|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|
Not All Roses In the GardenI was an alpha and beta tester for this game, and I can attest to Brian’s willingness to tweak the gameplay to suit our suggestions and complaints. The game came a very long way in a short period of time, and almost all of my complaints were addressed. But after playing the game through to completion, I do see many areas for improvement.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the game’s difficulty. While there is an ‘easy mode’ for beginning players, which turns down the amount of damage done by enemy critters in the game (with the exception of Mosquitos and the Fish) it doesn’t affect the numbers and frequency of those enemies or increase your number of lives. Beginning players who aren’t gamers, such as my fiancee, were totally intimidated by the second and third levels and just plain gave up on the fourth level. Even I was stumped for quite some time by a ‘puzzle’ at the end of the fourth level, and I can’t imagine a ‘newbie’ game player getting past that point without explicit help.
I think the ‘Easy Mode’ should grant infinite lives, since score isn’t a major priority of the game anyway. I’d also like to see a ‘kids mode’ which lowers the number of attacking enemies and slows the overall pace of the game. While getting to the later levels in this way wouldn’t have the same sense of achievement as getting there the hard way, I think in its current state very few non-hardcore gamers would get to those levels at all - which would be a shame, considering how much fun they are.
The ‘Boss’ levels, particularly the Queen Bee level, are also much too hard even for veteran players. The Queen Bee level isn’t just tough, it doesn’t make much sense and quickly ceases to be fun. The much more satisfying Night Attack is a great example of how to make a level challenging and fun as well.
Powerups such as invulnerability and extra players are poorly placed and far too rare in general, as are the ‘water drop’ markers that allow you to reincarnate at further spots in a level.
I also have some complaints about the engine itself: I realize that Pangea wanted to keep the settings simple for first-time gamers, but there should definitely be an option to switch to higher resolutions if you have the hardware to support it. The game would look gorgeous at 1024x768 on my Rage 128 card, and I’m sure the frame rate would be very good. I’d also like the option to switch to 32-bit color, to avoid the subtle (but still irritating) ‘dither’ effect that Rage 128 cards generate in 16-bit mode.
I guess I just want the best of both worlds: a fun game for kids with the features of a serious game for adults. I don’t see any reason why a game like Bugdom can’t be both.
Cute As a BugBugdom is certainly a great game; we don’t have many of its type to chose from on our platform, and it is good enough to rival many of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation titles that it is similar to. Its easy-to-grasp controls and interface are almost totally transparent, even to new users, and the “feel” of the game is just plush and polished - as is the look.
My only complaint is that the game currently straddles the gap between ‘newbie’ gamers (iBook and iMac buyers) and ‘hardcore’ gamers; it is too easy in the beginning and too tough towards the end. If the player had more control over the difficulty level, the problem would be addressed immediately, but perhaps at the expense of the gameplay Pangea worked so hard to balance.
Regardless, the game is a remarkable visual and gameplay experience. The first time I blasted across a foggy pond on the back of a Water Taxi, I had to pick my jaw up off the carpet. That five minutes alone was worth the purchase price, and I’m speaking sincerely.
If you are in envy of the N64 games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, then Bugdom is for you. If you want a Mac-only game to taunt your PC-using friends with, then Bugdom is for you. If every game you currently play has a deathmatch option, then Bugdom isn’t for you. Or perhaps you need to discover Bugdom and give all that mayhem and gore a rest for a while...
Personally, I can’t wait to see what Brian and the Pangea team dream up next.
- Splendid, original graphics and music
- Smooth, polished gameplay: ‘plush’ feel
- Excellent 3D engine with huge levels and very nice textures
- Lens flares, fire, water ripples, splashes, all manner of special effects
- Brilliant ‘cartoony’ animation and caricatured enemies
- A nice mix of obstacles and very different levels in look and strategy
- Lots of humor and some surprises
- Runs great on Rage Pro chips and iBook :-)
- Damn that bug is cute!
- Sound effects get repetitive
- Too easy for serious gamers in the beginning; way too hard for casual gamers near the end
- Not enough lives for younger players
- Too far between checkpoints
- Can only save at end of level
- Camera is a bit flaky in small rooms
- No 32-bit color or high resolutions