"Sweet and Sour Pork"
There's an old saying that history is written only by the winners. It's true that the recounts of epic battles can come only from the side that won, because the losers had nobody left to share their experiences and tell their side of the story. Thankfully, Rovio finally gave us the perspective from those who had been among history's great villains — the pigs that ate the Angry Birds' eggs. The release of Bad Piggies finally gives the spotlight to these misunderstood creatures, and while their story doesn't make for the same type of game, it's a unique experience that will win some diehard fans.
In addition to having players control the other side of the Bird / Pig War, Bad Piggies inverts the traditional Angry Birds gameplay. Where Angry Birds had players fling birds to destroy the pigs' buildings, Bad Piggies has them build elaborate contraptions used to steal bird eggs. Each level offers a set amount of parts and resources with which to create a crude wheeled vehicle, which is then rolled down a slope towards the pigs' destination, a map containing the locations of the unborn birds. If players build the pigs' vehicles correctly, it'll get to the map in one piece; otherwise, it'll crash and burn, leading to a stranded pig and a restarted level.
Rovio deserves applause for attempting something different with Bad Piggies, creating a new type of game with its characters instead of just another Angry Birds sequel. However, while Bad Piggies has the innovation of its in-franchise rival, it lacks the successful execution. The elegant simplicity of Angry Birds is nowhere to be found in the new game, which instead offers a complicated and often frustrating affair. The pigs' machines have to be built precisely, completely balanced in weight, force, and balance. Placing the different wheels, casings, motors, and other mechanical parts is a convoluted affair, especially compared to the single flick required to send an Angry Bird soaring.
Those expecting Bad Piggies to play like Angry Birds should be sorely disappointed. Instead, Bad Piggies' merits are based on its own strengths. Construction of the Pigs' Rube Goldberg machines requires a unique skill set that is sure to hook some gamers instantly. It takes ingenuity to not only create a well-balanced vehicle, but to maintain that balance when adding rockets, engines, bellows, and other means of forward propulsion. The only downside to this is that some of the gadgets can only be activated in real-time, requiring players to tap a virtual button on the screen, which doesn't have the precision required by the game's meticulous design. Fortunately, this is only an annoyance, and not a deal-breaking game flaw.
Bad Piggies also succeeds in terms of content, matching Angry Birds' improbable value. Both games cost only ninety-nine US cents (free on Android and 4,95 for PC), yet they provide enough levels and challenges to last countless hours. In Bad Piggies' case, this means several levels across multiple larger themes, such as ground levels, "airborne" levels (by way of crude rockets and balloons, anyway), and sandbox levels. The latter have to be unlocked by completing the main levels, but they are easily the most enjoyable part of Bad Piggies, offering many more choices for vehicle parts.
Bad Piggies isn't Angry Birds, and it's probably not as high quality as Angry Birds. It is, however, a unique and compelling title that will earn the misunderstood swine plenty of their own fans. Given the very low price, Bad Piggies should be given a try by anyone with an iOS or Android device.
GameDynamo's Score for Bad Piggies (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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