Angry Birds Star Wars II and Telepods connectivity
This game is available as of yesterday. I downloaded it to my iPhone 4 and have played through the Naboo levels and a few Tatooine ones so far (despite not yet checking out the recent Endor update for the original game). If you're allergic to the Angry Birds Star Wars crossover, carry on, but if you liked the original then you'll be pleased with this fun and clever sequel. (I mean, I like the original game and the accompanying fruit snacks are unexpectedly delicious, but they could probably dial back on the tie-in merchandise and I wouldn't shed a tear.)
As ABSWII seems to cover the prequels, the story starts out with TPM, but the game takes some liberties - Obi-Wan and Padmé are designed to look like their AOTC appearances, and Jango and Dooku fight alongside Sidious and Maul (which, depending on when they ordered the clones, might not be too inaccurate). It's fun to see how they interpreted the PT designs into the Angry Birds world - I particularly like the pig-snout MTT and bird-beak Royal Starship.
This game introduces the ability to play on the "Pork Side," meaning you can either smash Battle Droid pigs as the Jedi or slaughter Naboo Security birds as the Sith, though you have to defeat several levels on one side before being allowed to play on the other. The levels are a mix of ground and space levels, just like the first ABSW. Some of the new powers are fun - Jar Jar uses his tongue as a grappling hook from which he can swing, Yoda ricochets back and forth like a pinball, and Sidious blasts through metal with Force lightning. Obi-Wan has the same Force powers from ABSW, Qui-Gon has a lightsaber similar to Luke, and the Battle Droids fire three blaster bolts just like Han Solo did in the first game.
Of course, if you've been to a store's Hasbro Star Wars toy section lately, next to the 6" figures with shoddy paint applications and the 3 3/4" figures that can't fall off their cards fast enough are the Angry Birds Telepods. I picked up a $5 pack of Jar Jar and Yoda a few days ago (partly since I just like the idea of seeing Jar Jar Binks merchandise anytime after 1999), but I was also curious as to how they'd integrate into the game. The rubbery little toys have a QR code and a hole that allows them to fit on a clear plastic base. During a level in the game, you can tap the Telepods icon at the top of the screen and then place the toy on the phone or tablet's camera. A glowing white shape appears, indicating how to align the base with the camera, which I didn't notice at first. It actually works very quickly and easily, recognizing the character properly each time I've tried it. The character will then take place of whichever bird (or pig) is in the slingshot - you don't get an extra "life," you just replace one. The character is then playable anytime you choose to select it from the menu, so you don't have to scan the toy every time, but you can if you so choose. (But c'mon, it's way more satisfying to tap a toy to the screen than just to select an icon from some menu.) The only real limitation is that you can't play light side characters on dark side levels and vice versa. Some characters are also available to play in limited quantities once you get certain rewards in the game, so it's not like Telepods are the only way to add more characters, but it's a way to add them permanently. But as this is Hasbro's first foray into Skylanders-type interactivity bridging the toy and video game worlds, I think it's pretty successful and neat. We've come a long way since Commtech Chips.