- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hordes of destructive fowl invade a galaxy far, far away in the hopelessly addictive Angry Birds Star Wars (Activision and Rovio, reviewed with Wii U, rated Everyone, $49.99).

Considering the Angry Birds game franchise accounted for more than 2 billion downloads since its initial release for iOS systems back in 2009, it shows a staying power stronger than the Force.

So this Skywalker saga spin-off was a welcomed fit for fans. Only once available for mobile devices and desktop computers, it arrives for the Wii U with more than 200 levels available including 20 exclusive to entertainment consoles.

The side-scrolling, puzzle adventure finds a player traveling around the “Star Wars” universe — from Tatooine to Hoth, Dagobah, the Death Star and the Cloud City — and reaping destruction as the Bird Rebellion strikes deep against the Pig Empire.

For those unfamiliar with the Angry Birds premise, a player’s objective is to pull back a slingshot and align the path of an orb-shaped, wingless bird targeting pig heads hidden in and around structures made up of various stacked blocks and objects.

Hit the pigs, causing them to pop into obscurity. Eradicate the snorting enemies and clear the level with birds to spare to reap the greatest point totals and star awards.

Do not succeed and, for the Star Wars edition, Darth Vader: Lard of the Sith appears, mockingly laughing at your failures.

In this Angry Birds edition, fans will find a selection of familiar bird rebels to launch that offers powers to help destroy the structures.

These include an homage to Obi-Wan Kenobi in a bird wearing a Jedi robe that can Force push at the blocks, one wearing a Luke Skywalker haircut that pulls out a lightsaber to cause limited destruction while in mid-air and a vested Han Solo bird that a player can use to shoot areas with his blaster.

Additionally, look to an electrifying R2-D2 (an egg with R2’s noggin on it) for help, Princess Leia equipped with a tractor beam and a beaked C-3PO that explodes into golden shards to break apart a wide swath of a structure.

A nice touch also offers help from Han Solo’s famed ship, the Millennium Falcon. It requires a player launch a homing beacon (silver egg) to trigger the spacecraft to swoop down and attack the area where the egg landed.

Look for Rebels to face some clever as well as puzzling obstacles during the missions such as gravitational fields, pesky asteroids, probe droids shooting lasers at the birds, and blocks of ice that need to be cracked open.

The Wii U tablet offers the versatility of using its touch-screen to control the game or a complete complement of analog sticks, triggers and buttons to handle the birds and view the action from different perspectives.

Yes, that action is cartoony cute throughout with pigs dressed as Tusken Raiders, Stormtroopers and Boba Fett (find his jetpacks to unlock more missions). There are occasional cut scenes plucked from the original trilogy of films, all speckled with “Star Wars” sound effects and rousing musical interludes featuring John Williams orchestral themes.

Additionally, successful players will unlock stickers of the characters, artwork and some really amusing cartoon segments starring the Angry Birds in George Lucas’ fantasy epic (the reimagined Cantina scene finding a gruff bar patron losing part of his pickle at the blade of Obi-Wan is priceless).

Besides solo challenges, a pair of players can cooperatively destroy the Imperial pigs, or up to four players can compete for high point totals.

Of course, its premium point might cause some to scratch their feathered heads as the entire game is available on computer tablets for the eye-popping price of $2.99.

Except not everyone in the galaxy owns a tablet, do they now Grand Moff Tarkin breath, but I’m guessing most kids own an entertainment console.

Despite the choking price point, Angry Birds Star Wars beautifully melds two pop-culture worlds together and delivers a truly memorable casual gaming experience for the entire Rebel family who wields the power of the Wii U.

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