Rovio's done it again. After three years, and countless reiterations, Angry Birds is still lots of fun.
Angry Birds Star Wars - available on the App Store for 69p, free on Google's Play store (with ads) or 79p on Windows Phone Marketplace - puts a sci-fi spin on the traditional birds v piggies gameplay, retracing George Lucas' iconic movie franchises through a series of colourful, goofy physics puzzles.
Reappropriating locations from the films, Angry Birds Star Wars starts on Tatooine, with your basic red bird dressed up in a Luke Skywalker hairdo. Aside from the recognisable backdrops, and funny cutscenes (Darth Vader is three piggies balanced on top of each other with a black cloak on) the opening levels of Angry Birds Star Wars are more or less as per.
It's only when you start to unlock the power-ups that the game gets interesting.
Obi-Wan shows up, and can smash blocks using the Force. Just fly close to something, tap the screen and anything holding the piggies up, or dangling above them will come crashing down in typically hilarious fashion. Luke, too, gets more powerful, eventually learning how to use a lightsabre just like in the movies.
It's handy for clearing things out of your flight path or scuppering a support strut on one of the piggies' ramshackle buildings.
The Chewbacca bird is just plain big, wading into the piggy basecamps with awesomely destructive force. Then there's Han with his laser pistol, which is Han-dy (ho ho) for popping a cap in any hard to reach swine.
The piggies themselves come in different guises, trussed up as Tusken Raiders or protected by Stormtrooper armour. They have guns, too, and can knock your birds off course with a laser blast if you don't time things right.
Think tactically, however, and their ham-handed (ha ha) inaccuracy can be used to your advantage; an early level sees one gun toting piggy stuffed inside a cartwheel. Break his chocs with a well-placed bird, and he'll go rolling down a hill, zapping his fellow pigs with panicked laser fire as he does.
Humour is still Angry Birds' selling point and the Star Wars re-skin brings it in spades. Melodramatic moments from the films are redone with quirky simplicity, harkening back to the slapstick and prat falls of LEGO Star Wars.
It's blatant fan bait, too. If Angry Birds' reputation as THE iPhone game wasn't a license for Rovio to print money already, wrapping Star Wars around it should net them enough cash to build their own Death Star.
Superlative profit margins aside, Angry Birds Star Wars is not without its flaws. The power-ups are there, but other than that there's not much new about to Rovio's latest game.
It's fun, but very cynical, a movie cash-in built on the idea that people will buy anything. It's the computer game equivalent of a Happy Meal toy, just bright and colourful enough to punters to cough up, offering little in the way substance and forgotten about in a few days.
It's still fun, though, and occasionally tricky - if you can still get excited about Angry Bird's three-year old, one-note mechanic, the difficulty curve in this Star Wars version is just steep enough to keep you playing.
Fan service and comedy value will shift plenty of Angry Birds Star Wars downloads. Apart from that, it's mere throwaway fun, perfect for on the tube, but maybe, just maybe starting to get a bit old.
Overall score: 7/10
To contact the editor, e-mail: