Requirements: Mac OS X, Internet connection. Universal.
Trial: Feature-limited (you only get one life)
SpacePig got my attention because of its silly premise. You’re a pig, on the moon, collecting coins and diamonds. You’re the only pig on the moon, I might add; there aren’t any others. If this were an Atari 2600 game, I’d reach straight for the manual to learn the pig’s name and why he has left his home to risk his life pursuing lunar riches. But since it’s a Macintosh game, all I could do is reach for my keyboard and start playing.
As it turns out, the moon is pretty small. You’ll run around it many, many times, in all different directions, gathering wealth and avoiding—because they can kill you—meteroids and green spikey things that remind me a bit of conkers. Often the wealth is over your head, but you can jump—very high and very far, thanks to your rocket-pack and the moon’s low gravity—to reach them.
I suppose all of this sounds easy, but it’s not. It can be difficult to tell when something is directly overhead. Even when leaping for diamonds, which are stationary, I often miss and need a second or third try. As for coins, which fly through the sky…catching one is more luck than skill. It doesn’t help that while you’re in the air you can’t change direction, only look around.
But honestly, I find SpacePig amusing. Lots of motion on the computer screen tends to make me woozy, it’s just the way I am: but I’ll play as long as I can. The graphics are simple, old-fashioned maybe, kind of charming or nostalgic. And the music, streamed from baKno, is great, somehow fitting perfectly with floating slowly around the moon. Stop playing and listen. The pig sits down, and the moon spins and spins until I am so dizzy I have to stand up and keep playing.
Like all pigs, it’s inevitable that you will die, cold and alone on the moon. Four times you will die, and then it’s really over. The reward for your efforts is fame: high scores are posted online. As of this writing, I’m number six.
My two biggest complaints about SpacePig have nothing to do with gameplay. The first problem, in fact, is common to many games I’ve played: if you play in full-screen mode, the icons on your desktop are out of place when you quit. To me, that needlessly sours the gaming experience. SpacePig, at least, opens in a window by default: but beware of the mess if you decide to play full-screen.
My second complaint only affects those who pay to register the game. You can’t paste your serial number into the window to register; you must type out the long string of hyphenated gibberish. You also must be connected to the Internet in order to enter your serial number. It’s annoying, since there’s no reason why a program shouldn’t be able to validate a serial number without phoning home. But it gets worse: if, having successfully entered your serial number, you want to play again later without an Internet connection (say, on the plane), the game thinks you’re not registered. This takes anti-piracy measures to such an extreme that they interfere with the use of the game by people who actually paid for it.
SpacePig isn’t modern or complicated, and it doesn’t require much thought. Sometimes, however, that can be a good thing. If you’re looking for a somewhat silly arcade-style game that’s relaxing rather than frantic, and you have a persistent Internet connection (Big baKno is watching you!), give SpacePig a try.