The perfect game for on the tube, Angry Birds managed to turn businessmen, housewives and granddads into self-proclaimed "geeks" and "gamers". It's simplistic, touch-screen design and easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master learning curve got people hooked: As a casual game it was perfect, a pitched blend of basic concepts, universal controls and addictive challenges.
Bad Piggies, Rovio's latest game to hit the App Store, is all of those things, and more. With a similar focus on physics and gravity based puzzles, Bad Piggies has you play as the villainous, green porcine from Angry Birds, inventing and building a series of ramshackle contraptions to help you steal the Bird's eggs. A typical puzzle involves a pig, three wooden boxes, two wheels and a ramp. It's up to you how to combine them; your goal is to make it to the end of the level in one piece.
Rovio's knack for touch-screen puzzle design is immediately clear; despite Bad Piggies' tricky challenges, the controls are totally instinctive. Each level is laid out before you, along with a handful of spare parts that you can drag and drop to build your car, or bike, or aeroplane. Bad Piggies lets you play with speed and balance: If the finish line is at the top of a steep hill, you can glue bottle rockets and fans onto the back of your vehicle to go faster.
It's much more involving than Angry Birds' pull-and-pray setup; Bad Piggies requires you to do a lot more thinking. As such, it has the potential to alienate Birds' fans, or anybody else who can only find time for computer games when they're on the train. Bad Piggies demands much more attention. In Rovio terms, this is a hardcore game.
Bad Piggies has more in common with console and PC games, like Portal and Limbo, than it does with its spiritual predecessor. It isn't a fiddly, badly translated port or rendition of a console shooter, nor is it a throwaway, lightweight, casual game: Bad Piggies is somewhere in between and likely to please mums and sons alike.
And like Portal, Bad Piggies is very funny. The thrown together, homemade look of your rickety car/roller-skate type things is enough to make you smile; the dopey glee plastered on your Piggie's face as he hits top speed will make you laugh out loud: Another reason not to play on the tube.
Part of the fun is in ditching the puzzles completely and just seeing what nonsense you can build out of umbrellas and shopping trolley wheels that Bad Piggies gives you. Instead of using the bottle rockets to drive our car forwards, we strapped them to the underside and watched our Piggie's expression change from excited to concerned as his flimsy go-kart soared into the air - endless, stupid fun.
In all, Bad Piggies is wonderful. Smart, easy to play; difficult and fun in equal portions; hilarious. It's just about light enough to please the Angry Birds/Temple Run crowd, but there is enough substance to Big Piggies to win over console and PC gamers who, until now, might have turned their snouts up at Rovio. Available now on the App Store for just 69p, Bad Piggies is essential. Get it.
Overall Score: 9/10
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