IGN Review of Pass the Pigs
What do you get when you combine dice throwing with America's most diversely edible barnyard animal? Why, Pass the Pigs of course, a game where you roll pigs for points. Instead of traditional cubical dice, the player throws two pig shaped die. The unique shapes of the pigs offer a neat twist on the dice tossing games of old. For example, if two pigs land on their side and are facing the same direction (referred to as a sider), you get a point. But if both pigs are in a rarer pose such as leaning on their snouts, you get twenty points per snouter.
Pass the Pigs, with all of its bacon inspired jargon, looks confusing on the surface. There is a learning curve, but nothing that's too intimidating. A game is played by trying to beat your opponent to one hundred points. You can roll your pigs as many times as you like per turn until you either hit one hundred points or 'pig out'. A pig out occurs when you throw your pigs and they land on their sides with their legs facing opposite directions. When you pig out, you lose all of the points you have accumulated that turn and it becomes the other player's turn to throw. Another way to end your turn is to bank. By banking, you keep all of the points you have earned in a round and they cannot be taken away, but this also ends your turn.
Once you know your snouters from your sliders, when to bank and when to throw, etc., you can effectively play the game. Pass the Pigs offers a few modes of play for your pig tossing pleasure. The one-player mode is essentially a solitaire practice mode. You play by yourself and simply try to accumulate one hundred points. It's a decent way to get an idea of when you need to bank and hold onto your points, and when you need to sling some bacon.
Two-player mode lets you compete directly with your friends and/or enemies. However, Pass the Pigs takes no advantage of the DS' multiplayer features. There is no wireless multiplayer option or single-card download option at all. In a nutshell, when your turn is over you have to pass the DS. This mode is great for parents who want their kids to not only share games, but systems as well .
World Tour mode throws some story into the world of pig chucking. You take on the role of a kid, aptly named after your DS, who has just arrived on the Pass the Pigs scene. You travel across the world fighting opponents who are living, breathing stereotypes of the city or country they represent. Each opponent promises to be "the end" but none of them actually deliver. The entire World Tour mode can be beaten without even a glimpse of defeat in little over an hour. At least the story in World Tour doesn't take itself too seriously. The opponents, ranging from Salty Pete in San Francisco to Sydney Walkabout in Australia, make obscure references to everything from wrist exercises to Vin Diesel.
To throw your pigs, simply rub the stylus back and forth on the touch screen to build momentum (displayed on a power meter) and thrust the stylus forward to toss your piggies. There's even a small green area of the mostly red and yellow power meter that is supposedly the "sweet spot." However, while not as likely, it is still possible to roll a pig out even with a perfect throw. This would be like hitting the sweet spot in Mario Golf's power meter and completely missing the ball. It just doesn't feel right.
Something that does help improve your throw is the upgrades you can buy for your pigs. For every few points you earn in a round, you receive one pig buck. Between throws you are given a menu option to bank, roll again, or upgrade. Selecting the upgrade tab will take you to the game's store. Here you can buy pig-themed upgrades ranging from the Pig in Boots, which increases the odds of throwing a trotter (worth 5 points) to the upper echelon of upgrades, Bacon Bits, which increase the odds of throwing a Snouter and Leaning Jowler (10 and 15 points respectively). All upgrades last for one turn and one turn only, so choosing when to buy is just as important as choosing what to buy.
One thing that should be noted is that the computer cannot purchase items from the store in World Tour, which gives you an unfair advantage. This would be more interesting if the computer didn't play it so safe. Each opponent in the World Tour plays identically, and they all play it safe. You can acquire eighty points in your first round before banking, but ninety percent of the time the computer will stop rolling and bank at twenty point increments. So for your second round all you need is to procure an easy twenty points to win. It's a pretty simple formula.
One final way of influencing your throw (for better or worse) is by bumping the table. Hitting the right or left trigger shakes the table and allows you a last ditch effort to change the outcome of your roll. Be warned that the final results of this technique are completely random and can save or cost you your pig's butt.
The game is a bit baffling in the graphical department. As soon as the game starts up you are treated to the THQ and AWE Games titles, which include dramatic zooms, whooshes, and even lightning. That's about all the graphics you'll get from this title. The main game looks like a mini-game from a WarioWare clone. All you see is the board, your hand, and your pigs. The graphics get the job done at about the level you would expect from a game riddled with pork puns. There are a few dancing pigs that will let you know when you have enough pig bucks for an upgrade, but it's nothing that will make you wish you went to one of those video game colleges from late night commercials.
The only noticeable change in environments takes place in the World Tour mode. If you're passing your pigs in France, the music will be French and the board will reflect some aspect of French culture. This gives you a change of pace for every part of the world you visit. While none of the music tracks were particularly annoying, the clunking sound made as you shake your wrist gets old fast. Regardless of what you think of an area's music, the goofy noise your wrists make will have you sliding the volume down quick.
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