More forced than blessed with the Force, this app of the oft-reviled first Star Wars prequel will nevertheless please some fans.
Not unlike the film it’s based on, the storybook-app version is packed with clutter, has a story that clangs when it should sing and feels bloated. An opening “Loading assets” screen takes far too long to get going, and the story still stinks. But that won’t matter to young Star Wars fans and apologists for the prequels, who’ll find a lot to love. There’s a full-blown pod-racing arcade game included that’s surprisingly deep; it has a large selection of vehicles and characters and keeps track of points earned by navigating the “Story Experience” narrative or by winning races. Those points also unlock “Profiles” about characters, settings and vehicles from the story. The artwork and animation are lush, the narration has verve, and the sound effects and music are terrific. The pages themselves are panoramas that can be scrolled by touch or by moving the device left and right. It’s a neat trick, almost as neat as the optional pod-racing game controls allowing the iPad to be moved around rather than controlled by clunky on-screen buttons.
The app’s primary appeal lies in the presentation of a template that may work out better when A New Hope and its two sequels arrive in the Star Wars Journeys series. (iPad storybook app. 6-12)