iPhone App Review: Bad Piggies

There are two sides to every story, and often those perceived as the baddies of the piece have a more interesting time than the goodies. In Rovio’s Angry Birds, we’ve always been on the side of the birds, who’re rightfully indignant over the naughty pigs stealing their eggs.

But what if the pigs’ story is equally, if not more, interesting? Should it not be told, if only to avoid discrimination against them? Rovio certainly thinks so, as its latest game is entitled Bad Piggies, and it puts you in control of the Angry Birds’ mortal enemy.

It turns out that the pigs are still very bad indeed, and there’s no ulterior motive to their theft of the birds’ eggs. Worse still, the game requires you to facilitate the discovery of maps that lead the pigs to the eggs, making you complicit in their hideous crimes. If you think you can live with yourself, then here’s what it’s all about.

Bad Piggies is Rovio’s return to the Angry Birds universe, after the slightly disappointing detour that was Amazing Alex; although interestingly, Bad Piggies is more closely related to Alex than it is to Birds thanks to concentrating on building things instead of destroying them.

In Angry Birds, we saw that the pigs loved to build rickety structures and hide themselves inside. In Bad Piggies, you’re tasked with building similarly dodgy machines that can transport one pig to his destination, where he’ll find another piece of the all-important map.

You’re presented with a grid of squares and a selection of parts to build your contraption. These range from wheels, fans, balloons, wings, and umbrellas, to bottles of fizzy liquid that propel your vehicle along when the lid is removed. It’s completely down to you how you build your machine, with the only essential part being the inclusion of one pig who, like a green, snouty Chuck Yeager, gets to sit inside while you launch it on its way.

Each level’s terrain is similar to that found in Angry Birds, with ridges and troughs (sorry) to navigate before reaching your goal. Collecting the map is only one of the objectives, and Bad Piggies uses the same, familiar three star rating to judge how well you do on each level. The second objective is usually a crate with a star in it, while the third varies, sometimes requiring the level to be completed under a particular time, or without using a certain part.

The secret to beating Bad Piggies’ levels is using all the available parts and those strewn around the level – a discarded box of dynamite often comes in handy for example – in exactly the right way. It’s also just as important to use the tools at the right moment. This could be timing the opening of an umbrella or the firing of the fizzy rockets – each is crucial to beating some of the minimum times.

While Angry Birds could be very satisfying – as in-game destruction often is – getting your contraption right in Bad Piggies never feels quite as good. Early levels are also a bit bland, and you may find your attention wandering, but push through and the technical challenge becomes far greater. So much so, that the game will almost certainly be out of reach for very young ones who enjoyed the Angry Birds’ antics.

If you want to play it seriously and are aiming for three stars on each level, then expect to have to repeat each one several times, as the best vehicle design and the points where items need to be used isn’t always immediately obvious.

Bad Piggies is a huge amount of fun, something that was missing from Amazing Alex, and its physics, graphics and audio are all as delightful as you’d expect from Rovio. In fact, the menus, screens and star rating system are identical to Angry Birds, so players of that game will feel right at home. Rovio has implemented a similar in-app purchase system too, with the chance to buy “mechanics” to help you build your machine, a lot like the Mighty Eagle in Angry Birds.

Rovio’s Bad Piggies is a “grower”, in that you’ll give it a few tries and not think much of it, but within a few hours you’ll want to go back and play again. And again. Angry Birds had the same effect, and if Rovio has the same level of development planned for Bad Piggies as it did with that game – and players embrace it in the same way – then it has another huge hit on its hands.

Bad Piggies is available on the iPhone for £0.69, and as an HD iPad app for £1.99.

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