Special Agent Wood is within arms reach of chemicals in a high-speed boat chase, when he’s told to abort his current mission and instead report in to act as the protector-in-chief of the President’s pig, Ramón. This never happened to 007.
That’s the plot of Operation Pig, an arcade-inspired title from Vikalb. Told through a series of early cut scenes, the developers’ humour shines through in the form of fourth-wall breaking dialogue and acknowledgements of how implausible the game’s plot is – the pig is a gift from Spain, and must be protected at all costs, as the other world leaders want to kill it to deny the satisfaction of some tasty meals down the line for the President. But where the plot thrives in its humour, it’s let down with broken English and sloppy translation – quality control needed to be a lot stricter.
Gameplay comes in the form of series of five enclosed stages, where Agent Wood has to destroy a set of gateways that act as spawn points for foreign soldiers coming for the pig. These gates will be located at multiple positions on the stage, so there’s tactics in deciding which order to go about tackling them.
Irritatingly, the pig is often off-screen as you head off to find a way to reach the upper levels, and that leaves him totally vulnerable to attack. Killing the enemies can drop power-ups – the freeze one is particularly handy for stopping all enemies on the screen in their tracks, allowing you to focus on the gates. Take the gates out, and the level ends.
But, the next set of stages doesn’t simply open once you complete the last lot. No, you have to return to the levels you’ve already played and check off the same three objectives in each – first, to complete the level without losing any lives; then, to ensure the pig takes no damage whatsoever throughout the course of you completing the level, and then to do all of that in a very strict and unforgiving time limit.
And unforgiving it is, too – given that you’ll need to be firing your weapon constantly in order to have any chance of success. Enemies are quite prone to getting in the way of their spawn points, and if you miss just one enemy as they make their way to the pig, you’ll have to abort your offensive assault in order to ensure that the pig comes to no harm.
That you have to return to play through previously-completed levels so soon at the beginning of the game is a major flaw. In fact, just achieving all the objectives proved so difficult that it generated a heavy urge to simply put the game down and play something else. Returning once you’ve finished playing through the story is one thing, but locking the story behind this sort of progression mechanic was pretty mean and counterproductive.
The game’s handling is pretty solid – your inputs are simply to jump and to shoot, and occasionally to set off a bomb to wipe out everything on screen. The game looks and sounds crystal clear, but it’s the level design, and key things going off the edge of the screen, which is often an issue. As such, there’s always the gloomy feeling that something is missing; it’s one of those games which has nice ideas but needs a lot of work on the polishing front. They’ve made a right pig’s ear of this one.
Operation Pig £8.99
Operation Pig is too rough around the edges to be much cop. It’s too difficult to get to see the game’s plot, and there’s too many translation mishaps to stay invested in it anyway.