Review: Pig Eat Ball (PS4)


Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • XBox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required
  • Move None
Title: Pig Eat Ball
Format: PSN (363 MB)
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Publisher: Mommy’s Best Games
Developer: Mommy’s Best Games
Original MSRP: $14.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E10+
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Pig Eat Ball is exactly as bonkers as you might expect a game called Pig Eat Ball would be. It is a top-down puzzle adventure game in which you play as a flying pig named Princess Bow who must eat tennis balls and barf them up to navigate through the various stages of her cake-headed father’s Royal Games. A giant shrimp named Samson, the Royal Advisor to King Cake, guides Princess Bow through the five space stations in hopes of collecting all of the pearls from the Royal Clams. All the while, a mysterious, pipe-smoking chimpanzee named The Dean observes from the shadows and frets about the King Cake’s mismanagement of the space stations’ power reserves. Bonkers!

The goal of most levels in Pig Eat Ball is to eat all of the balls. There are also Timed levels in which you race against the clock, and Survival levels in which you have to avoid damage, but the main objective is still to clear all of the balls. Other levels involve facing off against three AI bugs in various competitions, such as being first to suck in all of the sandwich ingredients and spit them onto your plate. These can be welcome diversions from the standard levels that sometimes become repetitive. Pig Eat Ball is a surprisingly extensive game, with over 200 levels and more than ten hours of gameplay, especially if you want to get all of the collectibles and earn top ratings on all of the levels. While the length is nice if you cannot get enough of the puzzler, it does suffer from stretches of monotony between levels.

To eat the balls, or yummies as they are sometimes called in the game, you just need to fly towards them since Princess Bow is constantly sucking in by default. You can hold down the square button to cut off her intake if you need to avoid pulling in something that can cause harm like a spiky ball or bomb. Pig Eat Ball‘s core mechanics work together in a way that feels great and requires a lot of precise movement and timing in some of the more challenging levels. There is a unique combination of solid, responsive controls and a floatiness to Princess Bow’s movement that continues to feel better as you progress through the game.


As Princess Bow ingests tennis balls, she grows larger and larger, eventually inhibiting her from fitting through tight spots. That is when barfing the balls back out comes into play. By retching up the contents of your stomach you can shrink down in size and clear narrow passages, or just move the balls from one part of the level to another. The balls can also be barfed onto various objects throughout the game to varying helpful effects. The animation and accompanying sound effects are as gross as you might imagine. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, the repetitive retching may even hinder your will to play through the game. Fortunately, the options menu allows you to tone down the volume of barf.

Taking damage or eating too many recently vomited balls causes a Barf Timer to start. When the timer counts all the way down, Princess Bow evacuates the contents of her stomach in a truly disgusting fashion and you have to track all of the balls down again and vacuum them up. The timer can be reset by crashing through crates, taking damage, or simply by eating another ball. This mechanic feels counter-intuitive, as it rewards you for continuing to do the thing that got you in trouble in the first place. It seems like some of the levels were not designed with that mechanic in mind. Areas that would otherwise be difficult become a chaotic mess of trying run into or eat everything that moves on the screen. There is fun to be had by becoming a porcine wrecking ball, but overall it tends to detract from the game’s puzzles.


The space stations in Pig Eat Ball function as interactive hub worlds that connect the Royal Clams you must visit to play their levels. Each space station has four modules that are unlocked by clearing the levels and collecting enough pearls to move on. There is plenty to do in each space station in between levels. There are items to pick up, mazes to explore, and outlandish NPCs to chat with. Powerups are scattered around each module and usually require solving a puzzle or completing a quick NPC-given mission to obtain.

The powerups are one-time use items that help you complete a particularly tough level. They can range from a shield that blocks incoming damage to a magnetic that is pulled behind you and attracts all nearby tennis balls. Only five of any one type of powerup can be carried at a time and they are readily available throughout each space station, so there is no need to be stingy with them. They can be a lot of fun to experiment with and they offer a nice way to circumvent a challenging level before it becomes too frustrating.

Throughout the game, Princess Bow finds or unlocks various disguises to wear. Narratively, she dons the costumes to avoid being recognized by her father as she plays through the Royal Games. The Royal Games were established in order to find a worthy suitor for Princess Bow, but being an independent young sow she has other ideas. She wants to win the Games and in doing so win her free will. The disguises not only serve as a plot device in the game’s oddball of a story, though, they also affect how you play the game. Each disguise has both a positive and negative effect, like the Curly Mustache that provides more boost control but a shorter suction range.

Each space station has a boss fight, and they are some of the best moments in the game. The boss designs are seemingly from another universe and will have you questioning whether or not they are part of some kind of fever dream. Interesting new mechanics are introduced in the battles but without direct instruction, which makes learning and applying them all the more rewarding.



Visuals:
Pig Eat Ball has a 90’s-Saturday-morning-cartoons aesthetic that suits its personality perfectly. Character designs are incredibly imaginative and varied. When you take a moment to really get a good look at the insanity unfolding before you, you cannot help but laugh and shake your head.

Each space station has its own theme that is carried out with painstaking detail in the hubs as well as throughout the levels. Enemy models vary based on the theme and sometimes they introduce new mechanics. In the sports-themed level, for instance, a new type of enemy pillbug is introduced that targets you with darts that they toss into the air. The old-school animation is the dart growing in size as it arcs upward then shrinking back down before it hits the ground is incredibly charming. The changing themes help keep the game fresh as you progress.



As previously mentioned, the boss fights are stand-out moments in the game. The character designs are so creative that they pull your eyes towards them when they are on the screen, sometimes to the detriment of Princess Bow. Some of the bosses have a level of grossness to them, too. These have a bit of a train wreck effect and you cannot help but stare.

Sometimes the mishmash of colors, textures, and animations can go overboard. During the more chaotic moments of Pig Eat Ball, it can actually be hard to tell what is going on and you have to hope for the best. What may be an eye-catching, vibrant setting one moment can quickly devolve into a clashing mass of chaos that detracts from the puzzle-solving mechanics.

Throughout the game there are some not-too-subtle nods to classic arcade titles, both in looks and gameplay. These moments are treats to behold, such as the Pac-Man-inspired level complete with ghosts in relentless pursuit or the bar tables straight out of Tapper where you can even slide a beer down to a parched pillbug.


Audio:
The soundtrack of Pig Eat Ball is huge and has its fair share of catchy songs. Songs change along with the space station that you are in. Mostly consisting of funky elevator tunes, there is a definite disparity between the best and worst songs in the game. This is no The Messenger soundtrack, but it does seem to fit the throwback nature of the game and help establish its personality.

The sound effects are goofy and over-the-top, especially when it comes to the sound of hurling up a stomach full of tennis balls. Gulping and belching accompaniments are pretty disgusting, so if you have a strong aversion to such sounds you may want to tone down the sound effects in the options menu. At various moments throughout the game the sound effects do an odd, off putting thing. The sounds layer on top of each other seemingly endlessly, getting louder and louder, so that you experience a sudden spike in volume. This is grating to say the least, and takes some of the shine off of an otherwise polished audio experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
Pig Eat Ball’s local multiplayer party mode hearkens back to the times that inspired its visual aesthetic. One to four players can take part in curated group of minigames or you can create your own playlist. The minigames are similar to the levels in the game in which you compete against three insects. They are fast-paced and frenzied competition to be the best at eating, causing damage, or completing some kind of silly task. Points are tallied between each game and eventually a flying pig is crowned supreme. It is great to see the attention that developer Mommy’s Best Games gave to this multiplayer mode.

Conclusion:
When you pick up a game called Pig Eat Ball and take a look at its cartoonish graphics you may expect a casual game and an occasional laugh to be had. What you probably would not expect is a well-grounded and unique control scheme, collectibles and achievement-chasing that can carry the game well beyond its already lengthy campaign, and a multiplayer party mode that can lead to hours of spirited competition. The game is certainly not without flaws, namely some repetitiveness throughout its 200-plus levels and various mechanics that minimize the thoughtfulness of a more traditional puzzle game. However, beneath an inventive visual presentation, Pig Eat Ball is a surprisingly complete package that exudes its fun-loving personality from beginning to end.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Brock Arnett

Gamer since the NES days, Boilermaker, Colts and Pacers fan. I can’t wait until my two boys are old enough to play games with me.

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