Angry Birds proved to be a runaway hit for Rovio Entertainment if the millions of dollars and handful of spin-offs are any indication, but after the Finnish studio broke out of their shell to develop Amazing Alex, their Rube Goldberg puzzler released to middling reception. Now, Rovio’s returning to the universe of their first cash cow (or cash pig in this case) to give gamers some insight into the cowardly swine that have long hidden under frustratingly resilient structures.
Rovio’s not afraid to experiment, as Bad Piggies does not follow in Angry Birds’ footsteps. The king ham still hasn’t given up his quest for a delicious omelet, but his subordinates won’t be trading roles with their feathered rivals, blasting apart birds’ nests with cannons or slingshots. Instead, an early encounter with fan blades scatters a map to the eggs all over the piggies’ island. To recover the shredded pieces, you’ll need to overcome the habitat’s inclines, caves, and multi-story falls to the sandy beaches below by engineering makeshift vehicles from crates, umbrellas, TNT, soda bottles, wheels, motors, balloons, and springs. The ease of dragging and dropping objects into position plays very much like a 2D Banjo Kazooie: Nuts ‘N’ Bolts, though sometimes you’ll need to sacrifice your beloved transport in a well-timed TNT detonation.
Real thought needs to be given to each piece’s placement and to the type of contraption that will guide your portly passenger to safety, even when the gameplay boils down to trial and error. Find yourself gaining too much momentum down a hill’s decline? Lessen the weight by removing a wheel, or activate a soda bottle’s fizzy propulsion to reduce the speed of descent. Is your craft shattering upon colliding with a cave’s rocky floor? Attach an umbrella to slow the rig’s plummet, or add springs for more flexible results. Toiling over and testing each vehicular failure should bring a well-deserved smile to your face when your porky pilot finally rolls across the finish line. If only the piggies grew on you like the disgruntled fowl. Their nutty squeals and giggles had me reaching for the mute button despite the catchy theme music.
Building a vehicle's as simple as dragging pieces to their desired locations.
Contrary to the breadth of assembly pieces, Bad Piggies is slow to expand upon its creative allure. In reclaiming the torn bits of paper, many puzzles contain one solution, maybe two, if you hope to keep your contraption intact. Of course, you’ll be bargaining with inconsistent physics. Half the time, a vehicle’s chance of success falls to a dice roll, and buggies I just finished a stage with no longer functioned as intended.
But each shortcoming only sent me back to the drawing board with more ideas rummaging around in my head. The construction process brought out my inner mad scientist on the hunt for those elusive gold stars, and unlike its avian precursors, Bad Piggies reveals the requirements for these golden medals. Objectives range from keeping your passengers cushioned or not using specific parts, to breaking star crates hidden off the prescribed path and ensuring the vehicle survives unscathed. Collecting three stars in one run is rarely possible, so you need to think outside the wooden box.
Only in a universe with appendage-less pigs and slingshotting birds could this blueprint possibly work.
The gold stars do more than just give you bragging rights over your friends, too. Three-starring enough levels unlocks the Sandbox mode, which lets inner imaginaries run wild. By then you’ll have earned enough spare parts to build jalopies with the stimulating freedom that the regular stages sorely lack. This mode may only consist of five stages, but each setting harbors twenty stars spread throughout the lengthy environments. You need to master the uses of both ground and air propulsion if you have any hope of collecting that final antagonizing star.
There’s no denying Rovio's cheeky, flightless fowl capitalized on the iPhone’s touch interface, yet the developers' experience with the device shows, as designing rigs that defy the laws of motion takes mere seconds. The levels could do with less building limitations per vehicle, though Sandbox mode corrects that oversight. With a tab already in place for future DLC (and given the number of Angry Birds spin-offs), I have no hesitations saying that gamers, and the piggies, have merely seen the tip of the creative iceberg.
Publisher: Rovio Entertainment
Developer: Rovio Entertainment
Release Date: September 27, 2012
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: iOS (Reviewed), Android, Mac