Angry Birds Star Wars. Just seeing the title of Rovio mobile’s latest game fills you with anticipation. The power Rovio has in the mobile gaming industry has already been established over the past years, with the various iterations of Angry Birds showing that they are one of the best mobile game makers out there. This years’ titles, notably Angry Birds Space, and Bad Piggies, have only expanded Rovio’s reach in the mobile space, and now they have debuted what is their best Angry Birds title yet.
In a partnership with LucasFilm, Rovio has gained access to the Star Wars franchise, and has turned the original trilogy into a video game. This results in the traditional Angry Birds formula being altered to fit into the immersive science fiction world created decades ago.
Open the app for the first time, and the traditional Star Wars theme song will play, giving a feel of nostalgia. However, listen for a while, and the song reveals that it has an Angry Birds side to it. This really is the theme of the entire game. Rovio have taken an iconic franchise, respected the source material, and altered it to perfectly fit into their own world.
The set of characters in the game really is massive. Many well known characters make appearances, with Luke Skywalker heading the pack as the red bird. Although just like all other birds, the red one has been altered to reflect its Star Wars inhabitant. The black bird is Obi-Wan Kenobi, with cloak and all, and the yellow bird is Han Solo, donning the vest and belt.
Although the abilities of these birds have been changed massively. To fit in with the Star Wars theme, new abilities have been added, and original ones removed. The most notable introduction is that of weapons. The Luke bird dons a blue lightsaber, while the Han and Leia birds use lasers. This adds a level of complexity otherwise not seen in the Angry Birds games. The Luke bird will still inflict damage simply by knocking into structures or enemies, but with the lightsaber, he can also slow down time and swing his weapon, destroying more objects than he could otherwise do. The new abilities do not stop there, however. The Obi-Wan bird utilises the force. This replaces the explosive abilities of the bird in other games, meaning that players will have to figure out new ways to use the bird’s strengths to their advantage. This is much the same for the R2-D2 and C3PO birds, which have their own unique abilities. They do not replace any other birds from the series, but instead, introduce new mechanics. The R2-D2 bird will electrocute enemies, while the C3PO bird will disassemble into many pieces.
Locations are a large part of Angry Birds Star Wars. Players will follow the chronological path of the movies, first starting out on the desert planet Tatooine, and then moving onto the Death Star, which is shaped to look like the face of a pig (obviously). As is synonymous with Rovio games, the level design is excellent, tasking the player to utilize the abilities of each individual bird to overcome unique situations. A mechanic that makes a return from Angry Birds Space is that of gravity fields. When in outer space, fields of gravity will operate around small planets or meteorites, making for a change of pace in the gameplay. Whereas in Angry Birds Space, this was the only mechanic to be seen, in Angry Birds Star Wars, it is combined with the ground-based field levels, making for a more varied experience.
The level of polish in the game is really what makes it so excellent. Putting aside the fact that there are no major bugs in the game, the attention to detail on behalf of Rovio is a major plus. In the menus this is particularly evident. Before entering a level on the Tatooine world, just look at the menu design. In the background is the planet of Tatooine, and of course, the planet’s two moons. In the corner is a stormtrooper firing lasers from a small meteorite, and space debris is flying about the screen.This level of polish does continue right throughout the game, and it really is of a standard that is now expected of Rovio.
I had no concerns that Angry Birds Star Wars would be a great game, and when a developer like Rovio is involved, then a positive result is guaranteed. The source material has been taken, and altered to fit the Angry Birds world, but in no way has it been disrespected. The Angry Birds Star Wars world is the combination of the best from both series. Many claim that the Angry Birds gameplay is the same from game-to-game, but with this title, Rovio has defied that. New abilities in almost every bird makes for a refreshing experience, and the mix of gameplay across planets is excellent. Rovio could have easily put a new spin on Angry Birds without the Star Wars branding, but I am so glad that they didn’t. Combining two franchises that are loved by so many, and doing it in a way that expands and respects both is something to be impressed by. The level set is currently not very expansive, but as Rovio always does, updates will be issued at a fast pace, keeping the content fresh, and ensuring that players will come back months, or even years later. Angry Birds Star Wars is the culmination of years of experience on behalf of Rovio, and the partnership with LucasFilm to combine these two franchises was an incredibly clever move. Angry Birds Star Wars is no doubt the best game that Rovio has ever made. Now I’m interested on whether they can better this excellent game.