After the underwhelming response to Amazing Alex, it’s hard to blame Rovio for returning to the brand which made its fortune. That said, Bad Piggies is a markedly different kind of iOS physics puzzler to Angry Birds, one which owes more to Banjo Kazooie: Nuts ‘N’ Bolts than its avian inspiration.
As with Rare’s Xbox 360 curio, your job is to build vehicles to achieve a variety of objectives, this time with the de facto three gold stars as your reward for negotiating the ramps, rocks and sundry other obstacles that lie between the start and finish lines.
The grid-based construction is intuitive and slick as you snap wheels, propellers, wings and springs onto the wooden pallets carrying your porcine cargo, and while there’s plenty of trial and error involved in creating a vehicle fit for purpose, there’s a healthy element of slapstick to compensate. By the time TNT crates are introduced as a method of propulsion rather than a hazard, the results are mildly redolent of Wile E Coyote’s elaborate Acme failures.
Sadly, the early learning curve is far too shallow, while creative freedom is often illusory, with a single solution to many stages. Rovio does eventually loosen the reins, but the combination of rickety vehicles and unforgiving level design only heightens the frustration. A clutch of entertaining sandbox challenges is too little, too late: like a bottle rocket-powered unicycle, Bad Piggies begins with a fizzing burst of promise before losing momentum and finally collapsing.