Angry Birds Star Wars (Credit: Rovio)Hang on a sec, Disney -- Rovio's got some Star Wars business to attend to first.
You could be forgiven for thinking the combination of Angry Birds and Star Wars is little more than an unholy marketing union. The mash-up, on the surface, at least, has potential disaster written all over it.
But like peanut butter and chocolate, it turns out this pop-culture odd couple works great together, and is certain to delight fans of both franchises. Available today for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows and Mac computers, it could actually turn out to be the Angry Birds game you were looking for.
Just don't let the weak beginning fool you. Angry Birds Star Wars starts off like a typical Angry Birds game…only the bird, in this case, has Luke Skywalker's 1970s haircut. And you might be tempted to think you've seen all this before.
It's not long, though, before Bird-versions of other familiar characters start to appear, which is where the game starts to stand out from its predecessors. R2D2 shocks enemies in addition to crashing into them. Obi Wan uses a Force push, which, in a brilliant geeky twist, gets stronger after Vader strikes him down. The Luke bird even becomes more interesting after a few levels with the addition of a lightsaber, which cuts down enemies and structures and lets him deflect laser blasts back at stormtrooper pigs.
And Han? Star Wars purists will be happy to know that he shoots first, both in his introductory scene and when he's used in the game (you can touch an enemy while he's in the air and he'll fire three rounds from his blaster at the enemy).
The game offers a blend of the terrestrial levels from most Angry Birds games as well as the interstellar physics bits from Angry Birds Space. It starts on Tattooine, then shuffles over to the Death Star. Though it holds on to some Angry Birds mainstays, it reworks everything for the Star wars license. Golden Eggs, for instance, are now golden droids, while the Mighty Eagle has been replaced by -- what else -- the Millennium Falcon.
Critics, so far, are raving.
"Angry Birds Star Wars is more than a Star Wars-themed Angry Birds game—it's a Star Wars-enhanced Angry Birds game, the two elements combining into something greater than the sum of its parts," writes Kotaku.
"Angry Birds Star Wars is a timely reminder that the series' billion-plus downloads is also down to strong word-of-mouth recommendations of a game that's accessible and addictive," adds The Guardian. "It's also a reminder that developer Rovio continues to put a lot of effort and craft into Angry Birds as a game, rather than just a brand to be milked."
And while Polygon's Chris Plante acknowledges that the bizarre brand combo might "trigger a gag reflex," writing it off is a mistake.
"Rovio's latest flies to the tender core of such cynicism and blasts it to stardust, with a payload of creativity, playfulness and reverence for the beloved sci-fi classic," he writes.
So is it a marketing vehicle? Of course. But it just so happens to be a really good game to boot. You're all clear, kid.