The Battle of Yavin, which takes place at the end of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is easily one of the best movie scenes ever made. So you'd probably think that a video game based on this scene would be a lot of fun too, and THQ's new Star Wars: Trench Run for the iPhone and iPod touch shows that you would be right. However, since previous Star Wars video games have sometimes covered three or even six entire movies within a single game, you would probably also wonder how a single scene could possibly be stretched into a complete video game - and unfortunately, the game doesn't have much of an answer there.
Yavin Fun Yet? You know the story: Luke Skywalker flies his X-Wing into the trenches of the Death Star as it approaches the Rebel Base on the Yavin moon. Succeed, and the Death Star is destroyed, preventing the Empire from causing any more damage (at least for now). Fail, and the Rebel Alliance is toast. Oh, and by the way, there's also a fleet of Twin-Ion Engine (TIE) Fighters and Bombers - including one piloted by Darth Vader - who want to blow you out of the sky.
Trench Run has several different levels and modes, starting with a dogfighting level where you take on TIE fighters. You control your X-Wing using the accelerometer. The screen is divided into four (invisible) quadrants, so you can tap on the screen to fire your weapon, toggle the cockpit view, pause the game, or enter slow-motion mode, depending on which part of the screen you tap on. To complete the first level, you must destroy all of the TIE fighters within the time limit.
With some games, using the accelerometer to control your character sounds great on paper but ends up being quite frustrating in practice. However, the accelerometer works remarkably well in Trench Run, making it easy and fun to make sharp turns and quick maneuvers with your X-Wing while you're chasing TIE Fighters or avoiding their fire.
Once you've survived the dogfighting, the next level takes you into the trenches. Besides avoiding fire from turrets and returning their fire, you will also need to steer your X-Wing carefully around a variety of walls, towers, and other obstacles to avoid crashing. Starting about halfway through the level, you will also have to avoid fire from Darth Vader in addition to the other challenges. If you make it to the end, you will get a chance to fire proton torpedoes into the Death Star's exhaust port.
So now you've completed two levels, and you probably feel thrilled and ready to take on the whole Empire singlehandedly. The menu screen makes it look like you still have tons of levels and modes to play - but it turns out they are all minor variations on the first two levels, such as starting the trench run at different points in the trench. I knew it would be difficult to make an entire game out of one scene, but I was hoping Trench Run would have more of an answer to that challenge than "just play the same level over and over." The game does feature an Internet leaderboard so you can compare your scores against those of other people, but this doesn't really enhance the replay value unless you actually have the time and dedication to try to become literally the best in the world.
Trench Run was reasonably stable on my second-gen iPod touch. It did crash occasionally, but somehow the crashes usually only happened when trying to start a level, not in the middle of a level, which means you are unlikely to lose any progress or feel any frustration - nice!
Graphics Star Wars: Trench Run is a good-looking game. There aren't many graphics effects that are eye-poppingly amazing, but nonetheless the X-Wings, TIE Fighters, laser blasts, and Death Star components are rendered accurately in three dimensions with smooth animation. The graphics feature a high level of detail and are roughly on par with the visuals of a Nintendo 64 game.
After each level, the game shows an actual movie clip of either the Death Star blowing up or a planet being destroyed by the Death Star, depending on whether you won or lost. This is a nice touch, although you'll probably start tapping the screen to skip the clip after the first few times.
Sound The audio in Star Wars: Trench Run is simply flawless. All the ships and weapons have their trademark sound effects, and classic Star Wars music plays in the background. There are even occasional voice clips from the movie. In short, the sound effects in Trench Run recreate the feeling of the original movie scene perfectly.
The X-Wing Factor By faithfully recreating the Battle of Yavin, Star Wars: Trench Run provides an authentic thrill that is fun and exciting to play. The obvious problem with the game, however, is that it will probably only last you a couple of hours (maybe even less) before you are finished with it. THQ and Infrared5 could've done a lot more with an X-Wing flying game for the App Store, but nonetheless, since it only costs about $5, Trench Run is a worthwhile download for anyone who is a fan of the Star Wars films... in other words, everybody!
Graphics: Although it doesn't break any new ground, the graphics are solid and accurate. 4.0/5.0 Sound: Awesome music and sound effects, and even some dialog straight from the movie! 5.0/5.0 Addictivity: Come on, how could you possibly get addicted to a game that essentially has only two levels? 1.5/5.0 Fun Meter: Although the game is much too short, you'll definitely enjoy it while it lasts. 3.5/5.0
Hints & Tips -When maneuvering your X-Wing around obstacles, your perspective an be difficult to tell exactly where you are located relative to the obstacle. However, you can work around this by aiming your target crosshairs through the obstacle instead of trying to look at the location of the X-Wing itself. -During trench runs, stay focused primarily on maneuvering your X-Wing through the obstacles in front of you. Although you will need to pay some attention to avoiding and returning enemy fire, if you allow that to become a significant distraction, you will probably crash.