When a property as hot as Angry Birds comes along, one wonders how long they can keep the franchise fresh with gamers. Bad Piggies took the characters and franchise in a new, and exciting direction. Would teaming up with the greatest film franchise in the history of movies keep the Angry Birds series moving forward? Or just give gamers more of the same?

Angry Birds Star Wars takes all of the Angry Birds games and throws them into one giant science fiction adventure. Rovio teamed up with Lucasfilm and created one of the most exciting team-ups in gaming history. If you've ever wondered what they could do to keep the gameplay fresh in Angry Birds, then this answers your question.

The game roughly follows the story of the first Star Wars film. We meet Luke on Tatooine before branching out into other aspects of the Star Wars universe. Fans of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space will feel right at home, since the game incorporates both styles of play. At first, you'll be doing the normal slingshot thing before you're in outer space playing in levels like Angry Birds Space. It's nice because it keeps the game from becoming stale.

Once you've finished Tatooine, you'll move on to the Death Star levels. For an extra $1.99 you can also play the Dagobah levels, which gives Luke the ability to use a lightsaber. I'm not exactly sure if Luke gets the lightsaber regardless, since I purchased the Dagobah levels right when I started the game, but you get a bunch of extra levels for another two bucks. Not really a fan of them charging more to play Dagobah, but it's still fun. Plus if you play through them all you'll earn a more powerful lightsaber. Hoth isn't available yet and will be unlocked in a future update. There are also bonus levels you can play which I'll get to later in the review.

All of your favorite Star Wars characters are here -- Luke, with his swinging lightsaber; Obi Wan Kenobi, who uses the Force to push objects; Han Solo, with his blaster; X-Wing Pilot, who separates into three pilots; and Chewbacca, who is so big he just destroys everything in his path. These additions really add to the enjoyment of the game, though I found most levels to be a bit too easy to pass. That's not to say you'll get three stars in each level though, something I was rarely able to accomplish. The more stars you earn, the more Millennium Falcon power-ups you're given to use. The Falcon can be used to replace one of your birds in any level. Once you've launched it, press where you'd like for the ship to fire and it will swing around the screen, blasting at the crosshair you marked. It helps in some later levels that can be too tricky to pass. Besides stars, you can earn gold medals if you use the Falcon and it does 100% damage. Just another little bonus for achievement hunters.

Speaking of bonuses, let's not forget about R2-D2 and C3PO. You can play as them in the bonus levels that become unlocked as you play. The bonus levels are tough, so have fun with those. When you launch C3PO, you can tap him to break him apart and his pieces will scatter on the board. R2, when tapped, shoots electricity. Besides the bonus levels, there's a screen that shows the characters and items you've collected and unlocked during gameplay. Even after finishing the game, I still had more items to discover.

One of the nice things fans will like are the sharp graphics and the game's cartoony presentation. Bad Piggies are dressed up as Stormtroopers, Darth Vader is just a big head, and the backgrounds all have that Star Wars look with an Angry Birds makeover. They put a lot of detail into the game and the gameplay itself. For example -- Darth Vader shows up in certain levels, but if you try and take him out with Han's blaster, the blaster shots will just deflect off of his helmet. Small things like that will make you smile as you're playing.

The game looks great on the new iPad. Graphics are sharp and colorful. One thing I did find annoying was the auto-scrolling in levels. Sometimes when you zoom out and try to slingshot a bird, the game screen is still scrolling to the left or right and it can mess up your shot. I wish the screens would stay static no matter where you positioned them. The music features that familiar Star Wars tune, and all of the blaster shots and lightsaber sounds are straight out of the movies.

Angry Birds Star Wars

Fans of Angry Birds, Star Wars or both will have a blast with this new game. And with the promise of free future content, like the planet Hoth, the game could expand into all six episodes, giving us cool scenes to play for months and months. Imagine what an Angry Birds Jabba the Hutt will look like!

Just stay away from Episode I. You don't want to put gamers to sleep.


App Store Link: Angry Birds Star Wars for iPhone & iPad | By Rovio | Price: $0.99 / $2.99 | Version: 1.0.0 | 28.3 / 31.6 MB | Rating 4+

9.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating