Review of Pigs VS Wolves (Digiarty Software, 2010) for the Apple Ipod Touch and iPhone

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Pigs VS Wolves (2010), featured on the iPho Game Development Website, is Digiarty Software's recently released tower defense game, available on iTunes, for the iPod Touch/iPhone. Pigs VS Wolves comes out hot on the heels of powerhouse PopCap Games strikingly similar, but higher profile, Plants vs Zombies, which, besides being available on the iPod Touch/iPhone, also has versions available for the PC, Mac, and Web. Not having played Plants vs Zombies, besides the obvious visual differences, the only other major distinction that I can see is the price. Plants vs Zombies runs $2.99, while Pigs VS Wolves is just $.99--at least for a limited time. Therefore, without a true basis for comparison, I will only review Pigs VS Wolves on its own merits, keeping in mind the existence of the prior product from a much larger developer/publisher.

Tower defense games are considered a sub-genre of real-time strategy games, with the most basic goal to stop enemies from reaching a particular point. Wikipedia points to Atari's Rampart, a 1990 arcade game from Atari, as forming the foundation of this sub-genre's roots. While I think that simplifies history a bit and minimizes the truly hybrid nature of Rampart - which I argue is part Tetris - it's ultimately a fair assertion. One of my personal favorites in this sub-genre is PixelJunk Monsters (Q-Games, 2008; Sony PlayStation 3 (PSN)), though I've certainly played my share of others, including South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! (Doublesix, 2009; Microsoft Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)), that I've tended to like much less. Major distinctions between the tower defense games include how much real-time elements there are and of course the overall imagination and cohesiveness that goes into all of the defensive and board designs. The vast majority of these games feature levels that start out simple but progressively add more playing pieces to the mix, requiring an increasing amount of thought in both defensive selection and asset allocation, as well as an increasing amount of trial and error to both learn new capabilities and properly utilize them to fight off the hoards of enemies.

The developer describes Pigs VS Wolves as follows (and we must at least partially forgive their non-native English):
The battle of wits begins! As a new generation TD game, "Pigs VS Wolves" makes your iPhone/iPod screen more entertaining and challenging than ever before.
You will play the role of heroic pig - 15 characters available for you to control. And your enemies are 11 kinds of evil wolves. During the game, there is a measure of resource management involved. Defense or attack, you decide your strategies. With the skillfully designed levels to dig into, the fun never dies!

And the completely unnecessary back story:
A group of ravening wolves are approaching, get ready to defend yourself! You need to start the game by generating gold coins. Use the gold coins to buy more gold coin generators, exchange characters or defensive props. Everything is flexible. You will never feel bored since different defensive strategies bring about different effects. Take up your arms and fight!

The Pigs VS Wolves icon on my iPhone (Note: Aeropack will be the next review for this platform):

How to play and the screen elements:
1. The bright character means you can select and use it.
2. The character that you have selected will appear obscure and unusable.
3. Unknown character. It will be available when you reach the level.
4. Character you have selected will appear in the bottom cell, including gold coin generator, pigs and props.
5. The amount of vacant cells stands for the remaining amount of characters you can select and use.
1. All the characters that you control.
2. The default amount of gold coins assigned to the particular level.
3. The wolves, which attack pigs.
4. When all vacant cells are occupied, the red button will turn blue. Click it to start the game.
1. The amount of gold coins you have generated.
2. The battle field for pigs and wolves.
3. The characters available for defending and attacking wolves.
4. Eraser can be used to remove the character that has been placed into the cell. (Not the wolf.)
5. Menu.

As you can see, visually, there's nothing wrong with the game, providing a nice, clean look. Sound is equally professional, with plenty of sound effects and whimsical in-level music (just ignore the game's generic synth rock intro). Control is naturally well suited to the strengths of the platform, with single finger taps for both selecting and placing elements. Even though this game is considered turn-based, the action can get rather heated as the wolves advance and you're trying to place new defensive pieces as soon as they're ready, so it's good to know that the control scheme can keep up.

One of my favorite early strategies is to create a simple line of target dummies to slow the wolves down (don't forget to place pieces to generate that gold!):

Early on, you have enough slots to match the available defensive pieces. As you can see here, as you progress through the game, there are fewer slots than the available pieces I can choose from. This naturally requires choosing a proper balance of weaker, but cheaper, defenders, and more powerful, but more expensive and slower firing, defenders, to successful complete the level.

You'll see this screen a lot in the later levels:

The official trailer for Pigs VS Wolves:

So, whether you prefer pigs and wolves, or plants and zombies, I don't believe you can go wrong with either game (though if you're a Pooyan fan like I am and a whee bit tired of zombie this and zombie that, I know which way you'll lean). Even with not having played Plants vs Zombies, frankly as popular as that game is, it seems like a no-brainer to own both. After all, even if they are basically the same game, new levels and a different skin are always welcome to keep the enjoyment going, particularly at these prices, right? I give Pigs VS Wolves a must play 4 out of 5 stars [(x)(x)(x)(x)( )]. Oink, Oink!

[Thanks to Sophia from Digiarty Software for providing a review copy.]


Ishan (not verified)

Yes Pigs vs Wolves may be cheaper but it is way far from plants vs zombies. Controls suck too much. You tap on a square but the unit appears on the squre beside it. At first I was thinking I was the one making mistakes but after placing units again and again on cells i dont intend to put them even when I touch the screen carefully I gave up on the game. I think that is why they have the eraser in the controls since you will need it. Sadly it does not reimburse coins and you end up dying due to the mistake.

Placing units are also slow. Ive tapped the screen several times before it responds. Overall I think the development is more designed to favor the Wolves. This game is way far from plants vs Zombies. As they say you get what you pay for. This game is a real sucker.

Eben (not verified)
Pigs Vs. Wolves

To Ishan:
Try tapping on the units with a pencil or something.

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