Angry Birds maker Rovio’s latest game Bad Piggies topped the paid apps chart on Apple’s App Store within a few hours of being launched, but can it stay there? After all, in July, Rovio also released a somewhat similar game, Amazing Alex, which also topped the App Store charts almost instantly. It also quickly faded and isn’t even in the top 100 today.
Bad Piggies is available for iPod Touch and iPhone users for $0.99, and for $2.99 you get the HD iPad version. There is also a free, ad supported, Android version. We played the game on a Sony Android device.
The game tells the pig’s side of the story—your hungry green troops are out to get eggs and start cooking, and it’s up to you to help them on the quest. Angry Birds’ simple slingshot mechanic is out, replaced by a far more complex system, where you are given some blank pegs, and different tools that you can fit in them, to create vehicles for the piggies.
How does this work? The early levels are really simple—your starting point is on top of a hill, and you just need to place a few boxes (for balance) and some wheels under them, and then let gravity do all the work. After a couple of simple levels with just these tools, you start to get different contraptions to use in building the piggies vehicles.
One of the first tools you get is a set of bellows, which can provide a nudge to the vehicle. You need to plan ahead and figure out which direction you have to move in, before attaching the bellows, since you can’t change a contraption once the level is in motion.
That’s just a start though, and you quickly move to more advanced tools, such as crates of TNT which can explode to provide you with a last minute boost, or propellers for some high flying action. Each level has three different objectives, so some levels will give you three stars if you complete the level with the pig still in a box, and the vehicle undamaged, while in other levels, you get stars for finishing quickly.
While the early levels have the same simplicity of Angry Birds, Bad Piggies quickly becomes a difficult game to play, particularly if you’re trying to get all three stars. Even if you’re not a perfectionist, the game can often become frustratingly difficult, because the small factors that get in the way of success are not properly communicated.
That’s where the Mechanics come in. This is a paid upgrade which you can buy (10 for $1.99) to “build” the contraptions for you. Essentially, you’re paying to not have to play the game, which might go a long way towards explaining some of the difficulty issues.
Bad Piggies isn’t the first game where you have to build contraptions to navigate through levels, but Angry Birds wasn’t the first game of its kind either. Something about the look and feel of that game was able to resonate with people around the world, and Bad Piggies continues in the same vein.
It’s relentlessly cute, and the piggies themselves are far more engaging than the birds ever were. There’s a cheerful look to them even when their meticulously made machines crack into a dozen different pieces simply because of a small rock in their path which wasn’t really noticeable.
The audio is also extremely upbeat and along with the bright colours of the game, will make it extremely appealing to kids. If Rovio ever gets around to making a cartoon series about the Angry Birds and the Bad Piggies, they already have the ingredients they need.
Bad Piggies benefits from the same style, and wraps it around what is an enjoyable game. The greater complexity might put off some players, so it might not reach the same kind of success that Angry Birds has met with, but the game is accessible enough that people should give it a chance.