Bad Piggies: A Long-Awaited Porcine Pleasure

Ever since being launched in December 2009, Angry Birds has carved a name for itself in the gaming world. By combining comical graphics with addictive gameplay and chirpy idents, it’s become one of the most played and well-known games of its time. That’s a tough act to follow.

Instead of relying on that classic gameplay that we all know and love, Rovio’s taking a risk by putting out a completely different game mechanic using the anarchists of the franchise — the pigs. Is Bad Piggies a show-stopper like its predecessor, or will it be met by the incessant grunts of avian-diehards? Let’s find out.

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Getting Started

The game is certainly not the story from the pig’s point of view, rather a preface to the birds’ anger. The eggs at this point are not yet stolen, hence the lack of quick-tempered avians. This lets us ask and resolve a key question: How did the eggs get stolen in the first place?

The objective of the game is to build up a contraption that transports the pig from a designated starting point to the finish line, usually indicated by a map. This might sound a bit strange at first, as there isn’t really any discernible element of challenge to the game. So of course there’s a catch.

The first challenge.

The first challenge.

You have a limited amount of parts and a grid that varies in size depending on the level, which is where you put the parts in. This is where you have a little freedom in terms of creativity; you can try as many combinations of parts as you like until you succeed in reaching your destination.

These contraptions are made of wood and rock like the towers in Angry Birds, however, there are numerous other extras you can add to your masterpiece, ranging from simple things like blocks and wheels to more abstract items such as umbrellas (for air resistance) and rockets to give you an extra boost.

Gameplay

Once you’ve finished constructing the pig’s medium of transport, you press play to get things going. Instead of attempting to earn as many stars as possible on the way. You get one base star for completing the level, and the other two for various other reasons consisting of things like how fast you do it in, how many parts you used, etc.

The criteria for each star is represented by an icon at the top of the screen.

The criteria for each star is represented by an icon at the top of the screen.

One thing I liked about this game in contrast to others of its type is its interactive nature. Instead of pressing play to watch your contraption go, you can actually interact with it and guide it through the level. This allows for a better relation between the player and their creation, like it’s their own personal success.

The extra parts also spice things up somewhat during gameplay. During the beginning you can use these parts for an unnecessary boost, but as you progress and the levels become increasingly harder, using theses parts become compulsive to achieve certain goals and even complete the level in the first place.

Bigger grid means more parts, and therefore more ways to assemble them.

Bigger grid means more parts, and therefore more ways to assemble them.

This is where I think Bad Piggies gets an edge over its predecessor — it’s much harder. Even towards the end of Angry Birds, I still felt the absence of a challenge, despite it taking me a few tries to complete a level. The challenging aspect of the porcine alternative will give it more appeal to an older age group that don’t buy games purely for the gimmick.

Due to the increasing complexity of levels, the more creative you must be as you battle your way through the game. As the grid size and amount/diversity of parts rises, there are mathematically more combinations of parts that you can select, which increases quite dramatically even with a small adjustment. I would go into the math, but we might stray a bit off topic!

So many ways to arrange everything!

So many ways to arrange everything!

This aspect of creativity is somewhat limited, however, as there are normally very few correct ways to do it in contrast to the amount of potential designs you could come up with.

Design

As expected, the graphics throughout the game are colourful, lively and animated with the pigs retaining their comic charm.

Everything looks and plays great.

Everything looks and plays great.

The music throughout doesn’t reflect the chubby avian world — which is a pleasant change. Instead, it gives off a fun tone with a slightly more intricate twist. I doubt it’ll be an iconic melody like in Angry Birds, however, it’s certainly more interesting. The intro tune sounds like it could have a place in a medieval-style puzzler.

The levels become surprisingly complex to overcome as you progress, which is a big shift from what we’re used to from Rovio. There’s a point where this morphs from an Angry Birds spin-off into a challenging puzzle game, and you can distinguish and differentiate between the two like this.

When you get stuck, the only way to get through is by trial and error (unless you feeling like buying in my opinion overpriced IAPs that autocomplete the level),which can become slightly annoying in the harder levels. This, however, does increase the satisfaction once you finally force your way through the level, although it does dull the creative side of things, becoming essentially a guessing game.

Conclusion

Angry Birds is based on a gimmick; fat, oversized birds hurling themselves at wooden walls in a seemingly futile attempt to recover eggs seems like anybody’s day of fun, which is the reason why the concept was so popular (with a little marketing in between). The reason why I like Bad Piggies is that it’s definitely a change in the game engine as opposed to the storyline and theme, similar to what Rovio accomplished in Angry Birds Space.

So does the game contain enough highs to hit the bar set by its predecessors? It’s hard to say. While I love some bird-slinging action now and again, I think that I prefer the Piggies over the Birds when it comes to long periods of gameplay due to the latter being more of a challenge and that it allows for some creativity. This may push some casual gamers that were expecting another bird-slinger away, however.


Summary

The flip-side to Angry Birds that offers addictive gameplay, intuitive level design and a splash of comical animation that never fails to draw you in.

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