Crazy use of animals in video games is common place on the AppStore… I thought I’d seen it all with the Angry Birds war on egg eating pigs. Now though, the pork and poultry must work as a team.
The story of Pig&Chicks is a tale of mad scientists, world domination and mutant animal minions. But really, it’s just a sugar coating to an underlying gameplay mechanic which is simple, yet highly addictive, gesture based platforming.
In a way it reminds me of Yoshi Touch&Go on the DS, and not just the 2D 16bit look. Pig&Chicks requires you to guide your cheeky swine across perilous obstacles while fending off the enemy animal onslaught. You don’t have direct control over the pig; instead you control his chick cohorts. There are four chicks in all, and are controlled by directional gestures, which serve to help the pig on his journey. Together they kinda act like an extended arm. For if you gesture in any direction, they whip out from behind pig like links in a chain. The obvious use is for whipping enemies, whether gesturing upwards to whip them out of the sky or horizontally to knock away enemies in your path.
However, it soon becomes apparent that they have more uses. Should our pig hero come across a gap or an electric prong for example, then you can whip out the little feathered fellas and create a bridge, or in other cases, roll like a boulder through rocks, spin jump flames, and swing from hooks or deactivate spiked pathways. Just when you thought you’d seen all the obstacles or enemies, the game throws more at you.
Pulling off the gestures is no problem at all, however, it all comes down to the timing. Try and create a bridge too soon, or too late, and the chicks will fail, causing our hero to lose a life. Lose all your hearts and the game ends, sending you back to the beginning of that level to try again. To begin with, the game lends a helping hand. Quite literally showing a visual aid of when to swipe and in which direction. Up until world three this aid helps you along, and while appreciated, it should be optional in earlier levels to add to the challenge.
There are nine themed worlds to play through, which are tackled in a linear style. This is a bit of a shame as I would have liked to see the ability to play a world’s levels in any order. Purely from a pick-up-and-play point of view, or should a particular level become frustrating, you can always play-on and try it again later.
After the adventure mode is complete you can take part in four challenges. These are survival modes based on the different chick abilities, and only provide you with one heart. So, it’s all about how far you can get, and shoot for high scores over Game Center
Visually it’s nothing really to write home about. Featuring hand-drawn style 2D artwork for the creatures and the environment, and combined with the saccharine soundtrack, it is annoyingly cute. Whether the visuals are to your taste or not, however, is a moot point, as the gameplay really is something worth checking out. Early on it’s a little slow going as you learn the different ways of utilising the chicks, but soon things get frantic, genuinely challenging and the game quickly becomes hard to put down.
Pig&Chicks is out now for $0.99. get it on the