A promising start and very close to bringing home the bacon, but this game’s sometimes a bit of a boar.
Bad Piggies HD Review
by on January 18, 2013
Since striking it rich with Angry Birds, Rovio’s been criticised in some quarters for milking the franchise rather than using an increasingly bulging war chest to experiment a bit and come up with new games. Even Amazing Alex wasn’t a new direction, given that it was acquired and resprayed rather than built from scratch. Bad Piggies addresses the ‘can you guys really only do Angry Birds these days?’ accusation, even if it’s also not entirely original.
The basic premise is the rotund green pigs need to collect pieces of a map so they can locate the birds’ eggs. Clearly, they are the ‘big bads’ in this gaming universe. Being bereft of common sense, they decide the obvious course of action is to use whatever comes to hand to build ramshackle vehicles they can use to dodder, zoom or fly to their goal. The idea isn’t exactly brimming with innovation: well-received Xbox 360 title Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts does much the same thing, as do several stages in iBlast Moki 2 on iOS. However, Rovio deserves credit for the refreshingly simple manner in which the eccentric contraptions are built.
Eschewing free-form design, Bad Piggies presents a specific per-level grid and set of squarish pieces – boxes, wheels, rickety engines, and bottles of pop to be shaken and released at an opportune moment to propel you onwards – or upwards. At first, the system is great, like a toy-box to explore; the reality is the game wants you to create one or two very specific vehicles per level, to grab the map and complete other challenges, such as collecting star boxes and hidden skulls, or not using specific parts. Throughout, we were torn by this; we liked the game eradicating the frustrating randomness evident in Angry Birds, but we felt stymied and forced into constant trial and error. With some levels being large and heavily reliant on precise timing, we loved Bad Piggies a little less the more we played it.
The illusion of choice at least to some extent becomes actual choice once you’ve worked through the game’s episodes. You start out building carts in Groundhog Day; next, you head skywards in When Pigs Fly, making the most out of contraptions powered by fragile balloons that would make any health-and-safety-oriented engineer shudder; and finally, Flight in the Night involves high-powered devices and occasional Sonic-like hillside loops, and demands you get an egg to the end of the course along with a pig. On completing enough stages, sandboxes are unlocked and parts collected, eventually providing you with the means to create massive, truly absurd vehicles. (For aficionados, a £1.99 Field of Dreams IAP takes this to epic levels, boasting 300 parts.) Again, though, levels are too often unforgiving, taking the edge off of the game’s promise.
In a sense, Bad Piggies resembles a classic cartoon: there’s an initial spark of huge enjoyment and genuinely amusing slapstick moments (complete with over-the-top sproing! effects and comic-book-style captions); but the repetition irks when you’re ‘forced’ to experience it again and again. There are, of course, inevitable cheat modes – you can buy mechanics to build optimised solutions for each level, but you’re still tasked with figuring out correct timings. We just ended up watching solutions on YouTube when totally stuck.
On iPad, there’s also a lack of Retina graphics, and an iffy interface that forces you to play on a table or hold your device awkwardly to reach all the buttons. And yet despite its problems, something about Bad Piggies kept drawing us back. It’s imperfect and could do with extra polish and fine-tuning, but it has potential—rather like the contraptions you create.
Download this app: Bad Piggies HD for iPad
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Review courtesy of Tap!