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Publisher: Pangea Software    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 266 MHz    RAM: 128 MB

Bugdom 2
November 25, 2002 | Jean-Luc Dinsdale

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The visual quality of the game is excellent. Levels are rich, colorful, and brightly detailed. Environments are gorgeous and lush. Character design is expressive and detailed: mean-looking flies wear leather jackets; lawn gnomes are just as garish and tacky as in real life. The character animations are well executed and quite entertaining – watch for the green plastic army men’s walking cycles and the dieing dance of the food-hoarding ants. Even the seemingly random hovering of the killer bees following Skip around are worth a close look.

The game also sports impressive visual effects, from lens flares that track across the frame with the sun to the particle effects of the flower showers and the killer bees hitting their targets. Water is transparent and shimmers in the wind, and the fire and smoke effects featured throughout the game are impressive.

The game’s sound is also well executed and entertaining. The sound effects are effective and non-intrusive, and are so realistic that I even mistook the buzzing of the killer bees for my Powerbook’s cooling fan! Pangea games have always offered great music tracks, and Bugdom 2 does not disappoint. The game’s full orchestral score is engaging and varied, with what seemed to be a new musical track for every single level of the game. The music tracks suit the levels they’re composed for - I particularly enjoyed the “surf music” that kicks in on the appropriate levels.

Strikes Against
Unfortunately, although the game is engaging and hugely entertaining, it does have a few flaws. Unlike most modern games, Bugdom 2 does not include a tutorial level, which would benefit gamers (like me) who don’t bother reading the manual. The game’s camera-oriented controls were at first confusing and occasionally got me into trouble. The game could also have used more fully developed and satisfying start- and end-animations, and the game could also have benefited from the use of professional voice actors.

Although updates are released periodically, a few minor bugs still litter the program, but luckily don’t affect gameplay. The graphics settings could afford to be a little more intuitive – a lot of modern games sense your GPU and adjust themselves accordingly. Pangea’s solution to graphics settings is to click an option and try it out, which can become a frustrating experience: there’s a rendering glitch mentioned in the manual’s FAQ that recommends rebooting the system as the fix. I ended up rebooting the game maybe four or five times on the first map until I finally realized that the texture problem I was encountering was due to the game’s 32-bit z-depth option.

Although I’m no child psychologist, I’m not sure if the game is necessarily suitable for its intended age group. Although the game features a “Kiddie Mode” that helps keep the bad guys at bay, I occasionally found some of the levels to be difficult even for a hardcore gamer like myself. A small number of level design flaws occasionally made the level’s goals or progress unclear. And if I were a parent, I might think twice about a game that promotes violence (well, kicking, anyway) as a means out of difficult situations.

Finally, my last criticism of the game doesn't affect gameplay, nor does it reflect badly on the game itself. Although Bugdom 2 is a well-executed and entertaining game, I find Brian Greenstone's choice of game genres to lack creativity. Financial obligations aside, Pangea Software's games, although extremely well executed and produced, are pretty much the same. From Weekend Warrior to Nanosaur to Bugdom to OttoMatic, Brian Greenstone and gang seem to favour the "third person walk around in a cute 3D environment and do stuff" game type. Granted, Bugdom 2 contains several levels that differ from the basic gameplay. And of course, as a gaming addict only, I can't testify to the difficulty and stress involved in releasing a new game every year. However I would very much like to see Brian's company stretch a little and try something new. As we saw with Cro-Mag Rally, I know that Brian and co. have what it takes to produce polished and succesful games that differ from their usual game type. I certainly hope we'll get to see Pangea flex its creativity muscles a little more in the future.

These issues aside, Bugdom 2 is a vastly entertaining and fun game. Gameplay, level design, and overall polish match the quality of multi-million dollar triple-A titles currently available for our favorite platform. The game’s depth and humour will appeal to players young and old, and will keep players of all ages entertained for hours.

The system requirements are low - the game will run great on any system featuring a 266 mhz G3 with 128 megs of RAM and an ATI Rage 128 or greater. The game ran beautifully on both the 667 mhz Powerbook and the 400 mhz G4 desktop it was tested on.

Bugdom 2 is available on both CD and as a 120 meg download, priced at $34.95 and $29.95 respectively. And if you’re unsure, IMG’s sister site MacGameFiles is hosting both a 30 meg demo as well as the full version of the game. Try them out. This game is definitely worth your time.

Bugdom 2
Developer: Pangea Software
Publisher: Pangea Software
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