To put it mildly, Angry Birds was a bit of a success. What once started out as a free game for iOS and Android devices exploded into its own media empire, with developer Rovio moving beyond the small screen with plush toys, games and even branching out into other properties with Angry Birds Star Wars. With this potential for Angry Birds overload, Bad Piggies is a startling change of pace. It would have been easy for Rovio to replace birds with their pig enemies and call it a day, but what they did instead was allow the player’s creativity to run wild.
The green pigs were presented as a malevolent force in the original Angry Birds, and although the loose narrative involves their imminent assault on the bird’s eggs, they are presented as silly and happy-go-lucky in their quest to reassemble the tools needed to capture the eggs. At the start of each round, you’re given a small collection of parts to make a vehicle that get your pig across the map to grab the end level MacGuffin. Bonus points are awarded for completing level within a certain amount of time, collecting stars and getting through a level without using specific vehicle parts. Perform well and you’ll earn pieces to use in sandbox mode.
There’s a lot more to building than slapping a few wheels on a box. The physics-based puzzles require a degree of planning in order to ensure that balloons, fans and shaken-up soda bottles (the best jet propulsion money can buy) will get you over hills, pitfalls and rocky outcrops. Combined with explosives, there’s a fair measure of unpredictability in the later portions of the game that can make collecting out-of-reach bonus stars more troublesome. Although given absolute freedom in designing your mobile vehicle, should you find that the wooden jalopy isn’t enough to reach the end, there are two useful tools available. First, an idea book will give you a vague idea of what can be accomplished with the vehicle parts at hand. Second, a mechanic can be called upon to design a vehicle for you that will help you reach the end of the level and nothing more.
Bad Piggies is a welcome change of pace from the Angry Birds onslaught. The creative slant makes for a far more interesting game than the original “crash into various structures” formula. With over 400 levels divided in three chapters, over 60 sandbox levels and rewards for collecting hidden skulls, Bad Piggies is packed with a serious amount of content making it the perfect game to spend as little as five minutes or upwards of two hours with. While many iOS games I’ve played don’t offer much content, Bad Piggies has exceptional staying power. With open ended gameplay and plenty of room for creativity, Bad Piggies is a delightful addition to Rovio’s small, yet powerfully popular, catalog. Whether it will achieve the same level of success as Angry Birds is another question.