Dec. 23, 2010— -- You're hooked. You wanted to know what the "Angry Birds" buzz was all about, so you downloaded the game to your smartphone and now, like millions of others, you're an all-out pig-slaughtering, slingshot-wielding addict.
Maybe you already have your own strategies for beating the game, but if you're like most newbies, a little expert advice might help you conquer more levels of the game as you wait at the airport or digest Christmas dinner over the holidays.
To help put you on the path to cracking the catchiest game of the year, ABCNews.com spoke to an "Angry Birds" master, who has beaten every level of the game and was willing to share his own secret tips and tricks.
Suraj Patel, a 27-year-old New York tech entrepreneur, started playing in July (as part of a challenge with his three brothers) and earned his bragging rights in August.
"Angry Birds" veterans may already know these tips, but Patel said he'd take any extra questions via Twitter. If you want to know more, he's @SurajStar.
Pay attention to the tracker
Don't just pull that slingshot back and fire off those birds willy-nilly.
As each bird flies through the air and (hopefully) lands on its target, the game traces its trajectory with a white dotted line. Use that line to your advantage, Patel urged. If you missed your target, place your next bird above or below that line, depending on how far you want the bird to travel.
And, when you find a path that works, stick to it. Some levels require that you fire at the same place up to four or five times, he said.
Know your birds
Not all birds are created equal. For the red birds introduced at the earlier levels, there's not much more than meets the eye. But in later levels, the game offers up different birds that excel at different tasks.
"There are a lot of ways to beat each level, but if you want to get three stars, you need to use the right kind of bird for the right kind of thing," he said, adding that if you strategically use your birds, you have a better shot at earning the bonus points awarded for leftover birds at the end of the level.
At the start of each level, Patel said, look at the set-up your birds need to break in order to smash the pigs, and then use your birds accordingly.
Use Your Birds to Your Advantage
"A lot of people think you want to use the egg bomb," he said. "But it's really less about the bomb, it's more about the bounce."
Even though each bird has its purpose, Patel said to experiment with different tactics, because most of the tricks he uncovered were accidental.
"Just because they give you a bird, it doesn't mean you need to use it the way it's supposed to be used," he said. The boomerang bird, for example, can smash through plenty when fired straight just like any other bird.
Keep an eye out for golden eggs
One of the many secrets hidden in Angry Birds are the elusive golden eggs. (Patel said that though he's beaten each of the levels released by Rovio, he still hasn't unlocked all of the eggs.)
Sometimes they appear when a bird travels in an exceptionally high arc on the screen; other times they appear when your finger scrolls to locations off the screen. But Patel said they offer up extra rounds of game play and bonus points.
Persistence pays off
But, aside from knowing the basics, Patel said the key is just to keep on keeping on. It may seem like some levels take an eternity to conquer but he said that, ultimately, with a few minutes here and there, you'll power through.
"They are no set rules on how to play angry birds," Patel said. "You just want to keep trying and, eventually, you'll figure it out."