Halloween 2017, players of Angry Birds Evolution got an unexpected visit from one of the most iconic faces in heavy metal music. Iron Maiden mascot, Eddie the Head, materialized from the ether to claim piggy souls. For many, it was a head-scratching mashup, but for the team of heavy metal fans responsible for the game, the unlikely union was a match made in heaven ––or maybe somewhere else…
“As a team who grew up on 80s metal, horror and general weirdness, we wanted to put out something really frickin’ cool for Halloween that we knew our players would love,” says Angry Birds Evolution creative director, Ville Ikäheimonen. That something started with a phone call. Rovio VP of games, Miika Tams reached out to an Iron Maiden representative with a crazy idea for the legendary heavy metal outfit to collaborate with a seemingly unrelated mobile game. What’s crazier, after consulting with the band, they said yes.
Work began immediately at Angry Birds Evolution developer Chimera to transform Eddie into a fearsome and powerful character that players could add to their team in the game. Eddie, has graced nearly every Iron Maiden album cover since the band’s debut in 1980, and has been a main fixture in the band’s stage show for as long. The infamous mascot actually got his beginning as a blood-spewing stage prop nicknamed “the head”.
Needless to say, the team had a wealth of source material to work from, and they began designing an Angry Birds-infused character based on their favorite Iron Maiden album covers. Ultimately, designs based on the Killers, Book of Souls, Powerslave, and Somewhere in Time album covers were introduced in Angry Birds Evolution as different “evolution” stages of the Eddie the Bird character.
Awesome character design is awesome, but to put the final rivets in the metal package, the music had to be on point. That’s where music producer, Henri Sorvali, and senior sound designer, Jakke Viitala came in. It has been said that Finland has more metal bands per capita than any other country in the world. That’s thanks in part to musicians like Sorvali and Viitala who when not creating music and sound for Rovio games by day, are melting faces by night in their own metal projects.
“When we heard about the Eddie coming to Angry Birds Evolution, we were all over it. I threatened to quit if I wasn’t involved,” says Viitala laughing.
Sorvali said of the collaboration, “Iron Maiden are total legends. There’s sort of a joke about Iron Maiden’s music being passed down through generations when children come of age so Iron Maiden is a big part of a lot of people's’ lives around here, ours included. We had to do the music the justice it deserved. We went through our record collections to find every possible thing we could reference in the music, pulling influences from our favorite Iron Maiden songs, and taking note of the characteristics that Maiden is known for.”
The result was the track, 2 Minutes to Pigfight, which is bursting with references to Iron Maiden’s work, with majestic guitar melodies, and an unstoppable galloping rhythm. At the same time, the track is undoubtedly “Angry Birds” with a healthy dose of humor to boot.
From a phone call, to incredible character designs, to the musical icing on the metal cake, millions of players saw the end result of the team’s hard work when the limited-time event went live in October, and Bird Island hasn’t been the same since.
Now, there’s good news for the players who missed Eddie the Bird the first time around. Eddie is back! From now until Sunday, November 19th, Eddie the Bird is making a return visit to Bird Island to take care of some unfinished business. Players have a chance to hatch the iconic bird for the duration of the event. Time to run to the hills, pigs!