One of the more unlikely partnerships in the history of video games is getting a bonus round: The Angry Birds franchise released its second go-round with Star Wars, giving us Angry Birds Star Wars II.
The new app, available for all major mobile platforms, brings the well-worn gaming style of the increasingly vast Angry Birds universe back to the world of Star Wars, this time focusing on the prequel trilogy of Episodes I, II, and III. As with the first Angry Birds Star Wars game, players again get to play as various Star Wars characters (in their rounded, avian forms), including Anakin Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, and – wait for it – even Jar Jar Binks.
In a unique twist, players also have access to sequences in which they play as “the pork side,” hurling their space pigs at the birds instead of the other way around. Additional new gameplay features, including a grappling hook that lets you swing around obstacles using a rope or, if you’re playing as Mr. Binks, his tongue, have also been added to the game.
Perhaps the biggest change here is developer Rovio’s approach to monetizing the game. While the base game remains a 99-cent download, the company is taking it squarely into the physical world with a series of 30 small rubber toys that are part of this alternate universe. These “telepods” are sold in packs of two, six, or more. By scanning a QR code on the bottom of the toys, players can import new characters (with new powers) into the game. Those who want to stick with the old methods can purchase in-game currency or earn it the hard way, by grinding through levels in a quest for credits. This can then be spent on the new characters, but Rovio has priced the physical toys competitively enough to make them a generally more attractive and affordable option for players who want to experience all the character options the game has to offer.
Gameplay is smooth, detailed, and speedy (particularly on the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon™powered mobile devices, of course). With 100 million copies of the first Angry Birds Star Wars game downloaded to date, Rovio knows it’s got a winning formula on its hands (talons?), and it isn’t meddling with it too much here, keeping the core experience the same while adding just enough new features (and characters) to keep things interesting for returning players.
Are these the birds you’re looking for? Your thoughts betray you…