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'Angry Birds Star Wars' is a lightsaber-swinging blast

Angry Birds Star Wars

There is something deeply satisfying about using an Angry Bird wearing the blond hair of Luke Skywalker to take out a pig clad in the armor of a Stormtrooper.  Especially when that Angry Bird is swinging a lightsaber.

If you've ever played an Angry Birds game (and really, who hasn't?) then you have a pretty good idea how this goes. Pull back that slingshot and send Skywalker Bird soaring across the screen of your mobile device. Give the screen a tap and watch as he pulls out his trusty lightsaber and thus, with an electric whooshing sound familiar to all sci-fi nerds, turns every Pigtrooper within reach into sliced bacon.

It's ridiculous. And it's ridiculously fun.

Two mammoth franchises collided Thursday with the launch of "Angry Birds Star Wars." And while I had been skeptical about whether the world really needed yet another Angry Birds spinoff, not to mention another Star-Wars tie-in, the good news for fans of both is that this game is actually good. Really good.

"Angry Birds Star Wars" — now available for just about every mobile device and desktop in the solar system and ranging in price from free to $5 — finds players reliving key scenes from "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" ... but with a bird-flinging twist.

The game starts out on Tatooine and makes its way to the Death Star ... er Pig Star? Death Swine? An additional set of free Hoth-themed levels is forthcoming. And there's also a set of "Empire Strikes Back" Dagobah levels that you can access .... for an additional $1.99, that is.

Throughout these levels, the game delivers a mix of the avian-tossing from the original Angry Birds game along with gravity-pulling elements from "Angry Birds Space" while the whole thing is infused with tons of Star Wars tricks and treats.

Red Bird has been transformed into Luke Skywalker, Black Bird has become Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yellow Bird is Han Solo. And Big Brother Bird is Chewbacca. And the birds now have all new Star Wars-themed powers. Skywalker Bird swings the aformentioned lightsaber. Obi-Wan Bird uses a Force push to clear blocks and enemies. Han Birdie fires off three shots from his blaster to take out enemies in hard to reach corners. And giant Chewie crushes things real good.

Angry Birds Star Wars
Luke Birdwalker gets Jedi training on Dagobah.Rovio

And as you play, you'll unlock bonus levels starring everyone's favorite robo-duo — R2-D2 and C-P3O. R2-D2 can zap enemies with his electrical powers — and he's got quite a reach on him when you time things right. C-3PO explodes into pieces, his metallic chunks sailing apart to take out multiple targets. Meanwhile, the pigs take the form of all sorts of Star Wars foe — from the Tusken Raiders to Darth Pig himself. Tie-Fighters even take on a familiar porky shape.

The birds' new powers and the Star Wars tweaks really spice up the familiar bird-tossing gameplay — not to mention give it all new puzzle-solving depth. For example, on some levels you'll now have to time your bird's flight to dodge enemy laser fire. But then again, maybe you don't want to dodge it. After all, Luke's lightsaber not only slashes through blocks and piggies alike, it can deflect that laser fire to some serious pig-destroying ends. 

There is tons of content here and with the new powers and some brilliantly designed levels, "Angry Birds Star Wars" will keep you wanting to see what they've come up with next. The only real issue I found with the game has to do with the camera — which sometimes drifted into inconvenient positions as I tried to line up my shots. It's annoying, but by no means a deal-breaker.

Ultimately, this Angry Birds/Star Wars mash-up pushes all the right fandom buttons. It's full of clever Star Wars references and it's a blast to play. Most importantly, this isn't just a faux Star Wars finish slapped atop an Angry Birds interior. Two beloved properties have been carefully melded in ways that are sure to please — and amuse — those who love both. 

Rest assured Star Wars and Angry Birds fans ... this is the game you're looking for.

Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.