Bad Piggies Review: The Pigs Shall Rise Again; or, Gone with the Swine

Even though the concept of Angry Birds made me uncomfortable at first – trying to hurt or injure pigs (who I like in real life) with birds (who I despise in real life) didn’t sound like fun – after this game, I definitely want to shoot birds, or anything, at the pigs.

Bad Piggies is a new game from Finnish Rovio Entertainment, the makers of Angry Birds (Angry Birds, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Magic, Angry Birds Southern Murder Mystery… okay that last one was to see if you were paying attention). These are based on the (presumably) centuries-old battle between hog and air-rat, and which I like to pretend is for world domination instead of bird eggs… it’s more interesting that way. This time, however, you’re playing as the pigs, and those petulant swine have a score to settle.

Platforms: iOS
Publisher: Rovio
Developer: Rovio
Genre: If the Three Little Pigs Were the Wright Brothers
Release Date: September 27, 2012
iTunes App Rating: 4+

The nice thing about all these games is their ability to be played by anyone – there are no words, so the illiterate of all ages can enjoy them – and folks of any language can all play the same version and make inferences about what may be going on. Oops, did that sound like a backhanded compliment? It really is a nice idea, actually, but I’m personally one of those people who can’t rely on only pictograms to understand or put together anything, and this is how this operation here is run. Consequently, the story of bird versus pig is overly simplistic to the point of convoluted. I’m all about the motivation behind the actions. In Angry Birds and every incarnation thereafter, the birds are pissed off because these cheeky, devious pigs have been nicking their eggs (which is tantamount to bird genocide) and they fight back against those smug, green, snorting a-holes, who for some reason are only heads without bodies.

In Bad Piggies, I was promised fed-up pigs, manning up and building machines to help their apparently disabled selves crush the bird insurgency. But thus far the main objective is to retrieve pieces of a map that tells the naughty piggies where the eggs are being held, presumably in a heavily guarded compound with razor wire. The premise of the series, which is underscored in this game and with its title, is that the pigs were the original instigators of this war thus making the birds angry to begin with. Their insistence on retaliation against the revenge makes them super bad. Perhaps even evil.

It helps with the “plot” if you imagine that there’s a civil war, a la the American Civil War, and the birds are the Union north and the pigs are the Confederate south. This isn’t a huge stretch if you remember that many a pig in the Angry Birds games was mustachioed. Perhaps because that is exactly what Rovio had in mind. In this case, the eggs represent either slaves or states’ rights.

In any event, pigs never go after the eggs themselves in this game (at least as far as I’ve gotten). Also, there is zero confrontations with birds. All you do is build vehicles to traverse terrain and retrieve the map shreds. So, build contraptions to convey the impish piggies towards pieces of a map that leads to bird eggs. Got it?

Whereas Angry Birds relies on puzzle-solving AND skill (aiming) to be successful, Bad Piggies throws emphasis on just the puzzle-solving. Occasionally you need to figure out the exact moment you need to do something like putting on the brakes or turning on the engine, after much trial and error, but that too is more of a puzzle. Many of the levels, for example, include TNT and the only strategy is knowing, like a suicide bomber, when’s best to blow yourself up.

Yes, there are technically instructions to build the pig-rovers, but like all directions for crap made in China today, they’re pictograms with arrows and cartoon lines that imply what should go where and what should be the result. While this is probably good for children, I felt like I was trying to put together a piece of Ikea furniture.

Because of how difficult some of the vehicles are to build and operate in the rough terrain (they can seem perfectly built but then easily fall apart during use), it’s obvious they want you to utilize the piggy mechanic who, in his jaunty blue baseball cap, can correctly assemble your ride for free up to three times – if you like Bad Piggies on Facebook, or if you pay $1.99 for ten times, $5.99 for thirty-five times, or $9.99 for sixty-five times. Although, I went to “like” it on Facebook for mechanic help and it gave me the three free mechanic “cheats” for just going to Facebook but not actually clicking the “like” button. This is good news for you people who don’t take your “likes” lightly. I suspect this is how Rovio got so many people to like its page, ergo making Rovio and the game appear more likeable/enjoyable in order to sell more downloads when really to play the game you HAVE to. And with 550,000 likes (as of this writing) at a dollar a pop for the game… holy hell. That’s a brilliant marketing plan, even if it is a little devious.

If you see a number up by the piggy mechanic (I call him Fredo), DON’T press it, you’ll end up using up a mechanic turn even if you just wanted to see how many you had left. There’s no “are you sure?” chance – you push button, you use a turn. The mechanic, Fredo, is similar to the eagle in Angry Birds Space, as he gives you a leg up, but unfortunately doesn’t finish nor guarantee the level for you.

There are three worlds in Bad Piggies, for lack of a better word. They are Ground Hog Day, with thirty-six levels, where (you guessed it!) your contraptions are land-based; When Pigs Fly, also with thirty-six levels, where you build flying machines a la the Wright Brothers’ failed prototypes; and a bonus world called Sand Box, which seems to be comprised of difficult bonus levels you unlock by playing the first two modes. There’s also a “Coming Soon” area that’s for an update coming soon.

Each new level in Ground Hog Day gains a new addition to the jalopy you’re building – first you start out with a wheel or two and some boxes, but later on you’ve got metal springs, metal wheels, umbrellas, fans, and two kinds of bottle rocket packs. It’s kind of like if Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were a video game starring pigs. In many cases you will be given more pieces than you can use. In When Pigs Fly, it’s the same concept but with the addition of a sandbag and red balloons. And you can control when the balloons pop. But if they hit a cliffside or something, they pop easily. And occasionally, for no reason, you’ll have to transport two pigs: a regular-sized pig and a giant king pig.

So in the first two worlds, you unlock Sand Box features in the “bonus” world… big deal. Well, if you found any part of Bad Piggies too easy, or boring, or tedious, these bonus levels may be for you; they are super hard and mega frustrating.

You build a GIANT contraption to get through a longer, more difficult course. You may not need all the pieces they give you, but it’ll take some trial and error to figure out what you need and what will propel it and you out of hell. Here’s your parts list for one such level: one pig, eight wooden boxes, two metal boxes, five wooden wheels, two small metal wheels, two large motorized metal wheels, two bellows, two fans, three black bottle rockets, three green ones, one engine, three black umbrellas (that help you slow down), three yellow umbrellas (that help you move forward), two springs, and two boxes of TNT. Any suggestions?

Oh, and did I mention there is no mechanic option in this either? Fredo took the day off or something. What kind of work ethic is that?

Fortunately, your contraption(s) all throughout the game don’t have to make it to the finish line where the map is at the end of each level, just the piggy. So if he goes flying away from the bombed wreckage of his Model T-esque machine, he may still complete the tedious level, allowing you to praise whatever god-like entity you believe in that you don’t have to repeat that particular fracas again. Not having a body that allows the round pig head to continue its journey has its perks, I guess.

I find many of the levels tedious, without the charm of Angry Birds, and difficult enough to just get through without trying to get all the bonus stars in each level. At this point, I’m playing to unlock everything, stars be damned. But on a second run through, (that may never happen) I can see trying to best my initial scores.

Much like indignant southerners who can’t accept the fate of the Confederacy and believes that one day the south shall rise again, Bad Piggies need to be schooled, allowed to secede and then come crawling back to the Union Birds when they realize they can’t fly on their own. Basically, I’m tired of building crap. Give me back my slingshot.

Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Bad Piggies was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.

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