One of these days, the market for slingshot/puzzle/physics games is going to reach complete and total saturation, and even the angriest of birds won’t be able to turn any heads. Until that day comes, we will continue to see derivatives such as Saving Private Sheep 2, but as long as they continue to offer some unique takes on the idea as this one does, then maybe– just maybe– things will be all right for a little bit longer.
As you might have guessed from the “2” in the title, this game is a sequel to another game, 2010’s Saving Private Sheep, which we awarded a 4. However, this sequel is quite different, enough so that it could easily have been marketed as another game entirely with a few tweaks. In fact, the very name of the game feels like a misnomer, insofar as the sheep you’re saving this time don’t appear to be part of the flock’s army. Rather, you take on more direct control of a number of militarized sheep as you set out to rescue those captured– not by wolves this time, but by foxes.
Time to brush up on your physics.
The gameplay is mixed up a bit from the first as well. Instead of moving sheep or their enemies around the environment by touching them with your finger, you control a number of sheep spread throughout the stages, using them and their catapults to fling a curled-up hedgehog around obstacles and get a clear shot at each level’s fox, who has already swallowed your wooly associate. Smacking a fox with a hedgehog is enough to get him to regurgitate the drool-drenched sheep and knock the villain from the stage, but hitting him is easier said than done. Foxes will sometimes employ armor which must be compensated for with rebound shots or power-ups.
The stages can be large and fairly complex, making use of any number of sheep, as well as moving platforms, tubes, thorns, fans, chili peppers, and other obstacles, items, and power-ups. In a way, moving the hedgehog around reminds us of their “cousin” Sonic’s games, except instead of controlling the hedgehog, you’re instead controlling part of the network of devices which speed him along his way.
It’s involved and engaging, but not without its downsides. For one, though you’re given a brief pan of the stage at the start of each level, you can’t really get a good look at the whole level, or even move the camera around to see where to go without readying a shot. As a result, collecting the coins and gold stars placed throughout the level for achieving a higher score can be difficult to plan.
Build it better.
Another issue we had was in lining up our shots; a dotted arc appears when you pull back on the catapult, showing where the rolled-up hedgehog should go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always follow the course plotted for it, which can ultimately waste some of your limited number of shots (though sometimes, thankfully, the hedgehog might roll just close enough to a sheep that it gets picked back up). Top these issues off with a timer counting down (and time-limited power-ups needed to beat the level), and the game can sometimes be a little trickier than the developers might have intended.
The original Saving Private Sheep boasted over 80 levels, but the sequel falls short of that mark with only 66. Fortunately, they did compensate for this by including a level editor– the same one used by the game’s creators, according to the pitch sheet. You can also share and download levels created by others, as well as receive feedback on your own, but that’s only if you go in on their “Premium” option.
Despite its shortcomings, Saving Private Sheep 2 is still a pretty solid game, all said. If you’re sick of games where you fling objects and animals to hit other objects and animals, you might be inclined to give this one a pass. Otherwise, it manages to fit in well as a slightly more unique offering among other games of its type, and should satisfy the diehard fans of the genre.