Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds Star Wars came as a shock. We expected series creator Rovio Entertainment to dream up new ways to expand the franchise. A potential blockbuster deal with Lucasfilm (recently sold to Disney for roughly $4 billion) wasn't at the top of the list. That said, the highly anticipated video game, slated to arrive November 8 for iOS, Android and other platforms, will most likely have tremendous staying power for months to come, and for good reason, as it appears to be the perfect marriage between one of the most successful smartphone/tablet games of all time, and the sci-fi super power set in a galaxy far, far away.

With this in mind, Rovio has been tight-lipped on specific features, teasing its fans on the official Angry Birds Tumblr with beautifully-illustrated pictures from Star Wars: Episode IV, complete with birds and pigs alike, along with teaser videos that showcase short snippets of gameplay.

That said, it appears that Angry Birds Star Wars retains the critically acclaimed and reliable slingshot mechanics that made this IP a worldwide sensation, but with Star Wars window dressing. To that end, the characters have taken on new personas. The familiar red bird, for instance, is Luke Skywalker, complete with blue lightsaber and Tatooine fatigues. The pink bird, on the other hand, was transformed into Princess Leia, signature hair buns perfectly intact. Other characters include the yellow bird playing that scoundrel, Han Solo, bomb bird as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the white bird as C-3PO and an egg filling in for R2-D2.

Of course, it wouldn't be an Angry Birds game without their foes, the pigs. As expected, the diabolical swine take on the visage of the evil Empire. Seduced by the dark side of the Force, King Pig plays Darth Vader, while his minions dress up as Stormtroopers, AT-AT drivers, Snowtroopers and other villains.

Based on what we've seen of the game in action, this is more an evolution of Angry Birds Space. One scene, taking place during the epic Battle of Yavin from Episode IV (where the first Death Star gets destroyed), features gravity manipulation that takes a page directly from Space, with C-3PO and R2-D2 eliminating pigs designed to resemble TIE Fighters. On a side note, C-3PO appears to break apart, with the pieces causing further damage around the screen, while his counterpart seems to possess an electrical attack.

In yet another scene, this one taking place outside the famous Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker bird delivers a swirling lightsaber attack that decimates pigs dressed as Sand People, AKA Tusken Raiders. Then, while on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, Leia blasts an AT-AT with lasers, causing the mechanical contraption to topple over, resulting in a chain reaction; all the birds thus far have abilities unlike those in previous Angry Birds games.

Naturally, we still have many unanswered questions. Rovio already admitted to creating level packs based on the films, but hasn't mentioned which movies will come with the initial download; we speculate Episode IV: A New Hope will kick things off. For now, though, Angry Birds Star Wars appears to be another promising extension for both brands, and unless the developers somehow mess this up, we expect it to become one of the hottest titles this holiday season and beyond.