Angry Birds creator Rovio just launched Angry Birds: Isle of Pigs, an Apple exclusive take on its feather-flinging franchise that uses your iPhone or iPad’s AR tech to create mobile battlegrounds on real-world arenas, from kitchen surfaces to office desks.

And the most significant shift to this incredibly frequent flyer was only unveiled publicly today (March 19) at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. This is no less than the 24th game in the series in 10 years, and Digital Spy managed to get some hands-on time with it last week in London.

Angry Birds: Isle of Pigs, developed by Swedish mobile specialist Resolution Games, will be familiar to anyone who’s flirted with augmented-reality games before, be that on iPhone or going way back to Nintendo’s 3DS or PlayStation’s PS Vita.

But now coupled with a series as well-known as Angry Birds, the format’s ability to impress remains somehow undimmed.

The bird-bites-pig series’ traditionally 2D fortresses are remade in 3D space, using your device’s camera trickery to throw the playing field down on nearby surfaces as fixed, increasingly complex dioramas that you walk around and ponder. It’s virtual Jenga, or if Steven Spielberg squeezed Boom Bloxx into Ready Player One, and it’s amazing they haven’t tried it before.

The perspective shift overhauls the way you play completely, changing it from a commuter quick fix to an elaborate strategic parlour game as you hold up your phone and lean round the game’s structures to assess pig locations to lob at, squat down to peek for hidden explosives, and raise your arm high to rain down birds from optimal angles into the screen. If it sounds a bit involved, it occasionally is, but if you go in gung ho, it’s beguiling, transformative stuff.

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