Even though it sounds strange to say it, I love a lot of villains in video games. When you think of how many games revolve around defeating a protagonist, then a well-drawn, fully rounded bad guy (or gal) not only adds to the fun of playing, it can almost be the entire reason to play a game in the first place. However, every rule has its exception and, for me in this instance, it’s the collection of pigs in Angry Birds. I absolutely loathe them.
The pigs in Angry Birds aren’t exceptionally deep and they aren’t what you’d call complex. They are crudely drawn green balls that are more a collection of tactically placed circles than a realistic rendering of any real-world animal. They communicate through grunts and giggles. They look for all the world like fairly innocuous characters.
Still, as simplistic as they are in their design, I have come to view them as spiteful and hateful little slimebags. They are bastions of everything petty and mean-spirited in this world and the next. They are so awful, they’ve undone every good piece of PR that has ever been put into the world on behalf of the porcine community. I used to think that the movie Babe was unjustly passed over for the Best Picture Oscar in the year it was nominated. (Don’t believe me? IMDB it) Now, I don’t care that it lost – and this is entirely down to those pigs in Angry Birds.
In all fairness to Babe, the reason my Angry Birds pig hatred is also a result of the game’s interface. If you’ve never played it, here’s how it works: you have a line of birds to fire from a slingshot at pigs who are hiding behind or in structures made out of stone, glass, wood and other material. Like so:
Due its gameplay, Angry Birds is a game of inches; adjusting the direction of the slingshot a tad here and there can mean the difference between a direct hit and a complete miss. Sure, that’s what lends the game challenge and makes it more fun to play, but every single miss is greeted by a chorus of insufferably smug chortles from the pigs that the player hasn’t managed to crush.
This wouldn’t be so bad, except that the player’s success in the game hinges completely on on trial and error. This means that you’ll spend a lot of time firing birds at intended targets and missing. This in turn means that you will spent the lion’s share of the game listening to the malevolent little pigs sniggering at you. Initially it’s bearable, but after a while it becomes downright infuriating. In a way, it’s almost like the game itself is laughing at the player’s ineptitude every time they miss. Every single time one of your birds flies wide of a target it feels as if the game is saying: “Ha ha ha! Look at how rubbish you are!” Unless you toggle the mute, the antagonists, far from being a draw in Angry Birds, actually put you off the experience of playing it.
After playing Angry Birds incessantly on my commute to work for a couple of weeks, I have become convinced of four things;
1) The pigs – in Angry Birds are incredibly effective villains.
2) I hate them with a passion that borders on the murderous.
3) Trial and error games should have less irritating scrotes in them.
4) The mute function in Angry Birds is almost more crucial to your enjoyment than the mute function in Call Of Duty’s multiplayer.
Oh, and I shall enjoy my next bacon sandwich immensely. Who’s laughing now, pigs!!?