New 'Star Wars' app: These are the Droids you're looking for

Star Wars Pit Droids is anything but the pits. Based on the eponymous PC game, it's an engaging puzzler.

Star Wars Pit Droids.
Star Wars Pit Droids. Screenshot by Rick Broida

At first blush, Star Wars Pit Droids might seem like a hasty attempt to cash in on the theatrical re-release of "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace."

Instead, it's merely the appropriately timed app version of a Windows game that debuted almost 13 years ago. And you know what? It's as terrific now as it was then.

The droids in Pit Droids are the saucer-headed ones you saw clanking around Tatooine before the Pod Race. Owing to some shoddy programming, all they can do is march single-file in one direction. Watto (remember him?) assigns you to deploy directional arrows to get the droids to their proper destination.

Simple premise, challenging execution. Each level consists of a tiled grid, and to earn the maximum number of stars, you have to create the shortest route from A to B, using the fewest number of tiles.

It's easygoing for the first couple levels, but before long you're having to direct different-color droids to different destinations using specialized arrows, all while avoiding obstacles and preventing collisions.

The games has 75 levels (about a quarter of what the original game offered--maybe level packs are imminent?) spread across four locales: a transport ship, Watto's shop, Hutt Flats, and Mos Espa. To move past the first locale, you need to earn a certain number of stars--meaning just finishing each level might not be enough. If you don't find the shortest routes, you may not have enough stars.

Surprisingly, Pit Droids eschews John Williams' familiar score in favor of a rather jazzy, upbeat soundtrack. To me it seems an odd fit for the game, but at least you're treated to the occasional high-quality "Star Wars" cut scene.

Ultimately, this is a cute little puzzle game, one that's more likely to appeal to younger players, but still a good diversion for any fan. If you decide to go see "The Phantom Menace" in 3D, it'll give you something to do whenever Jar-Jar Binks appears.

(I kid, I kid. I'll take heat for this, but I didn't hate Jar-Jar. In fact, I thought "The Phantom Menace" was the best of the three prequels. But that's faint praise, because they were all soul-crushingly bad.)

Pit Droids costs $1.99.

 

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