Edited by: Tiffany Lillie
Pig Eat Ball is an odd arcade title that features mechanics similar to what you might find in older Pac-Man games; the visuals are what gives this release its eye-catching charm. During your adventure, you’ll explore countless levels spread across several space stations, providing a wealth of wacky fun while testing your abilities to complete the tasks that lay ahead of you.
There are several space stations (worlds) each with a few modules (sub-worlds) to explore. Each module hosts a varying range of levels. To give an idea of how much there is to do in just one space station: there are fourteen sections — Royal Clams, as they’re called — along with a Gold Clam in each world, accessible only after you obtain gold medals in all of the Royal Clams. Which medal you acquire depends on how much time it took you to complete the level. Many of these sections feature several levels to master. Complete each level in a section, and you obtain a pearl to reflect this accomplishment. These pearls unlock new areas to discover and allow you to progress further. At the end of each space station is a boss.
The initial levels are a breeze but begin increasing in difficulty. Some require a strategy and might test your puzzle-solving skills and knowledge about collectibles in the game. What helps ensure playability is that no level ever feels the same. If you thought the regular areas were intense, wait until you face one of the bosses. Along the way, you may stumble across disguises you can equip, each one possessing a different pro and con, rendering each great in certain stages but making them a bane in others. These disguises are littered throughout the various space stations, so you have only a few early in your journey. This is a tad limiting but does grant relief from having to choose just one disguise from a list of dozens when you’re first acquainting yourself with the title.
Once you do beat these levels, you can revisit them in the hopes of a higher score, create levels, or play ones others made. Designing a custom level is straightforward, though there’s an advanced option that provides more power in designing, but this UI is less user-friendly upon first glance. A stage type I really enjoyed was multiplayer where you’d compete against AI. You can create a level that has this feature. You may also play with others with the Party mode if that’s more what you’re looking for.
Also while exploring the hubs, you may find Powerups, granting you an advantage. These include a shield, a magnet, Tactical Bananas, and more. Yep, that’s right — bananas for tactical purposes. It sounds absurd, and I love that. You can hold only five of each type, but at one time I had six Time Wands. If you run out and are unable to find any more, there’s a way to have more spawn.
A standard mode is to roam around the stage and suck up tennis balls (or Yummies, as the game calls them). Occasionally, you have a time limit within which you must complete the level. One of the harder modes is Survival, where you can take only so many hits before you fail the stage. This task seems easy enough at first, especially if the stage has only stationary hazards. However, a mechanic in Pig Eat Ball that plays a crucial role here is that the more Yummies you suck up the larger your pig grows, making it more difficult. You may get rid of tennis balls you’ve inhaled by vomiting them, though.
Under certain conditions, your pig vomits involuntarily after time has passed. Hitting spikes can cause this. An intriguing feature is that if you do hit spikes, activating the vomit timer, hitting more spikes or eating more Yummies resets this timer. If you’re near the end of the level and don’t have to worry about health (such as in Survival), this is a viable strategy.
Witnessing the pig vomiting or bacon strips flying off him whenever he takes damage might produce a “What am I playing?” response. At times, it’s difficult to say precisely what you’re playing — you have to experience the hilarious visuals and narrative to understand, and this game is well worth it.
The Verdict: Excellent
Pig Eat Ball is a wacky adventure that seamlessly blends Pac-Man-esque arcade mechanics with entertaining gameplay and dialogue that’s sure to make you laugh out loud. I knew when I initially saw the game that I had to play it, and I knew once I had seen the first screen and heard the music (retro, but unique and innovative) that I had something wonderful on my hands. The only complaint is that on occasion Pig Eat Ball stutters during a stage, but aside from this, if you’re looking to play an arcade-esque title that reimagines particular mechanics from Pac-Man and doesn’t lightly drizzle but pours endless layers of absurdity into the mix, this is for you.