Cartoonish pigs just can't catch a break. 'Borrowing' a few eggs is enough to draw avian suicide attacks and now it seems they can't even pop out for a quick pint without a horde of dwarves throwing rocks at them.
Such is the plot of Greedy Pigs. At first glance a run of the mill Tower Defence game but at second glance actually only a *fairly* run of the mill Tower Defence game that has enough interesting extras and pleasing presentation to warrant a closer look.
As with all Tower Defence-style games, you have to defend a base -- in this case a barrel of booze -- from wave after increasingly tough wave of attackers, represented here by various pigs and other woodland creatures who would love nothing more than to sup that sweet, sweet booze.
To fight off the porcine pissheads you can buy dwarven mercenaries and place them at strategic points along the path to the booze barrel. Three basic types of dwarf are available: Warrior (a straightforward rock-chucker who will hit anything in range), Hunter (a more precise sniper who can only shoot vertically or horizontally) and Magician (powerful energy attacks).
Each unit costs an amount of gold and must be placed at a strategic point along the path that the attackers will helpfully walk along. A dwarf will unleash its signature attack at any enemy that wanders within range, but each dwarf can shoot only at a fixed rate, so careful placement is essential to make sure no attackers get through. The ultimate aim is to stop the barrel of booze from taking more than 200 hit points of damage. If a critter makes it to the barrel it will deal some damage but you can make repairs at the cost of a few coins.
So far, so ordinary. Where Greedy Pigs scores is in allowing you to upgrade your dwarves in a variety of ways. You can shell out your hard-earned gold (gained per kill as well as dropped by certain enemies) to buy upgrades or you can wait for a dwarf to level up, which it will do after a bit of battle-hardening.
Certain enemies drop cash or powerups and some -- like the Terry Pratchett-ish Walking Treasure Chests -- drop more than one, making them a tempting target that might end up drawing your fire at the expense of other baddies. Dwarves can be moved, although they must have a clear path to walk along, making initial placement all the more important.
Each type of dwarf can be levelled up to boost their skills and you can upgrade them to 'Master' and 'Hero' too, adding more abilities as well as turning them into slightly more impressive-looking characters. These RPGish elements add an extra layer of strategy to proceedings and help take Greedy Pigs up a notch compared to the many, many similar games on the Android Market. The presentation is colourful and cute and there are lots of nice details like the heroic phrases your dwarves will bellow when selected.
If we have one major criticism, it is that the game is a bit easy. Even on Advanced difficulty the story mode can be whizzed though quite quickly once you get the hang of the various units and their quirks. There is a survival mode which will let you fight against ever-worsening odds, but the fun will only spread so thinly before things get too samey to carry on.
Greedy Pigs costs 86p on the Android Marketplace and is available now. [Android]