So listen up kiddies and gather round, let me tell you a little story. It's a tale of little pigs and of big, bad wolves. For as long as anyone can remember, the pigs have been defending themselves from their lupine enemies. They built houses of straw and houses of sticks in which to hide, but the wolves just huffed and puffed and blown them away. There were some early successes with brick houses, but being eaten the second you step outside is an obvious drawback. The piggies tried many solutions, with very little success, and many a nights the air was thick with the scent of cooking bacon, as the wolves enjoyed their feast.
That was until he came along. The hero of the tale: Our little piggy.
And he decided to do something different.
He decided to fight back!
Now, this won't be a long review. This isn't a complex, deep game that requires hours of tutorials or studying reams of text to come to grips with it. In fact, you could watch a 30-second gameplay video and you'd probably understand the whole concept rather well. You'll take control of the aforementioned little pig on his quest to fight back against the wolf pack. The gameplay is from the "simple to understand but difficult to master" school of game design. Your little piggy will stand on screen, dead center and you can jump and duck, but not move left or right. Instead, pushing that direction will launch an attack, a punch or kick that can be strung together into a simple combo. Every move is controlled with the left stick, or D-pad, and is so simple that everything can be pulled off with one hand. The basic attacks you have at your disposal can be combined with jumping and ducking, allowing you to do midair attacks, jumping split kicks, duck under thrown weapons and enabling you to take on anything, and everything, the wolf pack throws at you. And they will throw loads, both literally and figuratively!
Wolves will appear from both sides of the screen and head towards you, traveling at different speeds and in different ways. They wear a wide range of costumes, themed to the level and all have different abilities and attacks. Wolves dressed as Little Red Riding Hood will throw picnic baskets, police wolves have their truncheons, pirate wolves will wield their cutlasses, and others will throw knives or carry shields. Some will pogo around on spears or even ride rockets Wile E. Coyote style! If you get you touched by any wolf or any of their wide range of weapons, you'll lose health, eventually dying and getting a game over. However, the items aren't only used against you; they can also be taken from your enemy and used as weapons. Killing a knife wielder, for instance, will send the blade spinning into the air, where a well-timed button press will allow you to take it for yourself; it'll even be highlighted by a cursor, making it really stand out. Any object or weapon can be used like this and even the rocket wolves can be downed with a well-timed flying kick, sending the rocket off on a random trajectory, hopefully taking some baddies out in the process! Combat actually works well, for what it is, and each attack provides enough feedback to feel satisfying. The bright and simple cartoon style lets the action stand out and even when loads of stuff is happening on screen, it's easy to keep track of what's going on. Enemy layouts are random, making it a skill-based affair rather than a memory game and when everything starts to flow, the combat is actually quite cool to watch and feels great to pull off.
That feeling doesn't last long though, because that's all there really is to the gameplay. There are a few different extra modes to play, including a sudden death mode where one hit will kill you; a 1vs100 mode where you are timed to see how fast you kill a 100 enemies; and a 2 player "Wolf Ball" minigame where players hit a ball back and forth trying to score points on one another, but all are minor variations on the same thing. There are skins for your pig, and some different backgrounds to unlock by completing challenges, like kill X amount of wolves in a location or land Y amount of punches, etcetera. These provide a different theme for the enemies, and a new location to fight in but, apart from some minor variations in enemy types and behavior, are really only cosmetic and do nothing to change up the gameplay. There is a stack of easy achievements though, 15 for a total 1000 gamerscore. There are loads of guides online to get them relatively quickly, so achievement hunters take note.
Ultimately, this isn't the type of game you'll play for hours and have a deep, narrative, emotional experience with. It's best played as a few matches here and there or, where I had the most fun, by taking turns with a friend, couch co-op style. Passing the controller back and forth and trying to beat one another's high score was a lot more fun than competing against myself. I can't see me jumping into Iron Snout very often when alone, but after a few beers and with a few friends or family over? It could be a fun little diversion, just don't expect much more than that. It's a simple game that does what it does well, it just doesn't do that much. At essence, it's a cheap and cheerful button masher that is fun for a few occasional matches every now and again.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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