I’m not really quite sure who the target audience for this game is. With the whole “three little pigs” motif you’d almost think it was a kid’s game, but the atmosphere seems a bit violent. When you shoot the wolves with an arrow they bleed, and in the intro cartoon the pig comes off as kind of a gruff, mean protector. Not to mention the fact that this game gets tough rather quickly. That being said, it is a somewhat amusing game that will definitely keep you challenged. Did I mention it was tough?
In imPig you must protect three little pigs from invading wolves. The pigs are resting on some rather large mushrooms on one side of the valley, and the wolves are floating down the cliff on the other side via balloons that the Big Bad Wolf is blowing up. As sheriff pig you must protect the runts by dispatching the wolves with your trusty bow and arrow. You can move back and forth between any of the mushrooms, and you get rid of the wolves either by shooting them or their balloons on the way down, or shooting the wolves as they’re running towards your mushrooms. If a wolf makes it to the mushrooms it will start building a ladder, and once the wolf ladder reaches the top mushroom the game is over. Any lower mushrooms that are taken over are now inaccessible to you, and there is no way to reduce the ladder any once it has started being built (or at least none that I’ve come across).
As you progress in the game you will earn props that can help you dispatch wolves. These props include a banana peel, a claw trap, and the ability to transform into some questionably copyright infringing characters. To actually use these props you must kill wolves. One wolf earns you a banana peel, three wolves for a claw trap, and so on. You can continue to use props until your wolf tail supply runs out. There are also many environmental things that can either help or hinder your success. On some levels an active volcano will spew rocks into the playing field that will either plow over wolves or prevent your arrows from hitting them. Other natural phenomena include an annoyingly nosy bird, a water spout, and a huge leaf from an inconveniently placed vine. I think these things are cool ideas, but sometimes it seems like there’s so much going on in a particular level that you can’t help but miss a majority of your shots.
This might just be the wimp in me, but this game needs an easy mode or something. It just takes one bad round for the wolf ladder to get out of control, and with no way to knock wolves out of the ladder it can get frustrating easily. Some of the obstacles are too invasive, especially in the earlier levels. The ultimate character the pig can transform into is only available if you complete 3 levels in a row at 95% or more, which I believe for me is a statistical impossibility. It’s not that I want everything in the game just handed to me, but I’d like to know that when it comes down to it, there’s a mode I can play that will let me see some of the cool things I’ll never achieve in the normal mode.
I really like the visuals in this game. The characters look good, and the animation is wonderful. There are even nice variances in things like the wolves floating down on the balloons. Some will curl up like they are afraid of falling, while others are all gung ho with their feet dangling just waiting to touch the ground. If you strike a balloon with an arrow you’ll see it pop. When lightening strikes a wolf their bones will glow in true cartoon fashion. The whole game has a nice Saturday morning cartoon feel to it, which makes me wonder if they would have been fine without the spatter of blood when a wolf hits the ground without a balloon or is struck by an arrow.
The sound effects are great. Whether it’s a wolf howling or a lightening bolt striking or an arrow whisking through the air, everything sounds just right. The only thing that struck me as a bit odd was that when a pig gets knocked off a mushroom there’s the sound of a chicken clicking. I’m really not sure what that’s all about. The music is catchy, but I have to say that I actually like the tune playing during the menu better than the one playing during the game itself. Maybe they could lengthen the menu song a bit and toggle between that and the current in-game song every few levels.
Overall imPig was a pretty amusing game. I’m not really much into these “defense” type games, and this one didn’t really change my mind on the genre, but it certainly provides a nice little diversion from more hard core games every once in a while. I still think it would be nice to have a “I’m lame at playing games” difficulty level, and there are times where the obstacles get a bit overwhelming, but for the most part the game is pretty well balanced once you get used to it. If nothing else it’s amusing to see the characters the pig can transform into.