Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: 'Bad Piggies' by Rovio

Mobile superdeveloper Rovio never had to do anything other than Angry Birds. No one would have blamed them for pumping out more installations of their megahit - even when they added new birds or a drastic new style of gameplay - and lived the rest of their lives in goldplated, feathery-soft luxury.  While Bad Piggies, set in the same Birdiverse as Rovio’s popular franchise, might seem like a nice compromise - playing it safe while having enough of a departure to
be unique - it really is its own beast that stands well on its own and provides a legitimate playing experience for diehard gamers.

If you go into Bad Piggies expecting an Angry Birds clone...don’t.  This is sure to either excite or disappoint a lot of people.  You take the role of the antagonistic pigs this time around (as you might expect from the title) and instead of flinging your characters across the screen in an attempt at destruction, you’re building.  That’s right, your job is to build a structure or vehicle out of predetermined objects - some familiar, like wooden boxes and TNT crates, some new like shaken soda bottles - and get your pig from the starting position to the map at the other end of the level.  Like Angry Birds, you’ll get rewarded between one and three stars, but rather than be point-based, your star total hinges on level conditions, such as getting star boxes on your way through the level or not using certain items at your disposal.

This type of gameplay is decidedly slower paced than Angry Birds; while the latter has a lot of trial and error and, if nothing else, you can often luck your way through a level by throwing enough birds at it, Bad Piggies will have you building and rebuilding to get the contraption that you need.  It’s a much more involved process and more difficult than Angry Birds, and whether that appeals to you or not depends simply on your mindset as a gamer.

Aesthetically, the game is exactly what you’d expect.  The graphics are near identical to the Angry Birds series, as are the cutscenes, sound effects, and music.  However, you don’t need much more for this type of game, and it all fits in well with the tone and helps to ground it as part of the Angry Birds family.

Overall, Bad Piggies is an excellent game.  My fear is that it will be judged against Angry Birds - or, worse, be passed over for simply being more of the same.  But that isn’t really fair.  It isn’t trying to be one of those games, and it should be judged on its own merits.  Don’t let the familiar coat of paint fool you: Bad Piggies is an excellent, challenging, and unique game that’s well worth taking a look at regardless of how you feel about Rovio’s other offerings.

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