|Publisher: Pangea Software Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G3 @ 266 MHz RAM: 128 MB|
I was at the video store on the weekend wanting to watch the movie Caddyshack again, but once I got home I realized I had grabbed Caddyshack II by mistake. Although the movie had its funny parts, I was reminded of the old film industry adage that, except in a few, very rare instances, sequels are rarely as good as the original. Luckily, that adage isnít applicable to Pangea Softwareís latest release, Bugdom 2.
Pangea Software has a long, long, long history of developing games for the Mac. Over the last fifteen years, Brian Greenstone and co. have produced a wide range of fun and engaging family games ranging from go-kart racing games to roller coaster simulators to B-movie takeoffs, with a strong preference for third person 3D adventure games. Back in 1999, the company released the original Bugdom, which went on to become their most successful project to date. The game featured bright and engaging environments, fun and challenging gameplay, and a sense of humor rarely found in computer games.
Although similar in settings to the original release, Bugdom 2 features a new protagonist, new baddies, and new varieties of gameplay, all wrapped in the spit and polish similar to larger-budget AAA titles. The end result is sure to entertain kids young and old for hours on end.
GameplayBugdom 2 puts players in control of Skip, a young grasshopper who has the misfortune of having his satchel stolen by a Bully Bee. Skipís quest to retrieve his worldly goods sees him running, jumping, flying, and swimming through numerous engaging and colorful levels, all the while dodging enemies and collecting four-leaf clovers as he fulfills the numerous tasks assigned to him by his friend Sam the Snail. Progress through the game is tracked by a series of checkpoints planted by Skipís other animal friend, Sally the Chipmunk, who also occasionally dispenses level maps in exchange for acorns.
Not all the creatures in Skipís world are friendly however Ė multiple enemies ranging from leather jacket-clad flies, bottle cap-tossing fleas, plastic green army men, and even oversized lawn gnomes try their darndest to impede Skipís progress. Even Otto the Robot, from Pangeaís previous release, OttoMatic, makes a cameo appearance as a giant laser gun-toting antagonist. Skip doesnít have many tools at his disposal for his defense, but luckily repeated blows from his patented right leg kick can get him out of most sticky situations.
The premise of the game is simple Ė progress through the game is accomplished by exploring the 3D environments and accomplishing the multiple tasks dictated by Sam the Snail. Tasks range from simple collecting of items and releasing mice from various mousetraps to catching fish and blowing up anthills from the air. Gameplay varies greatly throughout the game Ė apart from the usual run, grab, and kick the baddies, players get to maneuver Skip through a field of firecrackers while balancing on a baseball, race through a bedroom on top of radio controlled cars, and surf down leaf- and pinecone-littered gutters. Thereís even a Sopwith Camel-inspired level where Skip flies around in a balsa wood toy airplane, dropping bombs on anthills spread throughout the map, all the while trying to avoid kamikaze dragonflies.
Power-ups are available throughout the levels in the form of colorful hovering butterflies Ė jump through a butterfly and it blows up into a shower of tiny flowers, with the resulting power-up falling to the ground. Power-ups include health-giving strawberries, blueberries that replenish Skipís flight meter, extra lives, protective shields, and killer bees that follow Skip around until he dispatches them off to deal with an enemy. (As an aside, always make sure Skip has an ample supply of killer bees as you canít necessarily aim which enemy you want your killer bee to take out.) The game also features a subplot of collecting blue and gold four-leaf clovers which add to your score, however the collection of clovers doesnít affect your progress through the game.
Level design is original and elaborate, and progress through most of the levels is assisted by maps posted at the top of the screen. Controlling Skip is done through either a gamepad, mouse, or keyboard alone, however I found the keyboard-only option to suit my liking best. The game features camera-oriented controls, meaning Skipís moves are relative to the position of the flying camera, which can take some time to get used to.