It could be argued that this is the first real mobile game with the burden of a legacy. Rovio’s runaway success with Angry Birds has spawned merchandise, a TV show, and countless other things. Star Wars is among the biggest pop culture brands in history. And after the success of the first game, Angry Birds Star Wars II has a lot to live up to. The game rolls up the classic slingshot style, the underwater and anti-grav physics of Angry Birds Space and throws in plenty of characters with superpowers. It turns the birds into Jedi masters of “The Rebirdion” and the pigs into evildoers from “The Pork Side”. And if that sounds silly, you really aren’t giving in to this mini-universe and embracing its quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Choose Your Destiny
It all starts with trying to fight evil as part of the Rebirdions. The action starts during the “Naboo Invasion” and it’s classic Angry Birds. There’s a structure on the right of the screen where the pigs are stationed, and you have your slingshot on the left with a fixed number of birds. Depending on your side, you get a wide variety of birds. Writing about each character and his or her powers would end up filling realms of pages. The Red bird itself, cast as Anakin Skywalker in this game, has three different avatars: pod racer, Jedi padawan and Sith apprentice. Each of his roles has a different weapon. With the pod racer, once you launch him with the slingshot, you can tap anywhere on the screen to direct his pod there. As a Jedi padawan, he takes out obstacles with a blue lightsaber. And as a Sith apprentice, an orbiting red lightsaber is his weapon of choice. Just like the Red bird, all of the birds have been recast in different roles in the game. There’s the Yellow bird as Han Solo, the King Pig as Emperor Palpatine, Black bird as Mace Windu, a Pig as Jango Fett, another Pig as Darth Maul, Pink bird as Princess Lei and so on. Every bird comes with a custom power, whether it’s launching a rocket, slicing with a saber, throwing a boomerang or changing direction in mid-air. And you have to use their abilities wisely to get through each level by sacrificing the least amount of birds. The lesser birds you use, the more stars you get. And stars and credits are valuable in unlocking or buying different characters or bundles in the shop, which you can use mid-game.
Help Is At Hand
That’s right, if you are ever stuck in any level, you can now trade your current bird or pig in for someone else. You have a limited supply of these “swaps” with each type of bird, so use them wisely. All you have to do is tap on the second button in the menu and a pop-up will show you all the birds you have and how many of each you have. In the corner of each bird, you will see a little icon showing you what their power is — a move we welcome given how hard it is to keep track of the 30+ characters in the game. Each swap counts as one bird, of course, so if you miss, that’s one down. But the good news is that getting it right will give you the points that are earned by the swapped character, not the original — so say, if you were to swap out a Chewbacca for a Mace Windu, Windu will earn you more points when you use his violent boomerang lightsaber to finish the level.
Great Graphics, Great Gameplay
Angry Birds wasn’t the first physics-based cannon game, but there are two things that have made it such a runaway hit: the graphics and the gameplay. And Star Wars II delivers on the graphics front. The detailing in the characters, the lush backgrounds, the fantastic animations for each bird and pig — it’s excellent work and Rovio should be proud. It’s a game that’s meant to be appealing to both kids and adults with its cartoonish style. I don’t say this lightly: Disney would have been happy with this. But where it really shines is in the gameplay. The three physics modes of the Angry Birds games are so neatly segregated, you might not even notice them. The Rebirdions fight on a planet with Earth-like gravity; the Pork Side fights in space with zero-gravity; and special Reward Chapters submerge you for water-based physics. The two main campaigns themselves — Naboo Invasion and Escape To Tatooine — have 20 levels each on the good and dark sides, bringing you a total of 80 puzzles; and that’s excluding reward chapters. You can seamlessly switch between sides and try to get the most number of stars possible. The one aspect of Angry Birds Star Wars II that I admire the most is Rovio’s ability to make levels that have just the right amount of difficulty. Upon starting a level, you never think this one is going to be easy. But it’s also never so difficult that you will take eons or get stuck. It’s easy to make a tough, frustrating game; it’s tough to make a game that challenges you without frustrating you. Full marks!
Android is the only platform where Angry Birds Star Wars II is available as a free download, supported by ads, although you can also buy the paid ad-free version for 99 cents. Is the game worth it for 99 cents? Given that you get 80 levels of puzzling glory coupled with fantastic graphics and a celebration of two iconic franchises, I would say it’s a steal. And even if you don’t want to spend that, there’s still the free version available. Only a fool would pass up that deal!