If you’re like me — the one percent, so to speak — you just don’t like Angry Birds. When I play it, I curse both man and machine. From my sweaty geek fingers unable to accurately draw back the slingshot to a simple, random bounce in the wrong direction, I have yet to click with the series. But along comes Bad Piggies, the first new IP from Rovio in a long, long, loooong time, to sit me down and feed me my crow.
Okay, everyone knows Angry Birds. You launch your beaked buddy in beautifully bounding curves at a pile of crap and try to kill all of the pigs. There is admittedly much more to the series, but that is the distilled version. I have been told countless times that there is more, beyond this tl;dr version of how I see the game. It understandably underwhelms when described like that. So, I will proceed as if I am in fact wrong in my distaste of the series and assuming everyone on planet Earth has played it.
“Oh boy, another Angry Birds,” I thought. But it is not. Not at all. Let’s break it down.
Simply, Bad Piggies is nothing more than building glorified wagons to get your pigs to the goal. On paper, it seems blasé, too simple even. But Rovio has really stepped up its game, adding enough bells, whistles, charm, humor and character to easily shoulder the burden. Like Angry Birds, this game exists solely to add variables. As soon as you learn how to slide downhill, a bump is added. As soon as you master said bump, you need to go uphill. As soon as you make it to the top, you have to launch yourself over a mountain.
However, it is the seemingly endless amount of wagon parts, level designs and stars that goad you to replay it. The three star system is here (as in every single mobile game after the initial Angry Birds success) and it forces you to think laterally. This, I love. One situation might be that you have to make it to the end without cracking your wood support. Another might task you with not using a single fan for propulsion. Each one feels perfectly suited for the level, not just randomly slapped on.
I won’t get into the wagon parts much, because the discovery of seeing your new part in action for the first time is magical. In this way, the game is very much an experimentation instead of a From Point A to Point B scenario. How will a single box surrounded by spring and wheels react when pushed off a cliff? You will have to find out for yourself, but that is what’s so good about the game.
In fact, it’s about as good as a mobile game can be (I don’t have an iPad, so this is speaking for the iPhone version). It’s not a particularly gripping narrative, but it’s funny enough. It’s not going to win any Best Graphics awards, but it’s cute. It’s not going to introduce any revolutionary concepts, but it’s built super-smartly and intuitively. And, as a reviewer, I would be daft to dock points for these shortcomings. The biggest realistic flaw here is the randomness. Some just might not enjoy having to throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks.
Along with all the building and crashing and flying, the Bad Piggies has all the flourishes you would expect from a high-end mobile game: achievements, leaderboards, and social network integration. It’s really worthy of carrying the Rovio brand name. Oh, did I mention it’s less than a cheeseburger at 99 cents? At this price, you really can’t go wrong with Bad Piggies. Because (sorry!) sometimes it feels so good to be bad.