Every so often – perhaps once a year – I give a score that I regret. It happened with Cozy Grove, which I handed 3.5 out of 5 to, and then proceeded to play for hundreds of hours (what a game!). It also happened with My Friend Peppa Pig, which I dismissed with a 2.5 out of 5, mostly because it “lasts about as long as a bag of Percy Pigs”.
Now, while this statement is true, I am a middle-aged reviewer and – I’ll take a wild stab here – My Friend Peppa Pig isn’t made for me. I thought I’d allowed for that in the review, attempting to put myself in the shoes of a pre-schooler, but evidently that’s not one of my skills. Because, after posting the review live, my youngest got hold of the game, and she proceeded to have something like an euphoric experience. This was Peppa Pig the cartoon, but with the ability to move characters about. Her eyes widened and a gaming hobby was born.
So, I come to Peppa Pig: World Adventures with a small, spirally tail between my legs. Sure. I will try to be objective and impartial, but there’s a sense of injustice burning away, like crackling. This was made for my daughter first, and me a distant second.
Peppa Pig: World Adventures doesn’t mess with the template of My Friend Peppa Pig too much. Like that game, you are playing a friend rather than Peppa herself. This means you can mess with an expanded character creation system, yet still have Peppa around to offer her faintly entitled, self-interested commentary.
You get to create one or two parents (not necessarily of the same species) and also your home, before you move into Peppa’s neighbourhood. Hilariously, you barely get to unpack before Peppa is up in your grill, demanding that you travel around-the-world with her family. In a twist, your parents are perfectly happy to let you go. You get to go to Germany, Spain, America and Australia with some randos they’ve just met. The excuse is that your parents are unpacking and could do with the free time.
Ugh – we can already feel ourselves falling into the same old trap of reviewing as the wrong audience. Excuse us as we flip a switch back to our kid’s experience.
Our four-year old was ecstatic to be back in the world of Peppa Pig again. One of the miracles of Peppa Pig: World Adventures is that it’s almost completely flush with the TV series. Outside of some wonky voices (Peppa’s Dad and Mrs. Rabbit are different actors or – at the very least – not the one we recognise), this IS the cartoon they know and love. The world, the characters, the music: they are all presented in glorious detail. It’s exactly as your piglets will know and remember them. The fidelity is perfect.
It should be noted that there’s a different structure at play to My Friend Peppa Pig. In that game, the designers were happy to let the player explore and get lost on the way to beaches, museums and castles. Peppa Pig: World Adventures dispenses with most of that. You wonder if Outright Games know something we don’t: that younger players can’t handle that degree of freedom, and get irredeemably lost, to the point of giving up. As a result, the world is smaller. You get the two houses – yours and Peppa’s – Mrs. Gazelle’s playgroup, and that’s it. It’s a much, much more constrained world.
Instead, you get to hop in Daddy Pig’s car to head to the Harbour, where a cruise ship waits to take you to eight locations. Those locations are only a few screens in size, too, so the possibility of getting lost is vastly reduced. This is a more managed world to explore.
We’ve got friction burns from getting on and off the fence about this change. You see, as an older player, we much preferred the open-ish world. Of course we would: it’s less handholding. There are no surprises, and few opportunities for exploration. But our kid didn’t care about the change – she was just happy to be playing a Peppa cartoon – and she admittedly didn’t get lost. What she did get was confused – this time by the noticeboard UI that takes you to the different locations, which was a touch too complicated for her. So, while getting lost was no longer a problem, she found a new wall to hit.
We take a little umbrage that Peppa Pig: World Adventures presents the travel destinations as America, Australia, Germany, and then ‘London’ and ‘Barcelona’. The educator inside of us disliked that there was no consistency between countries and cities. But hey, the globetrotting theme is a good one.
You get to travel by submarine to the Great Barrier Reef; climb the Eiffel Tower; order pizza in Italy; and see the Gaudi architecture of Barcelona. It’s all very surface level, but that’s precisely what a pre-schooler needs. You even get to meet Queen Elizabeth II, which clearly presented a problem to the developers, yet has been leapfrogged with panache. A heartfelt coda explains the decision to leave her in.
These sojourns into different locations give Peppa Pig: World Adventures an episodic but satisfying feeling that our four-year old loved. She asked whether we could visit the places in real life, and they differed enough that she began finding favourites. There’s even slightly more interaction than in the previous game: a memorable moment has you shape-sorting stained-glass windows in Barcelona. You can also make your choice of pizza in Italy.
But in comes the conundrum, because as much as Peppa Pig: World Adventures feels like a step up from My Friend Peppa Pig, and certainly a broadening of its horizons, it is also unfinished. It was enough for our little ’un to notice, questioning why Peppa and friends were doing curious things while she was trying to concentrate.
Peppa jumps into a swimming pool while her swimming costume remains floating on the pool’s edge. Peppa wears a table for a head. The family flickers in and out of existence at their restaurant table. Peppa yells at the player to complete an objective that they’ve already done.
As we moved through the locations, things got worse, not better, as if the developers tried to hide the most buggy areas at the end of the queue. Almost every transition in the game was choppy, with errors on every location change.
Peppa Pig: World Adventures is Swiss cheese: it’s clearly got a myriad of problems, from the animations to audio to graphics, and they were evident enough for our young player to turn to us with a frown and ask what’s wrong. For a game so simplistic, which stands on the shoulders of its predecessor, it’s hard to make an excuse. This should be so much more finished than it is, and we hope that Outright Games and Undercoders can find room for a substantial patch.
We came to Peppa Pig: World Adventures, determined to make amends for scoring its predecessor, My Friend Peppa Pig, lower than it really deserved. But it’s hard to find redemption in a sequel that’s as buggy as this is. Peppa Pig: World Adventures judders and spasms with glitches.
Booting up Peppa Pig: World Adventures on launch day today, a substantial day-one patch has addressed a few of the glaring issues. But there are still wonkinesses here, particularly in the transitions between scenes. Peppa’s still not cooked: not quite. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot to explore in Peppa Pig: World Adventures, and while the game feels paradoxically more constrained as it goes global, it’s also an experience that had our four-year old jumping up and down on the sofa, singing that flipping theme tune all day.
You can buy Peppa Pig: World Adventures from the Xbox Store