My Luke Skywalker Angry Bird has crossed the blazing sands of Tatooine, survived the icy plains of Hoth, trained with Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah, fought Boba Fett in Cloud City, and is ready to take down Pig Vader in the final levels of the second Death Star. With a little luck, the right trajectory, and the boosted Force powers I picked up several levels ago, he might just make it.
Angry Birds Star Wars has moved beyond its traditional mobile operating system roots. After four years of dominating iOS and Android sales, the franchise has spun off, in Star Wars form, to current-generation consoles. The game re-creates the original Star Wars trilogy in Angry Birds form and retells the story of Luke Skywalker, complete with the birds as the Rebel Alliance and the pigs as the Empire, in an amusing adaptation of the trilogy.
As in the Angry Birds you know and love, the goal of each level is to hurl your bird at the pigs, using whatever terrain, explosives, or unique features might be available to wipe them out. All of this is presented in the classic Angry Birds tongue-in-cheek style. Colorful visuals recreate beloved Star Wars scenes with a sly wink, and provide a wonderful complement to the birds' and pigs' grumblings at the start of each level. Birds shriek as they're launched into the air and land with a thud or crash, and their cries of victory when you complete the level are a charming reward for a job well done. Conversely, should you fail the level, the pigs' mocking chortles--and the half-demonic laughter of Pig Vader in particular--inspire you to try a new strategy.
Angry Birds has always combined elements of luck, strategy, and chaos; upon launching your bird, you work with whatever variables--such as gravity, TNT, air vents, or weighted objects--complicate the level. Just as in the mobile Angry Birds games, a responsive set of controls makes it easy to pull back the slingshot, find the right angle, and send your bird soaring into the fray. It's consistently enjoyable to try random new ideas within a level before stumbling upon a tactic that works and earns you two or three stars upon demolishing the last piggy. It's best to stick with a standard controller, for what it's worth. If you use the Move controller, you get a wider default view, but don't get access to the widest view available, which makes for cumbersome navigation.
There's nothing quite like flinging your Luke Skywalker bird by the head of an AT-AT walker, cleanly cutting that head off with a light saber, and then watching the head roll down a hill to reign utter chaos among your porcine foes.
Where Star Wars would be nothing without the Force, Angry Birds Star Wars would be nothing without an upgradable set of unique and Force-related abilities for your birds. Your Luke Skywalker bird can swing a light saber in midair, your Han Solo bird can fire a trio of laser bolts at any target along its trajectory, and your Obi-Wan Kenobi bird can use a Force push to shove objects in midair--as well as through walls--or deflect laser blasts. Not to be outdone, your Princess Leia bird can grab objects with a miniature tractor beam and fling them about as needed, your Chewbacca bird can crash through almost any object, and your Rebel pilot bird can split into three small, fast-moving birds. These powers round out the Star Wars element and make it fun to enter a new level, look over the puzzle at hand, take a mental inventory of what birds you have at your disposal, and begin racking your brain as to the steps you have to take to beat the level. You also upgrade your birds after you complete the requisite number of levels, which only improves the pig-smashing fun.
The Star Wars element isn't merely a veneer: the levels embrace the locations from the movies as well as the source material itself. The inventive level design keeps you on your toes, and it's interesting to see the physics change based on location. The Cloud City and space-based levels introduce variable gravity and varying air paths you must fling your bird over, and these shifts keep the gameplay lively. There's nothing quite like flinging your Luke Skywalker bird by the head of an AT-AT walker, cleanly cutting that head off with a light saber, and then watching the head roll down a hill to reign utter chaos among your porcine foes.
When your birds' powers just aren't enough, the Millennium Falcon has been transformed into the Mighty Falcon, wherein a probe can be flung toward your opponents and set off, and the Millennium Falcon scorches the general area with laser fire. You have to save up the stars you collect by beating each level to use the Mighty Falcon, but it's fun to call in a laser-based air strike when you want to wipe out a few holdout enemies.
While Star Wars Angry Birds' single-player mode pulls out all the stops, the multiplayer mode is bland by comparison. Two players can fling birds cooperatively or compete for high scores, but either way, Angry Birds Star Wars makes for a lackluster shared experience. It's a shame these modes play so closely to the traditional Angry Birds structure, rather than bring something novel to the mix. As it is, taking turns with a friend doesn't bring anything meaningful to Angry Birds that you couldn't experience on your own, even in the game's mobile versions.
And that's where things get sticky. All of this content is available for under $10 in total on mobile platforms, yet runs a hefty $39.99 on console. Granted, Angry Birds Star Wars arrives with a hefty amount of content--about 100 levels to play through, some cool bonus levels, and character stickers and concept art to unlock--but that's a huge premium to pay for the luxury of playing Angry Birds on your television screen.
It's hard to overcome the price point, as charming as Angry Birds Star Wars is. The difference in price between platforms is substantial, but the difference in gameplay is not. Yet you shouldn't outright sentence Angry Birds Star Wars to the Great Pit of Carkoon to be slowly digested over the course of 1,000 years. The game's midi-chlorian counts may not be through the roof, but not every bird needs to be a Jedi Master to have value in this galaxy.