The DS has such a huge library of good quality games from every genre, it literally has something for everyone. Every company wants a piece of the DS pie which has seen a surge in odd, wacky and just plain mad games being released on the duel screen wonder. We've already seen digitised versions of our favourite board and card games and now THQ bring us a remake of a classic dice game called Pass the Pigs, but will it bring home the bacon or leave us cleaning the muck from our eyes.
Pass the pigs is based on the old dice game called 'Pig' but with small pig shaped dice replacing the traditional six sided dice. When you first boot up the game you're given several game options including single and multiplayer and a story mode entitled 'World Tour.' In the single player mode you play solo with the aim or racking up as many points as possible, in multiplayer you go head to head with a friend to see who can reach 100 points first and in world tour you play AI controlled opponents in a story mode across various locations of the USA.
The game is simple, you are presented with a flat surface across both screens. Your hand appears on the bottom screen holding 2 pig dice. A charge meter at the top of the screen lets you know the power you've put into your roll and you can use either the stylus or a combination of the face buttons to roll your pigs, once the pigs have finished rolling whatever position they're in will equal a certain amount of points. You can roll a 'Pig out' which will not only give you zero points but will also wipe the points you already have and end your turn, the first to 100 points wins.
The actual control of the game, the 'feel' so to speak is rather hit or miss. Let me explain, to charge the throw you move the hand on the screen by dragging your stylus back and forth over it, once you have hit the right spot on the charge meter you flick your stylus to roll the dice. The charge bar flows from red to green to red again with a small slither of dark green offset centre, I logically equated the closer you got to the green line would equal throws with more points, this doesn't seem to be the case as on several occasions I hit it dead on the green line and threw a Pig Out.
Which made me think about the way I was playing, I switched to playing with the face buttons, 'A' charges up your throw and the directional pad throws the pigs in different directions, I found very quickly that this method of control was much easier as it allowed greater control of both the charge bar and the direction you threw the pigs in which actually made it possible to score highly repeatedly with a little practice.
As you accumulate points you also earn money which can be used to buy throw upgrades, these upgrades help with things like chances of throwing a certain combination of the pigs, I didn't really notice any difference in what I rolled after buying the upgrades so I guess they're not really needed.
The graphics are basic, in world tour mode the table which you play on changes depending on where you play, also the opponents arm will change depending on who the opponent is. The player's hands and the pigs are 3D and look crisp with no signs of texture compression, the character art is nicely drawn but apart from that there's really not that much I can say about the graphics.
The music is upbeat and lively, each level in the world tour mode has its own theme tune which all perfectly fit the theme of your surroundings. Sound effect wise there are plenty of oinks and squeals to keep you amused, the sound effects never become annoying, they all blend seamlessly with the rest of the game.
The game suffers from a good idea not put properly into practice, the stylus controls are broken which is a big let down, more testing at beta would have solved the problem, the music score is good and there is a story mode but the game isn't engaging enough to make you want to sit down and play it for more than an hour or so.