Good! Because I’m going to tear it apart.
is a great game because it combines the charm and addictiveness of Angry Birds, but adds creativity, logic, and flying pig vessels. It takes the victimized pigs from Angry Birds and places them at the helm. The whole point of the game is to build a contraption—using parts such as wings, propellers, soda bottle rockets, and mechanized wheels—that will convey a pig from start point to finish line.
Why is it so fun? Because there’s no one way to complete a level; you fashion these cars, flying machines, and incendiary vehicles in whatever way you see fit, using a combination of trial-and-error, physical intuition, and ingenuity. You also use these acquired skills to complete a wide range of levels and challenges. Basically, it’s an engineer’s dream game.
But why is it better than Angry Birds, you ask? One word: creativity.
The success of your vehicle depends on a host of physically realistic factors—weight, balance, aerodynamics, energy, force, etc. So, for example, if you’re building a wheeled vehicle at the top of a hill, placing the pig at the front of the contraption is going to add greater frontal weight and make it travel faster downhill, but if it’s not balanced properly the whole the thing is going to flip forward. Similarly, if you’re building a flying device, the placement of a propeller or the power of an engine directly impacts the velocity and angle of flight, among other factors. What all this means is you have to be both creative and logical in building your vehicles.
The entire game is essentially a big puzzle—you have to find the best way of conveying your piggy to the finish line. But it’s not like a traditional puzzle, because there’s more than one way of doing things. For example, a balloon-lifted contraption with a fan-powered propulsion system may get you a hard-to-reach bonus star just as effectively as a ground-based TNT contraption that launches the piggie there. If you’ve never played the game, this probably sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but it translates to a lot of fun on your iPhone. What it means is when you finally crack a puzzle (you can also purchase effectively designed vehicles from Rovio), you feel good about yourself, because you conquered it through sheer logic, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Yay engineering!
The physics are extremely important in . Each tool and each object interacts with its environment—and with other objects—in a specific way, and all devices are subject to the same physical “laws.” This means you have to build vehicles and negotiate obstacles while keeping in mind how different objects and actions will affect aerodynamics, trajectory, speed, weight, and lift, as well as how these forces will influence each other. It makes for a significantly more complex game than Angry Birds—but in a good way. The physical engine is the same, but uses it in a different—and, yes, more satisfying—way.
As with most iOS titles, the controls are not really a factor. While there are only a few onscreen buttons, the complete lack of any text means you need to tap into your gamer’s intuition to figure out what does what. It’s not very difficult, but it may take a level or two to figure out what’s going on.
is a very recent release, and given Rovio’s constant tinkering with Angry Birds you can expect lots of updates and added features in coming years—that is, if it takes off like we think it will. Nonetheless, there are plenty of different game modes and completion challenges to keep your attention.
Right now there are three different game modes: Ground Hog Day, which is all ground-based vehicle construction; When Pigs Fly, which makes use of flying contraptions such as balloons and propellers; and Sand Box, which allows you to use any unlocked object to capture bonus stars in larger playing areas. There’s also a fourth game mode coming soon.
Aside from these modes there isn’t much else, but there doesn’t need to be. There are 36 levels—or maps—in each of the first two modes, plus five additional levels in the Sandbox mode. Also, each of the first two modes includes nine unlockable levels—not to mention, the three “star” challenges in each level will bring you back to achieve perfection.
Unless there’s a time challenge, everything sort of works at your own pace, which is nice. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’ll seem like you’re breezing through levels. Even so, you can always go back and try for all three stars. This will help you unlock more items for Sand Box mode.
piggybacks (excuse the pun) off of Angry Birds by taking the pigs from that game and making them the focus. The whole purpose is to find pieces of a map (located at the finish line of each level) that directs the pigs to the Angry Birds’ eggs. Or something like that, I don’t know. It’s not important.
We suspect that a lot of ’ charm stems from the feeling that you’re in these contraptions with the hapless pigs, as you’ll find yourself reacting to success and failure the same way your pig does—by screaming, laughing, and… whooping. And a lot of this has to do with the impact of sound, graphics, and art direction.
Rovio has a knack for pleasing, inoffensive aesthetics, and they accomplished it yet again with . There really aren’t many design elements to criticize; nothing is cluttered, the colors are not dull, the sound isn’t overwhelming—nor are the graphics. Everything just works, and the zany tone gives it a nice sense of humor, too.
It’s impressive how each object has a specific set of physical properties, all of which interact with objects and land barriers in a precise way. What’s even cooler is the way these physical “laws” are animated. Boxes of TNT, for example, explode in a pleasingly cartoonish way, often sending your pig rocketing across the level map. As with Angry Birds, is very self-aware—not only in regards to graphics and art direction, but in terms of gameplay as well.
The music is zany and just, well, fun. It doesn’t have any impact on gameplay and it doesn’t change much, but it’s fitting—lots of wild percussion, fast rhythms, and hoedown-like melodies.
The sound effects have a bit more of an impact than the music, even if for mere amusement. Sounds of explosions, screaming piggies, and botched flight attempts are all comical. We’d recommend keeping the sound on.
Okay, so here’s why is better than Angry Birds: It's essentially the Angry Birds engine put to a different, better use, which is to build really awesome cars and flying machines and rockets to propel tiny piggies toward a finish line. Come on, that’s so much cooler than firing birds from a slingshot. There’s just more to do, more room for creativity, and more reasons to come back and play again. Right now, since the game is such a recent release, there isn't a whole lot of extra content, but as the game takes off—as we suspect it will—you can expect new game modes and upgrades to make it even better.
Meet the tester
Tyler Wells Lynch
Tyler Wells Lynch is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Vice, Wirecutter, Gizmodo, The Rumpus, Yes!, and the Huffington Post, among others. He lives in Maine.
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