November 20, 2018
Archives  Reviews  Bugdom  

Publisher: Pangea Software    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3    RAM: 32 MB    Hard Disk: 10 MB    4x CD-ROM    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit

September 24, 1999 | Michael Eilers

Click to enlarge
Pangea Software’s Bugdom has its success practically guaranteed before it even hits the shelves; a bundling deal on future iBooks (and perhaps iMacs as well) guarantees that everyone who purchases one will get a copy of Bugdom. This is an ideal situation for both Brian Greenstone (head of Pangea) and Bugdom itself, because it delivers a great game directly into the hands of an ideal audience for it - first-time computer users, kids, kids at heart, and those new to gaming in general. And it is a Mac-only game to boot.

Apple gets its money’s worth out of this win/win deal themselves; Bugdom is such a polished and intriguing game, it may very well sell iMacs and iBooks on the strength of its graphics and gameplay alone. Prospective buyers may look at this game and figure, hey, if it plays this game well, it must play lots of other games just as well - and they would be right to conclude so.

But bundling deal aside, is Bugdom a success on its own? Does this relatively simple game transcend the limitations of Nanosaur (too hard, repetitive gameplay, stiff animation, high hardware requirements) and become a commercial release in its own right?

This Bug Ain’t Dumb!
Bugdom is one of those games that reviewers love to call ‘deceptively simple’: easy to pick up and learn, tough to master. With its cartoonish graphics, lack of bloodshed, happy color scheme and funny sounds, it is obviously not aimed at the serious gamer. In fact, as I noted earlier, its ideal player may be (in my experience with introducing friends and relatives to the game) people who have never played computer games - beyond solitaire or minesweeper - before. The intuitive controls often delight such first-time users, simply because of the novel sensation of being in control of a cute little bug walking on a 3D landscape.

Most of my personal complaints about the game - awkward camera behavior in spots, lack of resolutions beyond 640x480, no 32-bit color support, monotonous sound effects - went totally unnoticed by my less-game-savvy test subjects. They were just plain delighted.

I think Pangea’s (and Brian Greenstone’s) decision to make a bloodless, playful game that could appeal to this sort of crowd was brilliant. By eschewing all the trappings of hardcore gaming (violence and bloodshed, multiplayer, arcane preferences settings, .ini file hacking) and concentrating on look and feel, he made a game anyone could grasp in a minute. The fact that serious gamers such as myself can enjoy it too is just a bonus.


Archives  Reviews  Bugdom