Our family’s got a complicated relationship with Peppa Pig. My kids love it, but my wife and I have been dodging it for years, switching channels to Bluey or Hey Duggee, hoping those would stick instead. Why are we so anti-Peppa? There’s something about how she needs to be the centre of attention, yet never gets a comeuppance. But we’ve failed. Peppa Pig gets watched regardless. Peppa Pig is inevitable.
So, let it be known: we may not be unbiased. There’s a resentment deep in our soul for Peppa Pig and, no matter how much we’ve tried to scrub it for this review, we suspect it pops up now and again.
For the majority of our playthrough of My Friend Peppa Pig, though, we watched our three and six-year olds playing. They’re both Peppa Pig fans, and the prospect of a full-blown gaming adventure got them jumping up and down on the sofa. At least in our household, there is an audience for My Friend Peppa Pig.
The first impressions were off the charts. My Friend Peppa Pig looks exactly like a Peppa Pig cartoon. Everything is correct to pinpoint accuracy, from the characters to the locations to the way everything moves. There’s almost nothing on the screen that makes you feel like you’re playing a game. Interfaces have been stripped out, and there are only occasional button prompts to disrupt the immersion. On more than one occasion, our kids would sit and watch the screen rather than play, forgetting that it wasn’t a cartoon.
As parents, we noticed that some of the voices were a little off-piste, but our kids were less bothered. Daddy Pig is the widest of the mark, but we were convinced that Mummy Pig and the narrator were also different voices. But since some characters have been voiced by multiple actors across different seasons, it feels harsh to pull it up for inconsistency.
Your first job in My Friend Peppa Pig is to create your character. This is a reasonably robust character editor that would have benefited from more wildly different animals (too many are foxes/dogs/cats, and we’d have loved some zebras, elephants and the rest), but nonetheless did the job. If our children are in a character editor for a quarter of an hour, a game has got its character editor right, and that’s what happened here.
Movement is purely left and right on the analogue stick, as this is entirely 2D. You can jump, but that’s more for effect than anything else, and you can press A to interact with something on that 2D plane. The simplicity put My Friend Peppa Pig absolutely in our three- and six-year old’s wheelhouse: they had no issue with moving around and playing with the world. There are no worries here: your little ones aren’t going to get stuck behind platforms, working against time limits, or fighting evil goblins. This is as friction-free as they come.
My Friend Peppa Pig is less a game and more a toy. You wander about, pressing A on things to see what they might say or do, just as you’d press buttons on a V-tech tablet to see what it might say. It’s a box of things that react to you, and it only gives you objectives on occasion: things like getting a tortoise down from a tree, finding Daddy Pig’s glasses or gathering some lost chickens. But these can be ignored, and you can merrily trot around at your own pace.
As a playground, it’s got some nice interactions. You can pick up a kite and move backwards and forwards with it. A game of catch requires you to press A to pass it to George and Peppa. A hot air balloon goes up when you press A and down when you don’t. It will, of course, infuriate and bore grown ups no end. Our three-year old, though, had a whale of a time.
For a while, at least. My Friend Peppa Pig has limitations in its repetition and its play time, and these should be known up-front before you make a purchase. These issues grated more with our six-year old than our three-year old, which may act as a measure for your children, and how they will react to My Friend Peppa Pig.
My Friend Peppa Pig doesn’t care if you’ve seen something before. It will show you it again and again and again. So, go visit Daddy Pig and he will introduce himself. Go visit him twenty times afterwards, even after you’ve completed the game, and he will introduce himself again. Take a hot air balloon and the same little bird will say hello on BOTH the trip there and the one back. All of this happens in long, protracted and unskippable cutscenes, so you’re stuck watching them.
Travel to a house, and a title card will appear, then Peppa might say something, and then the narrator will needlessly repeat it. And this will happen every time you go there. Couple this with long loading times between scenes – even on Xbox Series X|S – and it becomes a substantial enough problem that our six-year old noticed. She let out little infuriated grunts as she was stuck on this non-interactive carousel, forced to watch the couple of minutes of title cards and narrations that she’s already seen.
For our three-year-old who will merrily watch Tellytubbies say “again, again”, and repeat the same Youtube clips repeatedly, it was okay. She was jabbing the controls and wondering why Peppa’s friend wasn’t moving, but the repetition wasn’t as dramatic a problem. For our six-year old, it was a constant, teeth-grinding frustration that control was being taken away, and the game was definitely at fault for it. Ah, she learned some valuable game design lessons that day.
Regardless, neither of our kids have stuck with My Friend Peppa Pig that long, simply because there isn’t much to do, and not enough places to go. Go to the Beach and there are three things to do. There’s four at Potato City and another four at a ski resort. When there are only eight or so locations in total, you don’t need to know your times-tables to understand that My Friend Peppa Pig is limited. And when me and my wife sat down to play it after the kids had gone to bed, we had done everything in an hour, and that was mostly down to unskippable cutscenes and slow loading times. Our daughters were done with it in just over twice that.
When you’re a parent, you’re always judging the value of things. Is a cinema trip worth it for a bit of quiet? Is the toy you’re being nagged about good value? We’re masters of the £/h ratio. So when My Friend Peppa Pig collectively generated three hours of play for £34.99, and not a quiet three hours either – there were too many complaints about getting stuck in cutscene loops – then our parental alarms went haywire. There are dozens of better ways to spend that amount of money.
Plenty of mums.net points go to My Friend Peppa Pig for its suitability. This is a Peppa Pig cartoon that you get to jump around in, and at no point were we asked for help. If you’re looking for a gateway game for a young player, particularly in the three-to-five range, then My Friend Peppa Pig rises to that challenge.
But we’re discerning adults, and we expect value for money. My Friend Peppa Pig lasts about as long as a bag of Percy Pigs, but costs about twenty times as much. And when a six-year old, far less discerning than we are, complains about how often it repeats itself, and how much it tends to take control away, then we tend to listen.
So, there we go: that 2.5/5 isn’t just because we think Peppa is a self-centred demonspawn.
You can buy My Friend Peppa Pig for £34.99 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S