Because I'm a huge fan of Angry Birds Star Wars II, I downloaded Angry Bird Go! as soon as possible. It's a free to play app, and considering it's yet another Rovio release, I was expecting only excellence from my aviary friends.

One of my favorite aspects of the Angry Birds franchise lies in its seamless use of iOS control mechanics. With the series moving from a physics based platform to straight up racing, there is a slight change. You won't be sliding your finger to create a target path for your birds, as most of the navigation deals with tapping the left and right directional arrows on your device to navigate your kart. Gamers who would rather tilt their device to move their vehicles also have that option.

The only true aiming comes at the race's starting point, as you slingshot the driver once the competition begins. As Angry Birds vets know, a slide of a finger gets the bird in shooting motion, and once that digit is released, the winged warrior is sent flying off.

During this race, my poor slingshot skills ends up giving my driver an eighth place start. It's a disadvantage that I just couldn't overcome, even though this racing challenge required my car to finish in the top three spots. The free power boost, located on the right side of my device, helped me cover a bit of ground, but it still wasn't enough.

The variety of challenges also brings a fresh feel to the proceedings, and even though this app isn't the most complicated or nuanced app in town, its steak and potatoes approach doesn't disappoint. If you want to go head to head against another racer, just click on the Versus mode. Want to ride solo and dodge obstacles on a track? Simply enter the Time Boom section and race against the clock. Since I'm slowly turning into an annoying, kale munching health nut, burning rubber isn't the only thing that's on my mind. To lessen my iOS caloric intake, I entered the Fruit Splat mode, which challenges me to run through as many fruits as possible during the race.

Those watermelons sure look tasty, and unfortunately Angry Bird Stella is simply gawking at the fruits instead of smashing them. If the fruit bar, which is featured on the top of the screen, isn't fully erased by the finish line, Stella fails her mission. Since I'm not exactly the grace under pressure type, you can probably guess the outcome.

Since it's free to play, Angry Birds Go! contains in-app purchases. Under the freemium model this is a necessary evil, but thankfully it doesn't completely detract from the experience. Players who decide not to plunk down any cash won't be able to play this game ad infinitum once they run out of gems to recharge the birds' energy bar. The worst case scenario, however, is you will have to wait several minutes for Red to enter another race. If you've already unlocked Stella and her energy bar is still fresh, then simply enter matches using my favorite pink bird. She's great in a pinch, even though she's in her own little bubble.

Upgrading your kart is also a necessity, as certain races can't be entered if you don't meet the requirements. To increase your various skills, you thankfully don't have to pay out of your own pocket, as the gold you accrue during your matches pays for the improvements. Although there are a healthy amount of coins available during the race, winning the challenges is the fastest way to fill your coffers. Red isn't in the best of mood these days, but pimping out his ride might do the trick.

Angry Birds' continued appeal has even transcended the video game genre with the release of its animated series and its successful line of toys. By placing an Angry Birds Go! telepod over your device's camera, you can transport that respective character into the race. This extra feature, along with a charming and refreshingly catchy soundtrack, pushes this app over the edge - in a good way. It's that rare freemium experience which offers gamers a ton of intriguing elements and game play without forcing us to spend a dime. It's hard not to fall in love with this app.

Angry Birds Go! is a first rate kart racer which delivers the goods. There's a good shot that one of these challenges will keep you glued to this app, and when it comes to replay value, Rovio knows how to hold our attention. Several weeks later I'm still playing Angry Birds Star Wars II, and I know that come Christmas time, my karts will still be crossing the finish line.


App Store Link: Angry Birds Go! for iPhone & iPad | By Rovio Entertainment Ltd | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.0 | 97.9 MB | Rating 4+

8.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating