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Pass the Pigs is the DS version of the well known rubber pig based dice game. The use of the touch screen to imitate the throwing of the pigs combined with a sensible no-thrills implementation make this a good electronic version of the game.
Minigames come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relativley short time requried to complete a level or two.
The novelty of this minigame is its Pass the Pigs licence. This household name brings a touch of class to what was in danger of being a mediocre experience. Thankfully it has been used with some restraint as well, respecting the simple joys of throwing a couple of plastic pigs until your luck runs out.
All the pig combinations of the original game are provided. It is also structured in the same way was the physical game. Each player has five turns and keep rolling until they hit one pig spot up and the other spot down. At any point the player can stop rolling, bank their points, and move onto the next round. At the end of the game the player with the most banked points wins.
The throwing can be controlled with a couple of button presses, although the most enjoyable method is to use the stylus to shake the pigs and charge your throw bar. When it gets to the optimum point you simple flick the stylus up to throw.
The game then adds a couple of novel features. Firstly, in addition to the single and multiplayer modes there is a story based game where you travel the world as a Pass the Pigs professional, challenging various characters to games. Secondly, you can buy power-ups for your pigs. This essentially weights them towards a certain roll. Adding a nose-ring for example makes jowlers more common.
There is no online multiplayer mode and locally you have to play on one DS, although this isn't a big problem as it is a turn based experience anyway. What is more of a challenge for the game is offering enough value to justify its price over the physical Pass the Pigs set.
The simplicity of the game is the biggest attraction here. By replacing dice with the more complex rubber pigs seem to strike a chord with the gaming public and made the original Pass the Pigs a hugely popular success. The DS game manages to capture that same sense of piggy fun.
As in real life, in two player mode, the game manages to setup some nail biting finishes as each player pushes their luck more and more. The sense of disappointment to breaking the bank with a loosing roll is as heart felt as any video game defeat.
Although this is a minigame, experienced players can take a good five to ten minutes to complete a game. As the scores increase and the players can upgrade their pigs the rounds are similarly weighted to last longer.
The simplicity of the game is well suited to even infant players. As we saw with super young favourite Pac 'n Roll DS the stylus interface here really lowers the barrier to entry. Our three year old player this for a good half an hour without needing any assistance. This game looks like it could join the hallowed few Infant recommended games for 2009.
Gamers who are slightly older or more experience, particularly those that have played the original game may find the experience gets tired more quickly. Factoring in the cheaper price of the real world game and the DS version will struggle to justify its price.
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