Also On: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
A lot of what I wrote a few weeks ago about the original Angry Birds Trilogy also goes for Angry Birds Star Wars. Much like that previous release, buying the handheld or console version of Angry Birds Star Wars means paying a price that's significantly more than what you'd pay to get it on your mobile device. And also like the original Angry Birds Trilogy, it seems fair to suggest that we're talking about a port that's arriving on Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo consoles long after it achieved original success elsewhere — though in the case of Angry Birds Star Wars, the level of success is only measured in the "paltry" hundred million download range, not the mind-boggling billions-with-a-b phenomenon of the original.
Both of those criticisms are valid and true. But, as I also wrote a few weeks ago, Angry Birds Star Wars is still well worth your time — though maybe not quite to the extent the original was.
Before I write anything else, I should probably note that I'm coming to Angry Birds Star Wars without having played the mobile version. I missed out on it for the first seven months of its existence, and then when they announced the console/handheld versions last summer I decided I would wait for those to arrive to experience the evolution of the franchise.
I mention that because it leads into this point, which I'm sure I'm not the first person to make: Angry Birds Star Wars is a lot less intuitive than the original Trilogy. Whereas those were the essence of simplicity — you fling birds at structures, you make the structures fall over — this time out, you have to contend with things like The Force and planetary gravity (the latter of which, admittedly, was first introduced in Angry Birds Space). Maybe I've just forgotten about learning curves associated with the exploding black bird and the expanding orange bird and the boomerang green bird and such, but these newer innovations seem to a lot harder to pick up than previous changes to the formula.
That said, it's hard to be too mad at Rovio for trying out new things. For one thing, they would've been derided for their laziness — and rightfully so — if they'd simply slapped the Star Wars license on top of plain old Angry Birds. They've made an effort to tie the game into the events of the Star Wars Universe, and, as far as I can tell (because confession #2: I've somehow never seen the movies, and just know them from their pop culture omnipresence), they seem to have adapted pretty faithfully, to the extent a space opera can be adapted to a physics-based casual game.
More importantly, even if some of the new innovations don't work, others are a lot of fun. Adding birds that wield lightsabers and shoot lasers throws a new dynamic into the mix, and the game is clearly better for it.
Simply saying that Angry Birds Star Wars is fun, however, doesn't tell you very much. In fact, it should probably go without saying. The bigger question is, is the game improved by jumping from iOS/Android devices to the Vita (to say nothing of the rest of the systems it's now headed to)?
Much like the Trilogy, I'd say the answer is a pretty unequivocal yes. In terms of looks, there's no question that the game looks prettier on the Vita screen thn it does on a mobile device. Angry Birds Star Wars is one of the few games I can think of that advantage of the different input methods the game has to offer. You can use buttons and the rear and back touchscreens in a variety of ways, and you're never constrained to just one method at any time. In fact, at times — like when you're using The Force — it seems to be encouraged that you use both touchscreens, and it works so well (at least to the extent The Force works well) that I have a hard time imagining how it works on other platforms.
Ultimately, of course, I suspect that performance and looks is secondary for many people to the fact they can get Angry Birds Star Wars on other platforms for, literally, a fraction of the price. While that's certainly a valid argument, as far as I'm concerned, it should be a secondary concern to whether the game is fun. And on that front, the game is a wild success. It's the Angry Birds that, in all likelihood, you've come you know and (hopefully) love, and it's transferred over to the Vita with all the fun intact.