Title: Piglet's Dreams
Genre: "Spot the difference"
Author(s): Konstantin Timofeev (?)
Price: Free. Browser-based.
A night or two ago when I was at work listening to Podtoid (I'd hardly call what I do 'work', but a job's a job), I got the idea in my head to become a game reviewer or a game critic and I knew two things about breaking into game journalism:
1. Write something before you ask for a job
2. Don't review popular games. That's what editors do (elitist bastards).
So, with that in mind and no money in my pocket I came to the conclusion that I should review free flash games from Newgrounds and post the results here on my favorite game journalism site, Destructoid. Since Newgrounds was blocked at the site I was working at and I was pulling two twelve-hour overnight shifts, only now am I able to review Piglet's Dreams, a game that totally wasn't the first thing I saw in Newground's flash portal.
Dreams's credits lists someone named Konstantin Timofeev for 'Game Idea', which, knowing what type of game this is, means that having the idea was most likely his only contribution. You see, Piglet's Dreams is a very basic "Spot the Difference" game. For those not in the know (or if you never attended elementary school), in these types of games the player is presented with two almost identical pictures. Then you have to click on whatever is different from the opposing photo.
sometimes I really hate the letter 'Z'
This concept is one that has been around for a long time and can be easily applied to non-video games. What makes Piglet's Dreams stand out from the decades-old formula is the timer. The timer works exactly like you think it would. Spot all the difference before the timer wears out and you get the privilege to continue on to the next set of images. What I found interesting, though, is that every time you click on something that isn't a difference the time moves down an extra bit faster for about an instant. Does this make the game more intense? Unfortunately, no. I found out that the only penalty attached to having the timer run out is not being able to use the 'hint' button anymore, which hardly gets used anyways because all you do IS LOOK AT THE SCREEN.
The game's art style is surprisingly good, though. It has a very 'adobe flash' cardboard-cutout look to it that is seen very often elsewhere, but has enough of it's own style to stand out. It sticks to a basic color palette and style and it's better for it.
you know exactly what to do right now, as if by instinct
The music is also quite nice, composed by Nikolay Statilco. It has a very cartoony yet adventurous vibe to it, and even though it gets repetitive it still fits with the overall theme of "This game is made for goddamn five-year-olds".
Among it's problems are lag issues. With such a simplified art style, I find it hard to believe that my high-speed internet connection and powerful-enough-to-play-Deus Ex: Human Revolution computer would have lag issues, but they are very prevalent in the first level and this just makes it apparent that gamezhero doesn't know how to compress their files. Another problem comes from the mix of gameplay and story. I know this is basically a children's game and therefore doesn't need such close scrutiny, but fuck that, I'm critiquing this game whether it wants it or not.
The story is about a young piglet who dreams of leaving his farm, and that's about it. The story is told with the images presented to the player, but combined with the gameplay, nothing helps to reinforce the urgency of his desire to escape. Were this a "cannon" type game or a platformer, it could probably express this piglet's desire for freedom with a bit more accuracy and depth.
At the end of it all, this is a game meant for children and bored adults. If you have five minutes to kill, all it takes is a copy and pasting of the link above and then you'll be in piggy escapism bliss. If not, it's a pretty mediocre game, even for it's genre. So I wouldn't bother if I had other choices.