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The classic game: Tiny Wings

An endless arcade game that repeatedly taught you about the gravity of your situation

The latest entry in our classics series wanted you to fly high – although you’d inevitably and repeatedly come crashing down to earth. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but we don’t care about that – we’re too busy reminiscing about the amazing Tiny Wings!

Tiny Wings

Tiny Wings, in 2011.

What was Tiny Wings?

An endless runner of sorts, only without any actual running. Instead, you controlled a rotund bird, who dreamed of flying. Alas, her stumpy wings meant such dreams were always fleeting, with the bird soaring for mere seconds before crashing down with a bump. Your aim was to get her as far as possible before the sun set, by timing dives to have the feathered heroine slide down slopes, gain momentum, and then soar off the top of the next hill.

Why was it a classic?

The game felt fantastic to play – and had an infectious joy in its personality. The bird whooped with excitement when blasting through the air. And the entire production was a feast for the eyes, with gorgeous visuals and lighting effects. If that was it for Tiny Wings, it still would have made our list. But Andreas Illiger generously iterated on his creation. Tiny Wings 2.0 was an update rather than a separate app, yet added Flight School – a side-on racer take on the game, with chicks aiming to get to their mother first and win the biggest fish. And on iPad, a simultaneous two-player mode gave you head-to-head split-screen action too.

Flight School.

Flight School mode, in 2024.

Where is it now?

Unlike a great many of its contemporaries – including the mighty Canabalt – Tiny Wings is still being updated for modern devices. And that doesn’t just mean making adjustments to screen sizes – last year, the game received a slew of new missions and hundreds of unlockable birds, further rewarding your coin-collecting efforts. The game remains as charming and compelling as ever. You’d be bird-brained to miss it.

Visit the Tiny Wings website or get Tiny Wings ($1.99/£1.99) from the App Store. Tiny Wings is also available as part of Apple Arcade.