Bad Piggies Review

Bad Piggies gives the green, egg-stealing pigs of Angry Birds the chance to star in their own game. The game isn't about flinging pigs at birds, though. The simplicity using slingshot has been replaced with a much more challenging physics-based, design your own vehicle game.

The goal of each level is to get the pig from the starting spot to the finish line. At first you'll just be faced with simple slopes, but before long you'll have to get your vehicle contraptions over ramps, across gaps, and through loops.

Designing vehicles, at least from an assembly point of view, is pretty easy. You're given a grid of squares and a collection of parts, and you build your vehicle by dragging the parts onto the squares. Parts include square crates which serve to build the vehicle's frame and to hold pig passengers and egg cargo, as well as the things needed to get the vehicle moving, such as wheels, propellers, wings, and engines. At first you'll need to use all of the parts that you're given and there won't be too much flexibility in how they're placed, but soon enough you'll have plenty of options in selecting and combining parts.

Designing the vehicles isn't simply a matter of sticking parts together at random without any thought. You'll have to account for vehicle size and weight, center of gravity, power, lift, etc., because if you don't you'll watch your vehicle get stuck short of its goal, break apart coming off of a hill, or even collapse into a pile of parts at the starting line.

Once you're satisfied with your design it's time to set it into motion. If you've built a vehicle without any propulsion or engine attachments, then at this point all you can do is sit and watch and hope for the best. If you've attached drive wheels, engines, fans, soda bottles, or any other means of self-propulsion, then you'll be able to use buttons at the bottom of the screen to toggle each of them on and off, although some things like the soda bottles are one time use only. This makes the game more than just a physics puzzle game and adds an arcade aspect to it. You can come up with a great vehicle design, but if you don't do a good job of applying power at the right times then it's not likely to reach the finish line.

Once (and if) you cross the finish line, your performance will be rated from one through three stars. Each star is earned for a separate accomplishment which you can see before you start building your vehicle. These accomplishments can include goals such as just getting your pig across the finish line, making it across with your vehicle still intact, or collecting bonus stars which are usually stashed in tricky to reach spots. Just collecting one star is enough to unlock the next level, but there's motivation to return and collect more, not just on a personal level, but to collect the requisite total stars to unlock the game's bonus levels.

Bad Piggies debuted on iOS devices before making its way to the PC, and there's not that much difference between the versions. You play on a larger screen but the game's cartoon-like graphics are drawn from the HD iPad version of the game so they still look pretty good. Of course you also play with a mouse instead of your finger, but otherwise the game identical to its iPad version. Like the iPad version, you get 84 regular levels spread across four zones as well as the bonus levels and "sandbox" levels that give you lots of parts to build your vehicle, large areas in which to test it, and plenty of stars to try and collect. Leaderboards and achievements, supported on iOS by Apple's Game Center, are unfortunately both absent on the PC.

Bad Piggies is certainly more challenging than the Angry Birds games that came before it. A three year old can play Angry Birds, but without at least a rudimentary grasp of basic physics Bad Piggies will be an exercise in frustration. I had a lot of fun with the game - tinkering with vehicle designs is enjoyable, and I have to admit that watching a design failing in spectacular fashion is almost as much fun as successfully getting an experimental design across the finish line...

Final Rating: 88%. Apparently bad piggies make for good engineers.