Culture | Japan Pulse

My little pork industry can't be this cute: 'Pig Farm' and 'Slaughterhouse' smartphone games

by Emily Balistrieri

Staff Writer

Is making a game butchering cute little pigs kimo-kawaii or just real talk? JOE Inc.’s “Yōtonjō” (“Pig Farm”) is a pig-raising simulation game with a predictable outcome. After all the vaccinating, poop scooping and keeping track of each porker’s picky eating habits, you send ’em off, and not not on vacation.

“That’s how it works — they’re pigs after all!” The game’s copy reminds us.

Here’s a look inside my pig pen:

The color of the pig-pen floor is different on the right because I applied a sawdust coating to help the pigs grow faster. Where do you think I got that sawdust? I bought it, of course. Did I have enough points right off the bat for that? Of course not! “Pig Farm” is perfect for short bursts (those moments of time between checking your Twitter and Facebook at the bus stop, for example) but if you’re busy and you just want to see what kind of goofy pigs you can raise as fast as possible, or expand your pen faster, the in-game store is more than happy to take your money. Farmers who want to invest can buy points in increments ranging from 2,000 for ¥100 to 200,000 for ¥5,800.

Here are some of the fine specimens I managed to raise so far:

Shooting piglets with a stun gun (or bathing them, for some reason) on daily hunting excursions is a surreal diversion that provides a chance to acquire pigs aside from just buying them. I say surreal because, well, I just can’t imagine pig farmers hunting wild pigs. Also less than realistic is the “Funba” (pun on Roomba with fun that means “poop”) that will clean up the pen for you, but these casual elements keep it cute and fun, vibes that need to be maintained in preparation for that awkward day when . . .

Yes, the pigs speak their final words as they are carted away. From the oblivious, “I’m hungry . . . ” to the bitter, “I knew it,” various pigs have various levels of understanding regarding their predicament. The best way for you to get a better idea of their predicament is to download the sequel to “Pig Farm,” “Slaughterhouse.”

There are no micro-transaction hooks; this game is purely skill based. Less like the classic board game “Operation” than it first appears, swiping the meat (and once, you level up, organs) out of the pig carcass (graphic, but true) is more a matter of knowing what part is being requesting and getting it out within the time limit. At first, the parts are labeled, but as you deconstruct more and more animals, they slowly fade away, leaving you to rely on your growing pig expertise or risk a fierce scolding.

Not only can you kill time (and pigs), but you can learn the various pork parts and how they are commonly prepared:

JOE Inc. released these apps last year, with “Pig Farm” peaking at number one in the App Store’s free ranking on Jan. 11 this year, according to the developer’s official website. Up until these pig games the company had been releasing a mountain of “test” and “diagnosis” style apps that purport to tell how unpopular a girl will be at a gōkon, how hopeless a guy’s marriage prospects are or how much of an otaku someone is. Their latest, however, released Jan. 4, is another casual game called “Picket and Door.” Pickets are fairies that give you keys and the whole experience is just about poking these creatures, collecting keys and opening doors — a friendly change of pace from the abattoir.