Over the years as Rovio has grown from a struggling Finnish mobile development studio to nearly muscling the WWE (and similar brands) off Wal-Mart store shelves in exchange for everything from Angry Birds T-Shirts to dog toys to band aids and decorative wall decals, leaving many of us have been wondering what's next? Angry Birds Space [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] mixed up the formula a bit, and the re-release of Casey's Contraptions re-branded as Amazing Alex [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] failed to impress.

Apparently, the key to reinventing the Angry Birds universe is by putting the pigs to work.

Bad Piggies [$0.99 / $0.99 (HD)] sets the stage with a brief comic book-style introduction setting the foundation for the game: The pigs, always anxious to steal the birds' eggs seemingly crafted a masterful plan to do so. Unfortunately, it got sucked into a fan, shredded, and blown across the land. Since pigs in the Angry Birds-iverse seem to lack legs (or feet), you've got to collect these plan scraps by building various contraptions to get your pig from the start of each level to the finish line where the piece of the plan is.

The game starts off slow, introducing the core building mechanic and the hint book. When you get access to a new item to bolt on to one of your contraptions, tapping an icon in the top right corner will show you how to use it. The first instance shows that you need to build a car of sorts that's three wooden boxes wide, with a wheel on each end. So, you drag the parts into a simple to use grid, place your pig inside, hit the checkmark to tell the game you've completed construction, and (hopefully) roll to the bottom of the hill to the finish line.

The rest of the game grows on this, eventually expanding the grid that you can build in as well as all sorts of new components. The next thing you're introduced to is the concept of thrust by adding a bellows you can squeeze to your contraption. Mashing a virtual button sends out a puff of air, which increases your forward momentum. Eventually you'll get access to balloons, propellers, engines, and all sorts of other odds and ends to put together some truly hilarious machines.

Bad Piggies is almost irritatingly accessible as well. If you've played a physics game (or a contraption building game) before, you'll likely already have a firm grasp of the concepts required to succeed in Bad Piggies. Quite a few of the early levels are mind-numbingly basic as the game teaches the player concepts such as attaching a balloon to things will make them float. These levels feel dull, until you realize how the three star system works.

Rovio has ditched the mysterious score requirements of Angry Birds for a much more tangible almost Cut the Rope [$2.99 / $4.99 (HD)] like style star system. Instead of not knowing if you're 10 points off or 10,000 points off from that elusive third star, you're told exactly what you need to do to perfect a level. These objectives vary from basic things like getting to the goal inside of a time limit, or collecting starts that are strewn about a level- Often in out of the way or hard to reach areas. My favorite goals, however, are ones that involve not using what seems to be a vital component for your contraption's construction (For instance, build without using a wheel.) or making it to the end without any damage to your flying machine. These can be very tricky.

The early levels lead you to believe that the real puzzle element in Bad Piggies is in the construction of your pig transportation gizmo. There's even a (remarkably optional) IAP item where the game will build the "perfect" contraption for you. In later levels, especially if you're going for three stars, Bad Piggies is a game of flawless execution and piloting of your machine. If you check out our TA Plays video, you'll see me failing at a level over and over as I fail to release a sandbag at the proper time, give my craft too much (or too little) thrust, don't pop balloons early enough, and a bunch of other things. Even if you "cheat" by looking up the perfect design, or use the IAP, you're hardly negating any of the challenge of the game.

Without obsessing over three star requirements, the included 90 levels in the initial release will likely only take a few hours to complete. Like all Rovio games, a mysterious pack of "coming soon" levels appears, indicating Bad Piggies will likely see the same stream of updates and content additions that the various Angry Birds games have received. But, in my eyes, these levels aren't even the best part of the game. That title goes to the sandbox mode.

In sandbox levels, you're given a massive grid to build in as well as tons of various components. Instead of reaching a finish line, you're challenged with a shockingly long level filled with stars to pick up. I've spectacularly failed at completing any of these to 100%, but it is amazing tweaking your design and managing to barely limp to one more star, rolling down a hill in your almost entirely broken contraption. If there was one thing I could add to Bad Piggies, it'd be the ability to create your own sandbox levels to share with friends. There's so much potential hidden away in something like that, and Rovio has already shown they're more than capable of doing it with Amazing Alex.

Bad Piggies is awesome, and needs to be a part of your iOS game collection just as much as the rest of the Angry Birds series. Rovio nails the same accessibility of the Angry Birds games while taking the franchise in a direction that feels both totally fresh and entirely appropriate. It sucks that Rovio still isn't releasing universal versions of their games, and it's disappointing that the iPhone variety doesn't take advantage of the iPhone 5's wider display, but neither of these things make Bad Piggies any less fun. Definitely pick this one up.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/Dorfdad Dorfdad

    I agree this is a 5/5 worthy title and should be in everyone's collection.. However the lack of Universal is pathetic in this day and age... 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

       I don't understand why it's "pathetic". I agree that, as a consumer, a universal app would be nice, but I don't see any reason that I should expect one and I don't see what's wrong with a developer choosing to address the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad as the different platforms that they are.

      • dancj

        They don't HAVE to do a universal version, but they've lost my money by bit doing one.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         Meanwhile, being that the iPad release costs $2.99, I very much doubt I would've been able to get the iPhone version I wanted for the $0.99 they're charging had it been a universal app, instead.

        Universal would be nice, but it's a trade-off with pluses and minuses each way. I don't see why we shouldn't just be glad that developers have the choice to approach it in whichever way works best for them.

      • jtfields

        I think they should offer the $0.99 app for the prone platform but make the $2.99 version universal.

      • Benjamin Palmer

        That would make a good deal of sense. A cheaper iPhone only version and for those that pay up for the iPad, its included! As is, it almost makes more sense to buy only the iPhone version if you have both, as that'll still work on the iPad... loss of $2 there.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         How would you react if they sold a $0.99 iPhone version and a $3.99 ($2.99 iPad + $0.99 iPhone) universal version?

      • runliketurtles

        That would be perfect. It isn't the cost that is at issue (I do understand why a $.99 app isn't universal). But if the universal version had cloud saves so I could play and continues progress on either device, I'd pay more for it.

      • Duhbyo47

        Yes! This is my problem! I'll gladly pay 99 cents for my phone and 2.99 for my iPad. Just don't make me replay the game twice. They lost my iPad purchase because of this stupid decision to exclude iCloud.

      • http://iqsoup.com/ iqSoup

        Rovio could probably easily get progress to sync between the two different apps even if neither is universal.

      • http://twitter.com/Dorfdad Dorfdad

        OK than how about making it $2.99 for both with cloud saves.. This way I dont constant start the game from a different save / postiion

      • http://iqsoup.com/ iqSoup

        I might be wrong but if you can afford both an iPad and an iPhone AND you want to play the game on both you can probably afford the extra $2.99.  
        I bet if it were a universal app that cost $3.99 people who own both devices would be fine with the price.

      • FuZion

        Quite possibly, but only want one file. And for once, iCloud syncing across devices from Rovio.

      • FuZion

        My opinion is this; an iPad or HD version should be universal. An iPhone version should have at the very least, offer an in app 'HD' purchase for universal.

        By simply having separate versions, I am in the group of people that won't be purchasing the game (Or any others that adopt entirely separate versions).

        I agree that a dev doesn't owe us universal apps, but the fact that they actively make the decision not to offer universal apps is simply a decision based on expecting people to buy the games twice. This doesn't get my vote at all.

      • dancj

        They don't HAVE to do a universal version, but they've lost my money by not doing one.

      • Jamie Churchman

        Why is it pathetic?  Because you are paying cash for software that runs on an operating system. The only reason you can't run this software universally, across two devices you own, that are running the same operating system, is because of the developer.

        They do not need to release a separate 'HD' version. There is no point. An iPad 1 and an iPad 2 do not require markedly different assets to an iPhone 4/4S/5. The assets should hold up across all these systems. They don't need to change the UI for this mythical 'HD' format that for some reason needs special attention on tablets. Developers have been dealing with different resolutions for decades. Not to mention different aspect ratios and even different pixel aspect ratios (during the CRT/LCD changeover period). You design your UI to be flexible.

        However, there are two extremes to this situation, pre-retina iPhones and the new iPad. Pre-retina devices require down res and optimization. If anything developers should charge extra for the work required to make their games run on these devices. The other extreme is the new iPad. The problem here is you are not able to tax this system at a higher rate without punishing a huge swathe of customers who own an iPad 1 or 2 and receive absolutely no benefit from these higher resolution assets. Not to mention all of the people who own an iPad 1 or 2 and are now also required to buy the game twice to run it on the same operating system using essentially the same assets (for retina devices) and the same code.

        The Universal app is for apps that run on both devices. If you are artificially creating a split in your product to charge at different price points then that is what you are doing. You are being a little bit of a dick. I will admit, there was a small window where it made sense. Right when the first iPad came out, there was a time where all devices were either 320x480 or 1024x768. At that point, it made sense to charge for an 'HD' version without dicking anyone around. That window lasted three months.

      • Samuel Hinz

        you absolutely can buy the iphone version and it's assests on your ipad and only pay .99.   if you want the higher quality assests then pay the money. and yes while the game is the same resolution things do get resized and reworked for the bigger screen.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        Actually designers make a HUGE image, and then they make lower resolution from it, so they dont need to rework anythings...its a few (or 1) day job.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        Because actually they are the same platforms.... Is like paying for each resolution is a PC-game....

    • SpacePenguinBot

      Indeed, and it leads into my question. Which version should I get? iPhone or iPad?

  • Guillaume Merle

    Good review.
    As much as I hate Angry Birds, I have to say that this game deserves a 5 stars rating.

    • Firetruck94

      Yeah I didn't like angry birds either.

  • Jacob Reese

    No iPhone 5 screen optimization?? Lame

  • MicroByte

    I wasn't sure about what to make of this at first, but it's really a delightful game with characters that are familiar.  I, like many, spent a lot of time with Angry Birds, and I'm glad to see the piggies getting their own 15 minutes.

    The concept has been done in the past, but this feels so well executed.  Simple on the surface, but I can see it will take a long while to master.

  • Tatiana

    This one actually looks more appealing to me than Angry Birds. The sandbox levels look the best.

  • Uncopyrightable

    ❤❤❤
    Loving this game so far, And its driving me loco.

  • defred34

    Wow, another 5/5. I played this just for a bit, and it looked more like Amazing Alex than Angry Birds in gameplay at least. Not usre about 5/5, but would've surely gotten a 4/5 and maybe 4.5/5 from me.

  • Karzay

    The star system is very common these days. I wonder who was the first to use it in game. It's no doubt inspired by grad school reward systems. I remember in Kindergarten (early 80's), if you got 3 stars by your name, you got to choice a cheap plastic toy at the end of the day.

    Do we really need 3 star pat on the back for completing a single level? How much does the 3 star achievements and all the Game Center achievements take away from the drive and the actual achievement of finishing a game?

    I feel like after I finish a level, and get 3 stars, I can put it down and do something else. Whereas if I didn't get a reward for finishing a level, I might be inclined to play longer.

    • runliketurtles

      Most people are probably the opposite and will keep playing to get more and more stars.

      The 3-star mechanic as done in Angry Birds where the higher your score the more stars you get is played out. However, I like how Bad Piggies does it. Stars are really goals that cause you to play out levels in different ways. More games need to do their star system this way.

      • Karzay

        You are probably right. I didn't think about the replay value of earning stars.

        I like how Bad Piggies implemented it too. Thanks for your response.

      • Guillaume Merle

        Exactly.
        Although Bad Piggies is not the first game to do it, I feel too that it is the best way to do it since, as you said, it encourages you to replay the level using a different approach.
        It's a very good way to "artificially" extend the lifetime of a game.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7SWH7AZY3E5S6S7UAIA6AMNIJY Ss Tester

    Why 5 stars ? How ? It's rating for Rovio company or for the game ? This game is much worse than AB, I don't believe it will be on top for long.

  • backtothis

    TouchArePaid

    • Chefbot

      So let me guess: if an indie game gets 5 stars, it's an instant classic, if a big name game gets 5 stars, all of a sudden TA is being bribed, irregardless of the game's actual quality?

      How does that make sense?

  • Christian Holland

    I like the game, its great... Along with a ton of other games I also like equally well, the hype Rovio get absolutely does not reflect how good the game is, I mean its a casual little game not a damn Academy award winning piece of entertainment that warrants 2 posts a day. The way this crap is going in 100 years time Rovio will be remembered for inventing computer games! and Apple will be remembered for inventing cell phones!!! you may think thats a foolish prediction,.. Just remember Edison!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000474676350 Jaime Coston

      Or should that be "remember Tesla" since Edison falls into the same line of thought where Tesla is the victim? Either way, point taken!

      • Christian Holland

        Yep either way points the same direction. I guess I'm grumpy because I want the old TA back, before they were bringing in the money, posts felt a lot more genuine back then. Rovio are very good polishers of ideas, re-mixers if you like, but then they should be these days with all their success. Journalists should be pushing them to use all that profit by being more critical to make something truly original and amazing and not blowing smoke up their arse, as near enough every Rovio review on here does, I mean this doesn't exactly have the same kind of content and genius Little Big Planet or Skyrim or countless other AAA titles do these days, and since AB is the biggest grossing game of all time doubling what Skyrim has made I think a bit more criticism is way over due!

  • sakara214ever

    Amazing game. Nough said

  • Vtec51O

    Does this have cloud saves? Thinking about buying both versions. But if there aren't cloud saves then think I'd just get one. Anyone with both versions prefer one over the other?

  • http://iqsoup.com/ iqSoup

    Funny how much raw hate Angry Birds gets from hardcore iOS gamers.  Its not the greatest game ever made but its certainly a fun, well polished game, and back when it came out the gameplay was fairly original.  I think people hate it just because its so popular.  Its like the hipster kid who stops listening to his favorite indie band once they go mainstream and other people start liking them.  Heavy gamers are more likely to know about and play more obscure games.  That's great, there are some awesome titles that aren't very accessible to casual gamers and don't make it into the mainstream.  But liking something just BECAUSE its obscure is stupid, as is hating something BECAUSE its mainstream.  Bad Piggies looks pretty dang awesome to me--well worth my buck.  I really couldn't care if its considered a "mainstream game."

    • haruhiko

      Just like Apple losing all love after being successful. The hipster kids love bashing Apple to show that they are not the same at the next kid.

  • MarkyMarc

    I'm enjoying this game so far and have purchased it on both iPhone/iPad. To those of you that are complaining about it not being universal.. It's only $0.99 & $2.99, surely you can handle those measly amounts after shelling out hundreds for your iPhones and iPads. I will agree on the loss of convenience with no iCloud syncs, even though most of my gaming is done on the iPad.

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      They make millions of millons and they still refuse to make universal apps, then i refuse to pay illogically big peices on pointless HD versions, thats all.
      And the lack of cloud saving is pathetic...also for the split game center entry...

      • ANIMALCHOPPINGS

        They make millions and millions because they know, inevitably, that people will buy both versions.

  • swarmster

    I hope someday Rovio will hit it big, then maybe they could afford to hire someone that knows what iCloud is. Then maybe if they could somehow spin that success into a big series we could even get Universal apps?

    Will probably never happen, though :(

  • gd224

    This is absolutely better than Angry Birds, here you actually have to think about what you build and if you don't do it right, you gotta do it again. Great game, although I got it on my Android (since it's free there...) 

Bad Piggies Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 5