For fans of platform gaming, the internet has a rich selection of challenging and well-designed games of this genre to be played their heart’s content, with the variety of styles and distinctive variations on the format being almost too huge to describe. Platform gaming has come a long way since the times of Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, and 300 Miles to Pigsland is a refreshing example of a game whose developer paid close attention to both the quality of the gameplay and also the visual style of the experience as well.
A side-scrolling platform game where movement is automatic and set at a constant pace, 300 Miles to Pigsland sees you take control of a pig that is trying to travel to the magical place known to swine everywhere as Pigsland. The journey is a treacherous one and spans 300 miles which you must cover whilst collecting coins, avoiding obstacles and pitfalls, and generally being quick to react to the ever-changing shape and location of the ground below.
Pigsland seems extremely far away when you first start the game; the distance gauge on the top-right of the screen indicates your current position relative to the entire journey that has to be made. Much like the classic Super Mario platform saga, goal of the main mode is simply to guide your pig over the changing platforms and through a variety of dangers and hazards in order to make it to the end, whereas puzzle mode requires that you complete a series of discrete challenges with a handicap placed on you in the form of restrictions on the upgrades that you are allowed to purchase. In adventure mode, these upgrades are only limited to whether you can afford them or not.
Controls for the game are as basic as they some, and since movement is automatic and at a predefined speed, you simply have to use the Z key or the left mouse button to jump. Post-upgrade, some other skills become available such as double jumping (simply use the Z or left mouse button to jump again after your initial leap) and flying (initiated with the up arrow, descend with the downwards arrow, and cease flying with the Z key/left mouse button). The game may initially seem extremely simple, but as the platforms and the ground beneath you becomes more littered with traps and various animals that are harmful to you, then timing your jumps becomes a crucial factor in surviving the journey.
The upgrades that you can buy allow you to improve your performance and better avoid the dangers of the journey. Beginning as a solitary pig with little skill, you collect money to purchase talents like double jumping, the ability to descend from platforms at any time, a torch to see in cavernous sections, and also the ability to fly for a limited period of time. Furthermore, you can purchase armour which gives you diminishing protection against predators and bear traps that litter the floor, as well as being able to recruit more pigs on your journey which act as extra lives if the leading pig happens to snuff it along the way.
Visually, the game is extremely pleasant to look at and has a delightful cartoonish character as a result of the colourful and wonderfully detailed illustration. The visuals are far superior even to fellow animal platform game Elephant Quest, with far brighter colours and a more distinctive design. The gameplay (including the physics) is also extremely solid, with the puzzles adding an extra set of challenges to keep you busy once the adventure is over. The only negative aspect of the experience is the fact that there are no checkpoints on the extremely long journey which results in a lot of frustration should you die having travelled a long distance, but this can be chalked up to developer VladG simple wanting to make this game an extremely challenging experience. A stark contrast to the puzzling scenarios of fellow swine title Pigs Can Fly, 300 Miles to Pigsland is a refreshing platform experience with style and depth that should be recognised for its greatness.
If you don’t fancy trying to overcome some of the more trickier levels you can play the hacked version instead which has all the levels unlocked from the start allowing you to skip whichever you find near impossible.