Crazy Pig (DS) review
"Crazy Pig is a bit of an enigma, and by an enigma I mean a flat-out lie. Billed as a dual game that allows you to raise a piglet from scratch and play a slew of mini-games, the title only really delivers on the latter promise. The raising of your porker is little more than throwing food and drink at it when the hunger and thirst levels are low, making a fuss of it when it's sad or cleaning the messy little bugger periodically."
I'm not really sure how to start a review of Crazy Pig off on the right foot. It's a raising sim/mini-game compilation, so the easiest route would be to compare it with Nintendogs and discuss that for a while, but I'm fortunate enough to be one of the 15% of reviewers that got away with not playing the DS launch titles. I could pretend I had and be maddeningly vague, but my earlier confession put paid to that. So instead I'll start it off by discussing how I'm not sure how to start.
Yes, that should fool you. It does lead to the following awkward transition, though.
Crazy Pig is a bit of an enigma, and by an enigma I mean a flat-out lie. Billed as a dual game that allows you to raise a piglet from scratch and play a slew of mini-games, the title only really delivers on the latter promise. The raising of your porker is little more than throwing food and drink at it when the hunger and thirst levels are low, making a fuss of it when it's sad or cleaning the messy little bugger periodically. Depending on the level of these four states limits the availability of some of the mini-games you can access by sending the pig off to sleep then choosing between his dreams.
Or skip all this and dress it up in anything from a Santa Claus outfit complete with beard to camp-looking, bandana-sporting biker.
You win these items of clothing from the mini-games, as well as surplus goods to use within the lacking 'raising' aspect of the game. You start with the question-raising default snack of ice cream, but can add foodstuffs like daisies and jam. Likewise, should your pig get tired of water, you can stuff vanilla milkshake down its throat (I pause briefly to add that vanilla is the premier milkshake flavour) or employ differing tools to clean the crap off its hide. The measures of each of these four aspects are tracked with a quintet of bars which rise and fall with favour. Hungry pig is a low, amber bar; full pig is high and green.
Some of the mini-games are only playable should certain bars be in the green. The pig (who I, imaginatively, named Pig) will not be able to hurl itself from the barn's rooftop with an umbrella strapped to his back if he is too hungry to do so. This would be a shame, because that particular mini-game is a lot of fun.
Like all the others, it comes in three difficulty levels, each unlocked by completing the previous incarnation. The easiest stage is achieved simple by having Pig drop from his perch with the umbrella unfolded, the second insists that you give it a burst of speed by rapidly tapping on the two trotters on the touch screen like a more interactive Track & Field while the third not only has you blowing on the mic to employ windmills to offer an uplifting gust of wind, but you'll also have to fold your umbrella up mid-flight to duck under a swarm of bees. Then you'll need to re-open it before you lose enough altitude and smash snout-first into the floor.
The harder the stage, the more medals you gain after completion. Accumulating medals is one way of unlocking new 'dreams', and, therefore, more mini-games. The other way is to play enough for the seasons to change, opening up things such as the summer game, where you have to prod flower bulbs to draw bees to them so Pig can stuff himself full of the honey within their hive.
The problems arise when you unlock all the dreams to discover that's there's only seven mini-games to partake in. And while some, like the two mentioned, can get away with multiple plays, others fall flat. The autumn unlocakable is too busy: it has you tapping patches of marked grounds rapidly to unearth truffles which you then have to guide around a maze of venomous toadstools to deposit in a dainty wicker basket in the corner of the screen. The playscape fills rapidly with toadstools, so guiding them there is a big enough challenge, but you must also ward off Pig from gobbling the lot down by tapping on him if he draws near your stockpile as well as yell into the mic should a stray wolf pop out of nowhere and make eyes at your mushrooms.
There's a lot of yelling at the mic when the wolf appears in mini-games, which continues to baffle me. Developers seem to forget that consoles like the DS are handheld for a reason, and that reason is that you can play them on the go. I can imagine myself happily playing, say, Luminous Arc, on trains and busses because that's become my usual practise. The idea of having to suddenly yell "Oi! Bugger off, you thieving mongrel!" in a carriage full of commuters to save my truffles from thievery is enough to firmly brand this game with a big, red "NOT TRAVEL FRIENDLY" stamp.
There's also the mini-games that flat-out donít work. One such stage has Pig standing atop a circular bale of hay which you must draw rapid circles within to get moving and then do so faster to pick up speed. The object here is to win a obstacle-strewn race with that bloody wolf again. You need to employ your stylus in various differing stabs to get around the obstacles, such as drawing an upwards line over gates to open them, or to stab tyres so they deflate. However, unless you are one of those smug left-handed people (you know who you are!) your right wrist and forearm completely obscure the DS' bottom screen while you spin your hay bale, meaning you don't see said obstacles until you've mashed into them and lost all your momentum.
This doesn't mean Crazy Pig is a bad game, it's simply an unrealised one. The mini-games that are fun remain fun for a long time, but the poorly planned ones don't have anywhere to hide when there's only seven game overall to partake in.
Which leaves me with a problem not unlike my one in the opening paragraph: how do you end a review on a game whose cons devour the pros? The low number of mini-games constructs unnecessary stress on the ones that work while robbing the ones that donít from a wall to hide behind. Itís a reasonable way to kill some time at best, but an unfinished project that never delivers on what it promises at worst.
The answer, then? You end that with a 5/10.
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