Developer: Rovio Entertainment Ltd
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There once was a man named George Lucas who decided he wasn’t prosperous enough. In search of never-ending wealth, he released three new films in his storied Star Wars franchise. After eventually completing his quest for riches and fortune, Lucas licensed out the rights for his films to Rovio, the brains behind the Angry Birds franchise. And thus a glorious gaming baby was born in the form of Angry Birds Star Wars II. Can this entry make just as big of a splash as the first installment, or have the days of Force-wielding fowl long since passed?

IMG_0536Marketing professionals go an entire lifetime dreaming of working with a single brand that even remotely has the clout of a singular Star Wars or Angry Birds. Melding these two juggernauts together is a cross-promotional fantasy that has probably sold an iOS game or two… million. Taking a whack at the more recent trilogy is the aim of the sequel and this time around Rovio has ambitions of pulling out all of the stops.

Angry Birds Star Wars II is the perfect opportunity to get a fresh take on the Angry Birds formula, by introducing fantastic new abilities to complement the plethora of characters that make an appearance in the prequels. Sadly, with the exception of Jar Jar Binks’ tongue swinging mechanic and Yoda’s ever-amusing “bounce-a-thon of doom,” this time around feels far too much like the first outing. Sure there are force powers and lightsabers a-plenty, but essentially these play like variations on abilities that have previously existed in the series. Familiarity may prove to be an advantageous strategy in the long run, but throwing additional lightsabers into the hands of General Grievous doesn’t make him interact with the environment any differently than other lightsaber wielders like Qui-Gon Jinn, which is tragic.

IMG_0513The game’s initial batch of eighty levels actually take a different approach to campaign design than what has previously been implemented. Taking advantage of the Star Wars “Light Side” vs. “Dark Side” paradigm conflict, each chapter is split down the middle. In the respective halves, players will get to use characters from one side of the fence. Ultimately the goal is to tell two separate sides of the same story, with paths eventually crossing in climactic battles. It is a neat approach that pays off well, also allowing the developers to take advantage of twice as many characters from within the immensely deep Star Wars universe. The one main criticism of the campaign as a whole is that levels feel far simpler than previous titles, further evidenced by the runtime of less than two hours.

Calling back to the marketing potential alluded to earlier, this is one of the newest titles to cash in on the, “toys that import into games,” craze. Specially marked Telepod Angry Birds Star Wars figurines can be scanned into any stage, taking the place of the less-desirable default feathered hero. This works by placing a base station directly over the iOS device’s camera, and then placing the figure atop the pedestal. The station itself actually acts as a magnifying glass that enables the reading of a QR code positioned on the bottom of the collectable figures. Everything in this process works exactly as promised, with the addendums that light side characters can only be used in light side stages, and vice-versa.

IMG_0529Some may question the motivations of the Angry Birds Star Wars II cross-pollination, but ultimately the result is another undeniably fun permutation on the already addictive Angry Birds recipe. Even though the runtime may be down a bit, it will no doubt be bolstered by future free updates down the road. There is no need to second guess this $0.99 purchase. Think of it as an investment in the future of entertainment that will pay dividends in the coming months. The Force is strong with this one. This IS the game we’re looking for.


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