Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner – Don’t Get Cocky, Kid

The original Star Wars film may have been released over 30 years ago, but the Star Wars universe is still going strong. A good example of this is the wide variety of Star Wars-themed games available in the App Store today.

One of the latest releases is Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner, and it takes all of the fun of the movies and puts you right in the middle of it all. But is it worth the money? Hit the jump to find out.

The Concept

In the first Star Wars movie, there’s a scene where Han, Luke, and the gang are running away from the bad guys, and they have to take to the turrets to mount an attack. Both Han and Luke jump in, and we get to watch as the turrets pulsate back and forth, firing lasers at the enemy ships. If only there was a way to do that for real.

Excellent graphics help make Falcon Gunner a fun game to play.

Excellent graphics help make Falcon Gunner a fun game to play.

Well, there isn’t. But if you want the next best thing, Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is the closest you’re going to get. It’s based on the original arcade title from the ’80s, and has over 20 levels to play through. Controls are done in a few different ways. First, tilt and angle your iPhone to move the ship around, then use your left thumb to angle the turret and right thumb to pull the trigger. When you’ve located a target, it’s highlighted in a square box and you fire away. It’s just that simple.

It’s Not That Simple

This game is tough. To get the TIE Fighters in your view, you have to lean, push, and pull the iPhone in all sorts of directions, working your best to shoot from all angles possible. You don’t have to go in a full circle or anything (not in the regular mode, anyways), but that’s just one part of the process. Adding your left thumb to the mix can make you feel like a contortionist at times, but after a few minutes you can get used to it. The targets aren’t that easy to hit either, and at times can look like a little blip on the screen. Thankfully, the green and blue boxes that form around them make finding them a bit easier.

Aim and shoot at the bad guys.

Aim and shoot at the bad guys.

As the game progresses, there are upgrades. If you’re impatient and just want to buy them, you can do that via the in-game option system. These upgrades make life substantially easier, which is a good thing, because the enemies get tougher as well.

AR Mode

Now the really cool part about this game – and the part everybody is talking about – is AR mode. That’s Augmented Reality for the uninitiated, and it means that the game uses the iPhone’s camera as part of the game. Now every part of the room you’re in is a part of the game, and I mean every part. Now you have to spin around the room 360 degrees to fight the bad guys, making this a game that’s more fun to play in a spinning chair than anything else.

Yes, I'm shooting at a Lego Death Star. How very meta.

Yes, I'm shooting at a Lego Death Star. How very meta.


This is a great game, but only if you have the right hardware. This game will only work on the iPhone 4, iPod Touch 4G, and the iPhone 3GS with iOS 4.1 installed. Otherwise, the game isn’t going to play that well. As an added bonus, the game does have graphics optimized for the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, so that’s really the best device to use in the fight. As usual, it’s best to have the latest hardware possible for the best experience.

Want Some Extras? Go Visit R2-D2.

Want Some Extras? Go Visit R2-D2.

So Is It Worth It?

Well, it is a challenge. As we said before, the gameplay is a little rough at first, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve. It took me about 10 minutes of play to really get the hang of it, but then I had a blast. I did for a few levels anyways, but eventually I hit a wall. Now I’m a pretty experienced gamer, with lots of time behind a joystick to prove it. But I hit a difficulty wall that was pretty frustrating to me – enough that I put down the game for a few days.

That said, I do love playing this game. It’s fun to just pick up and play whenever you have the time. It does take a good 15-30 seconds to load up, but after that you can take down the Empire to you’re heart’s content. You do look like an idiot playing it though, so don’t think this is something you’re going to play in your doctor’s office, unless your doctor is playing The Lion King on loop and you’re under 12.

For me, I think it’s worth the $5. I got my money’s worth for sure, and I know I’ll play it again and again. It’s a must buy for Star Wars fans, and if you’re not one, then it’s a good shooter to have handy. Just remember, “don’t get cocky, kid.”


Play as a member of the Millenium Falcon, shooting down TIE Fighters and other enemies along the way.