the ways the game keeps you playing, and it is incredibly effective. The “one more game” mentality is very prevalent in Tiny Wings and it has become my “go-to” game when I just want to waste a few minutes. Unfortunately, that also means that one quick game usually turns into about a dozen games of me trying to push my score just a tiny bit higher than the previous one.

I can’t deny that the game does have a few goals that tend to get a bit frustrating at times, and it sometimes feels that you will never pass that last one you need for a new nest, but you clearly feel you are progressing as you play in the form of instant recognition for well-timed jumps, so you always get a sense you are improving.

The game moves at a solid frame rate and doesn’t seem to stutter at all in my experience. This is a big deal as it is incredibly necessary for the timing required to keep ahead of the rapidly setting sun. Tiny Wings is simply adorable. The graphics give the game character and an identity all its own, and the sound does its job of enhancing the game but not distracting from the gameplay experience. Again, while it may sound like a bad pun, in games like this, it these kinds of tiny things that make the game a whole product.

In Conclusion

Tiny Wings has been out for a while, but is really a must-own on any device, which can seem like a bold statement, but at the current price point of 99¢ you just can’t go wrong.