Ever since its initial release on iOS, Angry Birds has become something of a phenomenon. So much, in fact, that it has managed to extend its reach into multiple consoles, sequels, spin-offs, and merchandising, surpassing itself as a mere mobile game tenfold.
And thanks to the widespread popularity and use of tablets and smart phones, everyone and their grandmother has played it, making it one of the most accessible and well-known games of this generation.
As such, it’s not surprising to see the Birds team up with other key franchises in order to cash in on their popularity. What is surprising, however, is that the game’s latest iteration is not only its most unique, it’s also by far the very best the franchise has had to offer.
Angry Birds Star Wars is, admittedly, an odd coupling. But from the very start of the game, it’s clear that more than a little thought has been put into it, offering up some seriously satisfying fan service on behalf of the little birds and Star Wars fans worldwide.
At its core, it’s an Angry Birds game right down to the very level construction and gameplay, but the aesthetic itself has been overhauled to represent a more Star Wars-centric theme. If you’re a fan of George Lucas’ legendary universe, you’ll recognize various locations, characters, elements, and references throughout the game that make it both interesting and endearing. Even the enemies have been overhauled to include the new theme; where they wore helmets and crowns in versions before, the evil pigs don Storm Trooper helmets and Imperial Officer attire, among others. It’s clever and serves to encapsulate the game’s quirky nature well.
The gameplay consists of the same familiar mechanics; birds are launched at structures containing the enemies using a slingshot controlled by the player’s finger-dragging motion, points are awarded for building destruction and birds left unused, and a star rating is awarded to players at the completion of each level. Bonus levels are unlocked after a certain number of stars have been earned, and the goal is still to “pop” each pig contained within the structure while destroying as much of it as possible.
The game still uses the same birds we all know and love; the straight-shooting red bird, the multiplying blue bird, the triangular yellow bird, the gargantuan red bird, etc…but while they’re easily recognizable, their abilities have been re-vamped in order to appeal to the game’s overall Star Wars theme. The red bird, taking on the role of Luke Skywalker, is given a lightsaber after the first few levels, which can be used to cut down parts of structures and send them tumbling. The yellow bird serves as Han Solo and fires three laser blasts to destroy enemies with, the giant bird is meant to be Chewbacca, the black bird is Obi-Wan Kenobi armed with a force blast ability, and a handful of others appear throughout the game, each with their own abilities both familiar, yet useful. For those who get stuck, the game still features a “Mighty Eagle” mechanic with a large character meant to come in and wipe large areas of enemies and structures off the play space. It takes the form of the Milennium Falcon in this iteration, however, and instead of being an in-app purchase, turns are earned after completing levels and tasks within the gameplay itself. Enemies provide new challenges by moving and even firing off ranged attacks, rather than just sitting idly as in previous versions of the game. It’s clever, and the game design is handled well enough to provide you both with opportunities and challenges to test your skill with the various abilities.
The game retains its same puzzle element, but manages to blend the best parts of not only the traditional Angry Birds formula of a linear, horizontal play space, but also combines the traditional with the more recent mechanics found in Angry Birds Space. Those who enjoyed Space will find several levels that borrow the exact conventions used in the game, including gravity pull and freezing.
Much in the tradition of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space, the physics are impressive, providing enough challenge and seamless construction to make for a satisfying and fulfilling experience. With its varied gameplay modes and versions, the game calls for different strategies and mutiple level playthroughs in order to achieve the game’s highest score.
Despite what you may think about the pairing of Angry Birds and Star Wars, it’s a duo that shouldn’t be underestimated. With some amusing fan service, interesting changes in the gameplay mechanics, new levels, new enemies and challenges, and a seamless blend of gameplay modes, this is not only the most interesting of the licensed Angry Birds games, it’s the best version of Angry Birds ever made, and an absolute must-buy for Star Wars fans, Angry Birds fans, and anyone who considers themselves a gamer.