Star Wars: Trench Run (iPhone/iPod)

For all intents and purposes, the new iPhone game Star Wars: Trench Run is the updated spiritual successor of Atari’s classic 1983 Star Wars arcade game. In the original, players alternated between shooting TIE Fighters buzzing around the perimeter of the Death Star, and racing through the Death Star’s trench in order to blow it up (over and over). Star Wars: Trench Run consists of these same two levels, repeated with minor variances.

That’s not to say anyone could confuse the two games by looking at them. The arcade version of Star Wars used color vector graphics — essentially stick drawings — to convey the action. In contrast, Star Wars: Trench Run opens with almost a minute of near DVD-quality video taken right from the movie, and contains graphics indistinguishable from last decade’s movie special effects. Likewise, Trench Run contains audio samples straight from the Lucas archives.

Star Wars (1983)

Star Wars: Trench Run (2009)

Where the original arcade game gave players a flight yoke with which to control their X-Wing fighter, Trench Run uses the iPhone’s gyroscopic controls. Waving your phone around causes your X-wing to dip, climb and swerve. The constant movement of your phone ensures no one will be able to see what’s on the screen at any given time. It also kind of makes you look like a goof ball; then again, most of us Star Wars fans are used to that. The game’s flight controls can be inverted as well. Shooting is performed by touching the right side of the screen. The bottom left allows players to “use the Force” and slow down the action temporarily, while the upper left swaps between 1st and 3rd person views. The motion controls work perfectly and, especially when flying an X-Wing, I thought they added to the game’s fun.

Star Wars: Trench Run looks and plays so great that it took almost ten minutes for me to realize how repetitive the game was. I shot a few TIE Fighters, flew through the trench, shot a few more TIE Fighters, flew threw the trench again, shot some more TIE Fighters, and then wandered off to go check my Facebook updates. I can’t see playing Trench Run for hours on end, but I do see myself playing it a few minutes each day, which is all a guy can ask from a mobile phone game.

The game’s overall quality makes Star Wars: Trench Run a must own title, especially for Star Wars fans. (It’s a lot more impressive than showing off that free lightsaber app over and over, trust me.) My first instinct was to say that $4.99 is slightly overpriced, until you realize that $3 probably goes toward licensing fees, leaving you a $1.99 game that’s impressive to show off and lots of fun to play for a while. May the Force be with your wallet.

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