Ammo Pigs

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As soon as it begins, Ammo Pigs is a great game that feels like it’ll become a truly incredible one at any minute. Unfortunately, it ends before it can reach that peak. But despite its untapped potential, what’s here is still a fantastic and fun retro action game.

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Players control an armed swine trying to rescue little baby pigs and escape a robotic butcher’s lairs. A pig with a gun is already a superb visual, and the excellent pixelated art style gives the game enough personality to stand with the mascot platformers of old. What it also shares with those classics is a tight, nearly flawless control scheme. Players can jump, shoot in different directions, and even climb up walls using the game’s Contra-meets-Mega Man X moveset and it’s all incredibly precise. The game is rarely hard enough to require that level of precision but the controls make the act of playing extremely enjoyable.

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The problem is that these high-quality controls and visuals could be used for so much more than what Ammo Pigs ultimately is. The game makes a killer first impression. The starting level is a fairly dense and nonlinear labyrinth where players not only have to kill enemies but also navigate their way out of the maze. Limited ammo puts an emphasis on tactical encounters, and scattered switches adds a smart layer of Metroid-style backtracking. However, when the next handful of levels are basically just remixes of each other (altered layouts with the same tricks featuring nearly identical art), the charm wears off a little bit. Later levels are slightly more varied, but by the time the game starts opening up it’s almost over. It’s weird that a game with only a dozen short levels still feels kind of padded.

But just because Ammo Pigs isn’t quite as great as it could have been doesn’t mean it isn’t still great. The controls and graphics alone put it way above most competitors, and the gameplay, while stretched thin, always retains an intensely entertaining core. Besides, is there anything more American than pork and firearms?

 

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