Don’t Squeal, Piggy: When Pigs Fly

By Alec Meer on August 3rd, 2009 at 10:02 pm.

that animal is a dog. Fact.

Anna Anthropy aka Auntie Pixelante aka dessgeega does, I suspect, enjoy confounding expectations. You don’t get many developers who follow up S&M-themed platformers with a Thrust tribute (of a very loose sort) starring a hyper-cute, angel-winged pig, after all. While Mighty Jill Off was a wry, subversive examination of why videogame protagonists put themselves through a torturous amount of struggle to reach their objectives, When Pigs Fly is simply about learning to fly. Though the grating, tragic squeals of the pig upon both flight and death do make for something of a sadistic endurance test…

It’s a tricky affair – the slightest brush against the scenery costing piggie his gossamer wings and throwing him back to the start of whichever tunnel’n'spike’n'lava-filled room you’re currently in. Again – it’s about learning to fly, and the precision, spatial and velocity awareness that involves. Pigboy can’t walk, but can only drift left or right through the air once he’s aloft, which is achieved by a tap upon the spacebar. The longer you hold it down, the higher and faster he goes – and it’s that you have to master. The challenge is escalated by the rooms’ growing complexity, requiring you to stay aloft for longer stretches or make split-second height adjustments, mercifully interspersed with the occasional gimme stage.

Come the end, you’re rated in terms of how many accidents you caused the poor porcine to suffer. Whether you feel triumphant, annoyed or horribly guilty very much depends on you.

It’s hard, it really is. Someone will say below that it’s not and that the rest of us are a bunch of wimps, but it’s hard. Sometimes to the point of frustration, frankly, which is perhaps a little surprising given Anthropy’s extensive analysis of platformer design in the past, but then by sticking it on Newgrounds I guess she’s talking to a wider audience than with her previous fare, and one that often enjoys bragging about mastering tricky webgames (and about the digi-medals that come with that). It’s a charming and compelling extrapolation of single mechanic, however, and as such well worth honing your space bar skills with.

Play When Pigs Fly here. Oh, one very important thing: S turns off the squeals. You’re going to wanna press that bad boy button pretty sharpish. Lovely music, though.

__________________

« | »

, , .

58 Comments »

  1. MaxFrost says:

    10.14 minutes, 114 deaths. Agh

    neat game though

  2. faelnor says:

    Clearly people who will find this frustrating have never played Doukutsu Monogatari to its real ending. I feel a little inspiration there by the way, both in the cute pixel graphics and in the music.

  3. Helm says:

    Yes it’s not that hard!

    (I’m sorry)

  4. Andthensobecause says:

    This was satisfyingly hard, but never stupid/impossible, which was nice. Definitely the Portal of Pig flight simulators.

    Small tip for all you space bar haters: ‘z’ can also be used to flap your wings.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    Aesthetically lovely. Tremendously compelling, though I’m not sure I was really having fun at any given point. Effectively designed – does a lot with very little, in terms of interactive elements. Surprisingly lengthy. Enjoyed both the ending and the knowledge that I was at the end of the game (that I wouldn’t have to play it anymore).

    All in all, remarkably similar to JOJ. In a good way, I think.

    11.51 with 120 accidents, for anyone who wants to feel good about themselves.

  6. BooleanBob says:

    And when I say JOJ, I of course mean Mighty Jill Off. Jack Off Jill is something different, something extant, but I’m not sure what. No great loss.

  7. David says:

    Ok, I give up. After ~50 fails on the same screen, there’s not a lot more I can take. Still, great fun.

  8. Sam says:

    Hard enough to be fun, not hard enough to be annoying. There were a couple screens I took a while on, but I was able to get past most of them in 3-4 tries.

  9. orta says:

    I got about the same as Boolean Bob. I however did have fun, I liked the sounds especially. Kinda reminded me of a flash game where you’re a bubble. That was well hard.

  10. Cuchulainn says:

    Nope, not fun at all. Why are instadeath mechanics berated when it’s a publisher like ea or ubisoft doing them but forgivable on a webgame? Nice idea, funky sound, but a pain in th arse to actually control.

  11. Theoban says:

    I quite like this, I’m usually not a fan of quite hard level design, but this always made it just that little bit harder than the previous screen, always let you know exactly what you had to do. It was hard, but it was incremented in just the right way, no difficulty spikes, a nice smooth curve.

    11 minutes and 103 deaths. And I screamed ‘shit’ at my screen more than once.

  12. Senethro says:

    22:15 – 257 accidents. I spent 10 mins on the last screen with the hairpin covered in spikes.

  13. El Stevo says:

    Relatively enjoyable mechanic. Instadeath makes it frustrating and not fun. One thumb down from me.

  14. Svengali says:

    ‘s a lotta bacon

  15. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Polished it off in 34.31 minutes, with 349 ‘accidents’. Clearly I’m three times more rubbish than everyone else.

    And in the game.

  16. Ergates says:

    Very ropey colision detection. Which in this type of game – requiring moving close to deadly spikes – is just frustrating. It may look almost like an 8 bit game, but there is no reason it has to be coded like one.

  17. richmcc says:

    Squeals need to be left on, they’re absolutely the best bit. SItting here pissing myself at the “WREEK!”

  18. DarkNoghri says:

    21.46 with 197.

    @Senethro
    Did you book it through everything? You have 60 more deaths than me, but only 30 more seconds.

    @Puffins
    Psshaawww, only one and a half times more rubbish.

  19. DarkNoghri says:

    Also, spent a lot of time on that last spiked S curve as well. The first time I made it through that middle bit, I made it out.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    Auntie Pixelante really liked Bomb Jack, doesn’t she?

    KG

  21. DarkNoghri says:

    Also also, game is much easier backwards. 12.21 with 90.

  22. Kieron Gillen says:

    33.49 minutes and 303 accidents.

    I was about to throw in about 3 screens before the end, before I thought “lets’ try with the Z button”. And immediately I walk through the remainder with nary a death. Is Space just shitty – larger button? – or is it my keyboard?

    KG

  23. richmcc says:

    43.50 minutes, and 624 accidents. I was meant to be asleep half an hour ago, but those squeals were gut-wrenching.

  24. Noc says:

    I got stuck for a long time on the last screen (before the open corridors to the end.)

    I nearly gave up then, as I did several points before. What kept me going, though, was the sense that the game was actually leading somewhere; that I was making progress, and that there was an end in sight. I’m usually prone to giving up on games when they get tough, because they’re just going to keep getting tougher and tougher anyways until my progress grinds to a halt, because that’s how games with a steep difficulty curve tend to work.

    With this, though . . . about two thirds of the way though, I think grass starts showing up. I was green, and cheerful, and waving in the breeze, and I tentatively landed my pig on it, sure that it was some new gimmick to kill me in some new, frustrating way, with carnivorous grassy tentacles or something.

    But there were no carnivorous tentacles! It was just grass. And it was pretty, and I pushed on, because there were starting to be holes in the walls and I could see outside and knew I was near the end.

  25. Heliocentric says:

    well… I used Xpadder+360pad when i started to suffer from keyboard claw and the game suddenly became much more comfortable to play.

    the flight physics are horrible though.

  26. Heliocentric says:

    11 and change minutes and 125 deaths btw

  27. Persus-9 says:

    26.53 and 243 but in my defence the spacebar of my Logitech G11 is absolute rubbish and I didn’t know about the z key. I miss my old Saitek Eclipse.

    I quite liked it but I’ve pretty much no urge to return and do the time attack or reverse modes. I couldn’t stand the squealing but you can turn that off with the s key.

  28. Colthor says:

    23:48 and 280 accidents.

    Didn’t find it frustrating though, funnily enough.

  29. El Stevo says:

    Kieron:

    It’s not just you. I think the space button is a bad button for platform games in general.

  30. bobince says:

    It’s hard? Am I missing something? I’m typically rubbash at this kind of thing, and ended up with 45 accidents at 6 mins without particularly trying. I’d've gone crazy if I’d had to play it for over 20m!

    [tip: only the sideways collisions kill you, you can happily bounce against the ceiling as well as hit the floor]

  31. MD says:

    Wonderful game. This is exactly the kind of thing I appreciate being linked to.

    For the record, I enjoyed the sounds — squeals and all! The difficulty (and length, for that matter) was just right for me, too. Satisfying, but not frustrating. Well, not frustrating beyond the good kind of frustration, where you know the game is fair and non-sadistic, but you’re just not quite doing it right — yet. The controls are lovely and tight without feeling artificially easy.

    I suspect a fair bit of artistry went into this, both in terms of aesthetics and self-expression. The fact that it is wrapped up in solid, fun gameplay (and yes I know people hate that word but get stuffed, there’s nothing wrong with it — I’m talking about the mechanics (controls, physics, rules-of-the-world) and the way they interact with the levels) and is about as far as possible from being some wanky ‘look at me I’m an ART GAME’ game makes that side of it easy to ignore, apart from appreciating the lovely visuals. But I reckon if you pay attention there are a few relatively simple, but elegantly expressed ideas in there.

  32. MD says:

    (Oh and @bobince, for me it was easier than the RPS guys made it out to be, but 6:00 and 45 seems like a surprisingly good effort for someone ‘rubbish’. It took me 12:21 and 127, and I thought I was a fair representation of the fairly-bad-but-not-a-games-journalist demographic.)

  33. EGTF says:

    And so the backstory into how swine flu became airborne is uncovered.

  34. Hyudra says:

    I believe you can turn off the squeals with ‘s’.

    Worth knowing.

  35. MD says:

    Also worth READING THE FLIPPING ARTICLE. Take that, it’s a little thing I like to call ‘snark’! Someday it might catch on in this crazy tube-land.

  36. Bret says:

    I finished in 27 minutes 59 seconds with 343 accidents.

    Not good, but faster than Kieron, at least.

    Frustrating repeatedly, but it was eventually doable.

  37. Persus-9 says:

    @ KG & El Stevo: It does depend on the keyboard. I found the spacebar was as good as any other key on my old Saitek Eclipse and the shorter key travel on my laptop makes the spacebar on there okayish, better than my G11 at least in spite of the fact the keyboard is in general pretty rubbish.

  38. PleasingFungus says:

    12:51 and 143 accidents. Really liked the sense of progress as the game went on – felt like I was getting somewhere, helped me press on.

    Also, midway through, I became convinced that the level design had reversed itself and I was passing through upside-down versions of all the levels I’d already beaten. I even began spotting specific examples.

    But that’s just me being insane, probably.

  39. Hyudra says:

    That was added recently, MD.

    Doing a backwards run, finding it pretty challenging.

  40. MD says:

    mmm, pretty sure I read it there well before you wrote your comment :p

    Not sure why I bothered in the first place though — even with the attempt at friendly irony* it was a rather pointless comment. My bad.

    *Not guaranteed to be correct usage of the word ‘irony’

  41. That Guy says:

    Auntie Pixelante actually made one other indie game before this about lesbian cowgirls.

  42. Robin says:

    26.04* / 226 accidents

    *including the time to write this:

    At least 98% of my deaths were caused by Flash frame-rate glitches. I have never seen a game concept so ill-suited to the unreliable performance of Flash.

    If it was guaranteed to update the screen and read keyboard inputs for every frame (i.e. running natively), it would be a lot more fun.

    Aesthetically the game is not great. I dislike games that use a “pixel art” style to make them wilfully ugly. Many old games that were limited to low resolutions had beautiful art that managed to disguise its blockiness and cram in loads of detail through the use of perceptual trickery.

    Swooping through multiple screens without taking a hit is super-satisfying though. The difficulty curve (and dips) are well judged too.

  43. Gnarl says:

    1:43:41, 1483. Never give up, never surrender.

    I think it was a tad hard. My main problem was controlling with arrow keys, I think. Fun in places, though.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    Flash games should all be non time reliant on the back end, and thus slow down on slower systems. Many are indeed. Makes them laughably easy though.

  45. Hypocee says:

    Oh, you can ride the ceiling? I’ll give it another shot, then. Shows you how used I am to cave-flight games that I always avoided touching overhead. I said ‘bugger this’ and gave up at the ‘low ceiling over lava’ bit.

    In general there seems to be something a bit wrong with the thrust mechanic. It’s not one tap/one pop like Joust or a high-rate stream like Desert Combat choppers, but seems to fall in the middle with a flap, a delay, then a stream. Awkward for fine altitude control.

  46. Kenttsu says:

    8.43/67

    Suprisingly good, I guess.

  47. pillxthrills says:

    I would just like to say, this game has given me a fear of stalactites and stalagmites… apparently, if you move even a few feet to the side of them, their inherent magic kills you.

  48. LionsPhil says:

    What would make this would be some 2D physics for proper mangled-wing tumbling. Into lava. Mmm, bacon.

    Also if a Dual Core machine of the future didn’t have little micro-freezes while trying to run a game technologically from the 16-bit era. Thanks, progress.

    21:43 / 207

    Yes, by the point of that bloody Z of spikes, I was ramming the little bugger into them on purpose. Must have lost over a hundred there. Kill.

  49. LionsPhil says:

    @Hypocee: Not realistically. If you knock the ceiling, you are fired downward, as if it were constructed out of pinball machine bumpers. And this is ignoring the tendency for later levels to have ceilings made out of incredi-spikes that gore you at the slightest glance.

    At least it doesn’t have a finite lives system.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>