Sometimes, the title of a game can really get your mind thinking, wildly pondering even, about the adventure that awaits you. This is true of Pig Eat Ball, but at the same time it sums up the game pretty well. It does what it says on the tin. You’re a pig that goes round eating balls. Simple.
Pig Eat Ball is an arcade inspired top-down puzzle-action game about stuffing your face with as many sweet treats as possible. You have the main adventure mode for single players, and a 4 player local party mode for competitive action. There’s a decent amount of options here for you to battle it out against your mates, including custom levels and goals to choose from.
In the single player adventure you play as Princess Bow, the titular pig. Your father decides it’s time for you to get married, however all you really want to do is explore the Space Station Kingdom. So, as your father organises “The Royal Games” to decide your most suited partner, you don a disguise and decide to compete yourself.
Princess Bow needs to win pearls to progress through the various space stations, and these can be tracked down by exploring the hub area of each world, beating the numerous challenges that await you. You’ll be ranked when you complete them, and you can track your progress by hitting the view button at any time.
In the hub world, you’ll also unlock new areas when you earn gold medals in all events, or “challenge sections”. However, when playing I didn’t feel the urge to replay levels to earn those top accolades, as the generous amount limits their replay value somewhat. It does pay to explore these hub areas however, as you will find special items dotted around.
Clams around the world will offer up their pearls in exchange for you beating all of their action levels. In each, you move around sucking up yummies in a Kirby-esque way, and need to gobble them all up to beat the level. As you eat you get fatter, so to navigate tight spaces you need to “barf” to pass through. Doing this spits out the yummies you have collected, so you’ll need to go and eat them again. If you wait for a short time, they will lose their green glow and once again become safe to gobble up. You can also dispatch enemies depending on their type, normally by charging into them or barfing on them.
As you play, different variations are thrown into the mix such as time limits and competitive gobbling, however it’s a fairly slow burner to begin with. You’ll get the hang of things pretty quickly, and things don’t change too much for the first few clusters of levels, leaving things to feel like a bit of a grind. It’s worth sticking with it though, as Pig Eat Ball is a late bloomer, and things start to open up once you clear the first space station. However, the action never gets too challenging despite being a puzzler, and the option to turn on “easy mode” if you are struggling will appear regularly regardless of this. Although aimed at being accessible to all, it does feel a bit too easy a lot of the time.
With no great difficulty coming from the puzzle element of the game, it’s a shame that you can’t find it elsewhere. You can just plough through enemies to hoover up the yummies with little consequence. When you take a hit, a barf counter will tick down, and if you don’t get hurt again in a specific time you’ll barf all your yummies up. This will mean you’ll need to gobble them all up once again. Further to that, there are some levels where you have lives to worry about, meaning you can die. This adds some suspense, but not an awful lot – and for the most part Pig Eat Ball encourages fast and exciting gameplay, but does rather take the challenge out of things. The balance feels slightly off.
As mentioned earlier, the items you find whilst exploring the hub world include power ups and disguises. These will affect you in different ways, having both advantages and disadvantages. Picking the right one for the level ahead is the best way to benefit from them. They will alter your abilities such as suction distance and speed, amongst others.
Pig Eat Ball is easy to pick up and play and controls well, using the left stick to move around and the D-Pad to navigate tighter, more dangerous areas. The A button is used to boost and smash through blocks, X lets you move slower and temporarily stops you sucking in yummies, and B is used to “barf” out said yummies.
The arcade inspired visuals look decent enough, and you can certainly see the influence of franchises such as Pac-Man here. However, the menus are really basic and pretty ugly if I’m being honest, which admittedly is only a minor gripe. Otherwise, the music does the job and, whilst it isn’t particularly memorable, it is the right amount of crazy to fit the theme of the game.
Pig Eat Ball boasts over 200 levels across five different worlds which provides roughly 10-14 hours of gameplay. Not only that, but you’ll encounter several huge boss battles throughout, with these dominating the screen as you face off against them. All that for the modest sum of £12.49 too – not bad at all.
Pig Eat Ball on Xbox One is a game unlike any other in many ways, and there’s plenty on offer for your money here. Despite lacking challenge and taking a while to reveal its depth, it’s still a lot of fun to play.