Apple enjoy reminding us that there’s an app for just about everything. My immediate reaction? “Sure, whatever. I bet pigs can fly, too.” Well, apparently they can… sort of, anyway. ‘There’s an app for that’, and it’s called Pigs in Trees. In it, a fighter pilot pig doesn’t just fly – he flies in style, engaging in aerial combat with swarms of fearsome feathered foes. Woodpeckers fly at a pig fortress (a tree) from all angles, screeching threateningly as they approach. It’s your job to protect the swine palace by drawing the pig’s route around the sky, directing him towards the angry birds. On his approach, your porcine pal shoots at the enemies he’s heading towards.
When drawing a route, calculating it so that the pig shoots down several birds whilst following it builds up combo multipliers, earning you more points. In each of the 99 cent game’s 45 levels, you are rewarded with up to three medals – gaining a medal requires that you exceed a specified points threshold. Earning three medals isn’t easy, needing quick reactions, thoughtful forward thinking and a little bit of luck. In later levels, I struggled to get one medal, let alone three. In fact, I often had to retry stages several times; if you get hurt by birds three times and can’t repair your plane (more on that later), or if your tree gets damaged by four or more birds, piggyville will be overrun by beaks and you’ll have to try the level again.
Pigs in Trees is full of variety. Different kinds of birds fly at you – some can only be attacked from specific directions, others detonate after a certain time period. Some have shields attached to their beaks. Each of the many abilities is cleverly implemented, and it’s great fun uncovering new enemies and using different tactics to dispose of them. Similarly, a whole host of different power-ups make an appearance, allowing you to repair your plane to full health, scatter floating mines around the tree and more. There’s a lot to discover in the game, and thankfully the game does a brilliant job of introducing new gameplay elements gradually, with handy help messages popping up whenever necessary. You can easily flick through all of these messages at any time during the game, eliminating any possibilities of uncertainty about what does what and how. Confusion never becomes an issue.
This is also the case when the screen is flooded with items. The game graphics are very clear, and animations are all as smooth as melting ice cream, so it’s easy to keep track of the action. High quality audio adds to the experience – pig grunting, piano tinkling and the friendly sound of bullets popping through the sky will smother your ears with tiny, polished kisses.
All in all, it’s hard to fault Pigs in Trees, and even harder to praise everything about it that I want to. I’ve not yet mentioned the pixar-quality intro movie, the fluidity of the game’s controls or the beautiful transition of the tree through the seasons as you progress through the game. The game might benefit from more than one mode, but to be honest, the mode on offer is so engaging that asking for more is just being greedy – especially considering that more levels are on the way via a free update. The app currently has a small bug, with some achievements not registering, a problem that will hopefully be addressed soon. If you like action games, strategy games, line-drawing games, or, in fact, any other games, do yourself a favour and add this to your collection.