Are you ready for a brand-new take on “Star Wars?” Because Thursday (March 27), Disney Interactive and LucasArts launch a mobile game that allows you to take on the roles of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and more as part of “Star Wars: Assault Team.”
You can watch the exclusive story trailer right here, right now. But in advance of the game’s release on iOS, Android, and Windows Devices, MTV News talked to Chris Aylott, lead designer for the game, and studio director Janus Anderson about how the game came to be.
“Chris and I have a long history of making clickable card games,” Anderson said over the phone. “We heard we got ‘Star Wars’ at Disney, and when it came available for us to make a game around, that was the very first thing I started pitching.”
The game itself is set in the time period between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back.” Meaning Luke has blown up the Death Star, but we’re not on the ice planet Hoth just yet.
Part of the reason for this setting was the limitations of not being able to continue the story post-”Return of the Jedi” for obvious, “Episode VII”-related reasons. But it was also a favorite time period for the team at Disney.
“While we’re fans of the whole universe,” Aylott noted, “it was that first trilogy that hit us between the eyes and turned us into fans in the first place.”
When it came time to choose a specific time period for the all original game story, the designers realized the area between “Episode IV” and “Episode V” was a bit barren.
Back in the 1980s, Marvel Comics — which was also recently bought by Disney — did a series set in the period, but otherwise not much had been written about Luke’s post-Death Star days.
“It’s a relatively quiet area in the extended universe,” Aylott continued. “Trickiest thing is, we wanted to keep the archetypical elements, the elements that make ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Star Wars.’ But at the same time we didn’t want to do ‘A New Hope’ all over again.”
So what are those basic elements? Having been hands-on with the game for a day, it kicks off with the classic “Star Wars” music and scroll, setting up the story that Han Solo has been captured, and is trying to get a new weapon to fight the evil Empire. Then you’re whisked to a prison where players are neatly walked through the basic mechanics of the game.
You start by controlling Han as he escapes, through a series of turn-based battles that will be familiar to anyone who’s played an RPG (Role Playing Game). But quickly you also get control of Chewbacca, and then a few other characters.
Each has as a basic attack, plus a special ability: for example, Han has a “lucky shot” that pretty much kills Stormtroopers on contact; and Chewbacca has a yell that replenishes his health, and also allows him to protect the other members of your team.
It might sound complicated, but it’s pretty easy to get the knack of quickly. And there’s a basic thrill for any red-blooded ‘Star Wars’ fan in taking out Darth Vader’s minions while being chased by a giant Rancor.
Each of the playable characters takes the form of an animated card, though Anderson was quick to note that this is not just a run-of-the-mill “collectible card game,” as those contain random battle elements; while “Assault Team” has a stronger emphasis on strategy.
“I wanted to make a next generation version of that,” Anderson said. “Which is a collectible card game, like Magic The Gathering, but with a much lighter touch.”
Unlike a card game though, you get to blast stuff. A lot. The actual visuals of the game are fluid animations that move through an area — often ones familiar to “Star Wars” fans — as you fight squads of enemies. And over the course of the game, players will meet numerous fan favorites.
“We’re right between four and five,” Aylott said. “So if you think of the characters you meet around then, you might have a fair idea.”
So no Jar Jar Binks, then?
“I’ve occasionally made some comments that he must be out in the universe somewhere,” Aylott joked, “And then all of the other designers sit on me.”
Sorry fans: we’ll just have to wait for the sequel to see, “Jar Jar Binks: Assault Team.”
Until then, you can pick up “Star Wars: Assault Team” at the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Phone Store and Windows Store today (March 27). It will be coming soon to the Amazon App Store, as well.