As much as I love the Angry Birds franchise, the joy of flinging little birds at green pigs has waned as of late. Between Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, and the disastrous Bad Piggies, Rovio clearly needs to explore new horizons for its physical puzzler. So the Finnish developers turned to the final frontier and the only franchise in less need of a new entry: Angry Birds Star Wars.
In a nod to the first Star Wars film (Episode IV), you start the game with little red birds with blond hair. These are meant to represent series protagonist Luke Skywalker, and you first start out in battles with little Sandpeople-themed pigs. Luke will later develop the ability to use a lightsaber, giving the little red birds much more power. You’ll also unlock a force-using Obi Wan bird, a gun-slinging Han Solo bird, and a hulky, growling Chewbacca bird.
While adorable, Angry Birds Star Wars rarely approaches levels beyond mere gimmick. Sure, you’re able to fling birds in both normal gravity and space areas, but aside from different backgrounds and costumery, the levels themselves feel stale, as if they already exist in previous Angry Birds installments. It’s only when you utilize Obi Wan’s force powers, take on Darth Vader, or utilize Han’s blaster that the game really explores new game mechanics. Lasers can bounce off certain surfaces, creating opportunities for interesting ricochet attacks involving turrets or Han’s blaster. Meanwhile, Obi Wan can force push most objects around the stage, meaning you’ll need to experiment with how to best fling debris. And Darth Vader is just a pain—he’s hard to kill, he stops Obi Wan’s force powers, and throws other challenges your way. What a jerk.
It’s hard to knock a franchise that is built on fundamentally sound game mechanics: You fling your little birds, they crash into things, rinse, repeat. But with the promise and imagination of the Star Wars universe, its hard not to be a little bit disappointed in the offering so far. Perhaps the promised Hoth levels will push the game into some new directions beyond just new background designs and pigs in costumes.