Bugz in Review: Creepy Crawlers

bugz1Upon starting this game, I was filed with hesitation and a little doubt. Would I be able to handle the cutesy graphics without the rise of self-loathing? Would the gameplay be engaging? Despite my apprehension, I can confidently say that this is a game I am enjoying. There’s something about Bugz that gets under your skin, and this is definitely not a bad thing.

bugz2From the first strum of the pseudo-banjo, the player is greeted with the choice to either load or create a profile. Bugz has the option of creating and storing multiple profiles. While most people consider the iPhone and iTouch a solitary device, unlike consoles, the inclusion of this option is appealing to those who may be have significant others. Another added benefit of this is that after entering your name for Bugz, you never have to do so again, even to upload your stats, and yes, sometimes I am just that lazy.

You are then led to the main menu screen, which is easy enough to navigate. One minor critique I have about this is in Didev Studios’ decision in naming the ‘Global Leaderboard’ option ‘Wifi Options’. I would prefer both the ‘Global Leaderboard’ and ‘View Stats’ options to be merged together. This is just minutia and has no effect on the overall presentation of the game.
bugz3The gameplay of Bugz is quite simple. “The aim… is to pop as many bugz as possible by starting a chain reaction of bugz popping. To do this you have to tap the screen to create an initial pop which will expand and then shrink again. If your pop hits another bug then that bug will pop, starting a chain reaction effect.” (*taken from http://www.didev-studios.com/bugz/) There is almost a therapeutic hearing all those cartoony pops. Although Bugz is similar in most respect to the various Chain Reaction Explosion Games, there are a few tweaks it made to the formula to set it apart.

One tweak is the amazing fact that you cannot die… ever. If you fail to reach the stated objective given before the start of the level, then you just have to play that level over again until you can obtain the objective. While this may turn off some of the more hardcore, masochistic players, it does make it a better pick-up-and-play type game that you can actually finish over time. What helps in this respect is the inclusion of the ‘Global Leaderboard.’ Since you cannot replay levels, you must do your best each time in order to get the highest score possible.

Another tweak is in the inclusion of obstacles. There are, eventually, special bugs that are denoted by the dark outlines around them that you MUST explode. The other obstacle are flowers that cayuse bugz to slow down and stop for a second. This throws off your estimation on the where and when a bug will be and helps to create another level of challenge.

bugz4There are two things that do detract from the quality of Bugz. One is the tracking of stats. It is extremely under-developed. It keeps track of your current level, your score, how many times you got 100%, and your high score. Didev Studios could have included how many times you had to restart a level, or how many bugz you missed, or other such statistics to satiate the stats junkie in all of us. (OK, most of us… some of us?)

The other gripe I do have about the same is the sound. To change the options for sound and vibration you must go to the settings panel in your iDevice’s Spingboard. The option to turn the sound off turns off the music. Unfortunately, it also turns off all those satisfying pops the bugz make. This is perhaps the biggest hindrance to the quality of Bugz and something I hope the developer addresses in an update.

Despite all this, I do have to say that Bugz is a fun game to play. The fact that you cannot die and can progress ahead at your own pace is a great addition to the chain-reaction-explosion-game formula. The graphics, while not being over complicated are both clean and even slightly whimsical. For the low price of $0.99, Bugz is a great game that can be greater with and update.

Some Food For Thought:
The immense quantity of apps makes it difficult for a developer to bring something new to the table. Innovation seems to take second place to either graphics or player controls. This reality is becoming more and more evident as the various genres of gaming catalogues are being filled out. (i.e. TD, racing, !sudoku!, and even the chain-reaction-explosion-game) A game like Bugz is heading in the right track. They take the standard formula and tweak it enough to create a different feel. Yet, I believe that developers need to go further to help set their product within a vastly different echelon. Otherwise, they’ll just be relegated to just another <fill in the blank> app.

bugz6tap

App Summary
Title:BugzDeveloper:Didev Studios
Price:$0.99App Size:3.2 mb
  • Change in genre formula
  • Global Leaderboard
  • Saved Profiles
  • Bad Sound Options

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    Not sure what echelon, bugz would actually fit into. There are games such as Mr. Aahh, that only require one function (i.e. swinging, or in the case of bugz it would be squashing). These types of single funtion games have simple graphics and many levels. Unfortunately they seem to be nothing more than sections of more complicated games, and fail to provide a compelte gaming experience. However, for the $0.99 price these games are worth every penny.

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