If you have an iPhone, had an iPhone, have thought about having an iPhone, known someone who had an iPhone, or even are only vaguely aware of the existence of the iPhone, it’s unlikely that you’ve escaped without some sort of cursory awareness of Angry Birds, the physics-based phenomenon whose popularity has hung around only slightly too long to still be considered a “fad.” Rovio first released Angry Birds in 2009, and has since pushed out all kinds of updates and new chapters, but the premise has more or less always been the same: load a bird into a slingshot, and launch it in an attempt to topple a piggy-inhabited edifice of questionable structural integrity.
Well today, all of that changes. The piggies want the spotlight now, and Rovio has given it to them in a brand new iOS game called Bad Piggies. Bad Piggies is very much set in the same world as Angry Birds, but the game is quite different. Grab a cup of coffee and hit the jump to take a look at this brand new physics-based puzzler.
A Departure From Projectile Physics
Bad Piggies is aesthetically quite reminiscent of Angry Birds. The art style is the same, both games have a similar breakdown of levels into worlds and a three-star scoring system for each level. But what sets Bad Piggies apart from Angry Birds is the level design. Where Angry Birds levels were all based on determining the optimal trajectory for launching birds, Bad Piggies has you constructing vehicles for the pigs that will safely transport them to their destination at the end of the level.
We’ll back up in a second and get into the mechanical differences between Angry Birds and Bad Piggies, but follow me for a moment while I explain the grid. At the beginning of each level, you’ll be shown the full landscape, complete with a finish line and various objectives (more on that later, as well). The puzzling itself will begin when the camera comes to rest on the grid. The grid is where you’ll be able to place pre-determined components in order to construct a vehicle capable of delivering the pigs to their destination.
Each level (of the levels I’ve played, so far) includes enough basic parts to build a rudimentary wheeled craft, a single piggy and a slew of different components that can aid movement, including, but not limited to, fans, bellows, TNT and even bottles of carbonated beverages. The grid size changes from level to level, but you can be sure that a combination of components that will successfully complete the level can be created on the grid provided.
Let’s step back and take a look at the app as whole. Veterans of Angry Birds will be familiar with the menus and world/level hierarchy. However, the score you received for each level of Angry Birds (out of three stars) was largely based on the number of points you were able to accumulate by causing as much destruction as possible. In Bad Piggies, however, the score you receive (still out of three stars) is based on your ability to meet a certain number of conditions.
Usually, they’re fairly standard requirements. Every level so far has required you to successfully get the piggy across the finish line (but the vehicle is usually not required to cross the line). There are levels that require you to finish in a certain number of seconds, or to pick up a starred crate along the way. You can review the current level’s requirements by tapping the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
However, some levels have more unique requirements. Just because the game gives you a certain component for building your vehicle doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to complete the level without it. And indeed, some levels won’t award you that last star until you figure out how to beat it without attaching say, the fan, for example. Also, some stars won’t be awarded until you can get the vehicle across the finish line intact.
For the record, I found it difficult (and often impossible) to earn all three stars in a level on one attempt. Fortunately, the stars you earn are saved, meaning that you can finish the level and pick up the crate, but come back later to try to beat the time limit. By basing the game’s feedback system on small, level-specific challenges rather than a generic point system, Rovio has dynamically changed the gameplay style while maintaining a familiar feel within the game itself.
Players will recognize the wordless, sometimes unhelpful, cartoon-style method of storytelling and instruction. Much like in Angry Birds, the story is driven via comic-like panel illustrations, and any tips that you glance at in-game are almost sure to be as puzzling as the levels themselves, forcing you to work out exactly how each piece of equipment will function on your vehicle.
Frankly, I was skeptical about Rovio’s ability to continue cashing in on the Angry Birds craze without driving the franchise to banality, but Bad Piggies is a welcome, if unexpected, breath of fresh air. The day will come, I’m sure, when Rovio will attempt to hit it big with a new intellectual property, but it seems as though this franchise is safe for now.
Aside from the singular issue of Bad Piggies not launching with the ability to take advantage of my iPhone 5′s larger screen, there are very few negative things to say about the app. The gameplay is easy to learn, and manages to remain challenge without getting stale or repetitive. With a launch price of $0.99, try it out and let us know what you think!