Activision is famous for the quality of their VCS titles, but this game is just awful.
Oink! has been described as “breakout in reverse” because instead of removing blocks, you are replacing them. You play as each one of the Three Little Pigs, protecting your house against the invading wolf. The wolf blows your house down one segment at a time, and you have to replace these segments by walking to the other side of your house and grabbing them one at a time. Three rows of these segments make up the wall of your house. When the wolf successfully penetrates through all three rows, his breath suddenly turns into a tractor beam which he uses to suck you out of the house, if the hole is big enough to accommodate the pig’s body.
The idea of the game is that you strategically place the replacement segments in such a way that you can never actually be sucked out of the house. The problem is that the wolf is removing segments at a much faster rate than you can possibly hope to replace them, giving the game a feeling of futility as you are only delaying the inevitable. Once the first piggy is captured, you move from the straw house to the stick house where the second piggy awaits his doom.
The gameplay is boring, but it is the hopelessness of only delaying your demise that really sucks the fun out of the game. Part of the lure of arcade-style games is the knowledge that if you had just done something differently; moved right instead of left, shot this guy instead of that guy, that you could have kept going. With Oink!, you’re just swimming against the tide knowing that there is little that you can do, and indeed the whole point of the game is to try and accumulate as many points as possible before the wolf gets you. But there is no way to stop the wolf, and that’s the game’s downfall.
As with most Activision games, Oink!’s graphics are second to none, but when a game is this bad it doesn’t really matter.