Pig Eat Ball

pig-eat-ball-gameplay-screenshot-1There will be one big challenge in this write up of Pig Eat Ball. Can words adequately convey what the game is? Or will the the images in this article better explain what the game is all about? So, here we go.

Let’s begin with story. That’s as good a place as any to start. Players take control of a space pig named Bow. Her father is the king of the space station that she lives on and feels Bow is at the age where she aught to marry. With that he has begun a competition for the eligible bachelors of the space station. Whoever wins will get to marry Bow. Of course, Bow is none too pleased about this. So, she decides to enter the contest herself in disguise. Her hope is that if she wins she’ll be able to get out of her situation.

With that, players embark on a journey through the various sectors of the space station. Here they’ll find the different stages scattered about, easily identifiable by large space clams. Bow must complete the challenges that they set out for her. When she successfully does this, they will give her a pearl.

pig-eat-ball-gameplay-screenshot-2Many of the tasks given to Bow will involve collecting tennis balls. She gathers these by wandering around, sucking them up, and storing them in her belly. The difficulty here is that these make her fat. She’s already quite plump, but after gobbling up a few of these balls, she’ll become too big to get through narrow passages. If players want to slim her down to get through, they’ll need to make use of the barf button.

Yes, there’s a barf button. It’s actually extremely important. Using it will cause Bow to vomit up whatever tennis balls she has consumed, blasting them out in a spray of green slime. It makes a huge mess, but that’s just the way things go. Once she’s walked through the narrow area, she can suck up the balls again. However, it’s better to wait a few seconds for the vomit to drip off of them. If players rush and wind up making Bow consume three vomit-drenched balls, she’ll feel sick and throw up again. So, patience is key here.

Throwing up isn’t just useful for getting through tight spots. It’s also a weapon. The stages often have enemies that want to do harm to Bow. These aren’t exactly the safest places in the world. Luckily, she can barf on them. This will usually hold them in place or slow them down for a while as they are covered in goopy green bile. So, as one can see, vomit is a multi-purpose tool on Bow’s path to victory.

pig-eat-ball-gameplay-screenshot-4Stages feel like something right out of an 80s or 90s arcade game in terms of layout. There will be all sorts of obstacles in the way of Bow and the tennis balls that she needs to collect. There are the aforementioned narrow spots. There’s enemies lurking about. There are one-way paths. There are spiky things that you don’t want to come into contact with. The game also has a number of areas where Bow can use her suction to attract a ball, but needs to lead it through a puzzle-like labyrinth in order to actually get to it. Some stages go for something completely different too. For instance, there’s a sandwich making level. Another is themed around bowling. There are also boss stages with giant, over-the-top enemies to defeat. These things are even more over-the-top than whatever players have experienced up to that point. That’s really saying something.

The game also makes references to several classic arcade games with its level design. Players will likely spot the obvious ones right away like Pac Man and Q-Bert. Others may take a little while to recognize depending on how knowledgeable one is about these games.

Stages also award players on how well they are completed. As such, there is plenty of motivation to replay them and trying to get a first place gold medal in every challenge. Each stage has clever, efficient ways to complete them. It’s actually quite satisfying figuring these out.

If players tire of playing the stages already present in Pig Eat Ball, there’s even a level editor. With that people can create their own stages, or just play levels created by the community. This opens the door to a bottomless pit of stages to keep people busy.

The game even supports a party mode for four-player local multiplayer. With that, the door is open to rigorous vomiting with friends. In a virtual setting anyway. The logistics for real life group vomiting would probably be a nightmare.

pig-eat-ball-gameplay-screenshot-4Pig Eat Ball‘s aesthetic really helps to cement the zaniness of the game. This is seen first and foremost in the character design. Right from the opening scene, players are introduced to Bow’s father. He has a cake for a head and a personality not all that dissimilar to the King of All Cosmos. It certainly sets the tone for the game. Players are later introduced to the king’s guards. These guys also have cakes for heads. There are the peculiar-looking clams, too. It would also seem that there are a number of mischievous pill bugs with a penchant for tennis milling around the station. On top of this, the color scheme and level of detail in the visuals helps everything really pop off the screen. It’s very similar to the bright colors so common in classic arcade games.

Meanwhile, the game’s soundtrack is lighthearted and upbeat. It has a lot of memorable tunes and they’re easy to get stuck in one’s head. They all do a lot to bring that arcade game feel to the forefront.

It can be very hard to make a video game that is meant to come off as weird and over the top, but also not seem contrived. Pig Eat Ball does this very well. It’s visual style and characters are endearing, while gameplay is entertaining, silly, requires some thought, and is just an overall good time. People looking for something well off the beaten path would do well to try this game out. It’s easily one of the most unusual, yet enjoyable titles to come along in a very long time.

Pig Eat Ball is currently available for Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam and Itch.io, as well as  PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.