Angry Birds Star Wars Review: It Shouldn’t Work, But It Does
As I was playing Angry Birds Star Wars today, I said to myself, “I really shouldn’t be enjoying this as much as I am.”
I mean, seriously. Is this not the biggest, boldest level of cross-marketing sell-out in App Store history? Is it not using the already well-trod assets of a franchise that has sold its soul to the gods of marketing (and I’m not sure if I’m talking about Angry Birds or Star Wars there)? Is this not, really, just another Angry Birds game?
The answers are Yes, Yes, and Yes. And yet, despite everything, it works. Angry Birds Star Wars is evidence that even the worst ideas can, if done right, produce something downright enjoyable.
I think part of the reason that it works so well is that they got the Star Wars elements right. The game designers didn’t just stick a Star Wars skin on everything. Instead, they embed the movies into the game at all levels: cinematic, level design, sound effects, soundtrack. This thorough integration of the Star Wars property into the Angry Birds world is an absolute success for the game.
Each of the birds, for example, is more than just a bird in a costume.They have actually changed the way each bird’s power works, such that the power reflects the Star Wars character … but ALSO suits the bird. For instance, the Black Bomb Bird becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi, and whereas before the bird exploded, now it radiates a Force blast — still a sort of explosion, but one more fitting the Jedi motif. And then there’s the Yellow Bird, who not only dons a Han Solo costume and “Wa-hoo!” call, but also gets a good blaster at his side. It’s a nice mix-up of the Yellow Bird’s original power (or his purple Space counterpart) that also works for the Solo character.
The well-done integration of Star Wars is a good thing, because without it there’s not a single original idea in Angry Birds Star Wars. It is just another Angry Birds game, where you fling birds at structures in an attempt to destroy pigs. It mixes up elements from the original game and Angry Birds Space, but that’s about as far as the novelty goes.
I’m not saying this in a bad way. Who doesn’t love playing Angry Birds? I’m saying it in a “this is starting to feel a little repetitive” way. As in, please Rovio, don’t make this a habit. I don’t want to see Angry Birds Harry Potter next, or Angry Birds Transformers, or Angry Birds Twilight.
If there’s one major beef I have with the game, it’s the IAP. Your 99 cents buys you 40 Tatooine levels and 40 Death Star levels, plus the promise of free Hoth levels to come. But there are also Yoda-filled Dagobah levels in the game … for an additional $1.99. Really, Rovio? Twice the price of the game for one set of levels? And it’s not even like in Angry Birds Space, where they promised that the purchasable levels were “extra-hard”. It’s just the next sequence of levels, the next part of the Star Wars story.
It makes me wonder: where is Rovio taking this one? After Dagobah, there’s still Cloud City to do, and Jabba’s Palace, and the Forest Moon of Endor, before the Star Wars Trilogy is complete. Am I going to spending $1.99 apiece for those, too? Will this 99-cent game end up costing me $9?
Gripes over IAP aside, I really do like this game. It’s a cross-licensing nightmare that’s wholly derivative of its sources and completely lacking any original element; but it’s also FUN, and if you’re a fan of these franchises you will almost definitely enjoy it.
Our Score: 4 out of 5