Now, I know a gazillion casual gamers might hang me out to dry for this, but... I'm not the world's biggest Angry Birds fan. Sure, I understand what people see in it -- it's cute, it's quick to play, and it gives you some light puzzles to solve. But, for whatever reason, I've never taken the same shine to it that I have similar cute/fast/tricky games such as Cut the Rope. That said, I went into Rovio Mobile's new follow-up, Bad Piggies, with some apprehension. As it turns out, this is a much cooler game.
It's got the same organizational setup that we've seen in tons of other mobile games: Multiple themed waves of levels unlock successive themed waves, once you collect enough stars (three per level!) to progress.
But this time out, the titular Bad Piggies -- the antagonists from Angry Birds -- are after those coveted bird eggs again, and they've concocted some convoluted flying contraptions to aid in the egg-napping. Here, instead of slingshotting birds into pig-made structures, you get to jury-rig a functional vehicle from a rapidly growing toy box of basic parts.
Like most games of its kind, the task starts off pretty simple. Put some boxes together, screw some wheels on 'em, and watch the thing careen down a hill and toward the goal. But it quickly grows complicated, once the game starts throwing fan-propellers, bellows, rocket boosters, and other such add-ons at you.
You piece together your machine on a small grid (well, small at first anyway), in whatever configuration your heart desires. Sometimes, the basic goal is obvious: Stick the wheels underneath the carriage to make it go. But hey, maybe if you put that third wheel over on the side, you can make it down that hill without crashing to pieces. Or maybe if you turn this booster that way, and that booster the other way, you can snag the level bonus and make it to the goal inside of the time limit. Oh, the possibilities...
I almost feel like it gets a little too convoluted too quickly. For the life of me, I usually can't figure out how to get all three stars in one go on a given level; thankfully, you don't have to (stars are cumulative for each level playthrough), but some of them are downright impossible to deduce through anything but trial-and-error, even in the early levels.
Of course, I'm making this sound like a big knock on the game, when it's really not -- I admire Bad Piggies' creativity and its seeming aim to let you tinker. As long as you're not concerned with single-run perfection, you aren't limited to one specific solution. And it's a good thing, because those later levels call for some serious architectural experimentation.
One of my peers recently likened Bad Piggies to a slimmed down version of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts' vehicle workshop, and I think the comparison is apt. It'll certainly give your brain more to chew on than Angry Birds did -- and it demonstrates pretty handily that Rovio is no one-trick pony.
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