Bug Heroes in Review – Watch Your Step, They’re The Good Guys

An ant, a beetle and a spider walk onto a counter… no, this isn’t the start of some lame story from “1001 Bad Jokes To Tell Your Friends”.  It actually describes the first level of the game Bug Heroes, a fresh take on the castle defense genre… or is it a dual stick shooter with castle defense elements?  Either way it’s a lot of fun, though I’m just a bit disappointed that the difficulty levels aren’t balanced a bit better.  Still, you have to admire the developers for thinking outside the box and making something that actually stands out from the pack.  This game actually suffered a few setbacks before finally seeing release on the App Store, but the end result was worth the wait.

For those who didn’t guess from my witty banter in the first paragraph, in Bug Heroes you control an ant, a beetle and a spider.  An unlikely trio to be sure, but they’ve banded together to defeat a bigger threat – the horde of fleas, snails, slugs and other creepy crawlies that have invaded the house and are trying to get their food.  You’ll switch back and forth between the bugs, defending your food stash and generally wreaking havoc on the slimy population.  The ultimate goal is simply to last as long as you can. A given game ends either when all of the heroes have died or the food is gone.

To replenish your food supply you’ll find plates of food scattered around the playing field that you can pick up and take back to your base.  Your base can only store so much food, and you can only eat at your base.  Eating replenishes your health, though the beetle can slowly replenish on its own over time once you’ve upgraded its regeneration skill.  As you defeat critters the active bug gains experience, and when you earn enough to advance a level you’ll get to upgrade one of four skills, some of which are unique to each bug.

You earn money, experience and points by killing bugs and successfully completing missions that you accept.  This money can be used to add / upgrade turrets on your base, increase your base’s food store, and equip your bugs.  Between the bugs and the base there are plenty of options and only a limited supply of money, so it will serve you well to get used to the upgrades so you know how to choose wisely as you become better at the game.

There’s also a Coliseum mode where you pick an arena and a bug and just go at wave after wave of critters until they beat you.  There’s no base to defend, but it’s a good way to get used to the different critters and develop ways of combating them effectively.

To control your bug you get a virtual joystick for movement and another one for shooting.  They function fairly well, though the movement joystick seems to have a bit more of a “slip” factor than many other recent dual stick shooters.  There’s also an option for auto-fire, but you can run into issues with that when it decides to auto-fire at a target other than the one you want to shoot.  I really don’t have any gripe with the controls overall.

My main frustration with Bug Heroes is the missions.  I like them, and they’re nice because they provide points, experience and money, but overall I find them too difficult, especially when it comes to seek & find ones.  There’s absolutely no indication of where the items are that you need to find, they often keep you away from your base too long, and missions with too lofty of goals come along way too early in the game.  I think this system needs to be balanced quite a bit.

The game looks pretty stunning.  The character designs are great, and I like how you get close-ups when the bugs execute certain moves.  There are nice little details through the levels like sticky notes that actually have writing on them.  There’s even a little fly with a lantern that follows you around when it’s nighttime.  The only real problem I had was with the camera.  Since it’s a fixed view, there are rare occasions where you can get stuck somewhere and not be able to see what you’re doing.

The sound effects are decent enough.  I really like the voices for the three main characters, especially the beetle.  It has kind of a Cylon type tone to it.  The other noises are pretty standard run and gun sounds.  The music isn’t bad, but a bit more of a variety would be nice.  I am glad that there at least is music, though, as I tend to really notice when there is nothing playing in the background.

Bug Heroes is a unique blend of castle defense, dual stick shooter and lite RPG, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking for a new experience on their iPhone.  I’ve only made it past level 5 once on either of the stages I have unlocked so far, yet I still find myself wanting to go back for more.  If they could get the mission difficulty balanced a bit better the game play would be near perfect.  The graphics are slick, weapon wielding bugs are awesome, and there’s no good reason not to pick this one up.

App Summary
Title: Bug HeroesDeveloper: Foursaken Media
Reviewed Ver:1.0.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$1.99App Size:Size: 49.9 MB
  • Unique blend of genres
  • Bugs with weapons
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice voicework
  • Optional missions aren’t very balanced

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  • Jerome

    “I’ve only made it past level 5 once on either of the stages I have unlocked so far”

    I’ll cut you some slack because of this. I’ve played a metric ton of gams on iOS, and bug heroes is definitely the cream of the crop. You don’t rate a movie before it is done playing, you don’t applaud the orchestra while they warm up, and you don’t celebrate your team’s victory when the first quarter ends and you don’t judge bug heroes after merely dipping your toes into a game rife with depth and features.

    At level 5, you just can’t have experienced everything this game has to offer. The variety of weapons – many of which are likely still locked for you – provide deep strategy, as do the leveling skill points, and the various levels (some of which it looks like you haven’t seen, such as an outdoors level where a “giant” cat attacks friend and foe alike). There is even strategy in upgrading and selecting your turrets, many of which you probably don’t have access to, and the wonderful storyline nuggets gained from quests – history scrolls that talk of Bruce Flea (he was pretty awesome) and other awesome tidbits from bug story. The game is absolutely amazing, and more is on the way. Heck, the highest levels I can get to are the mid-20s, and I feel like I’m still missing some of the insane waves that come at higher levels (some folks in the forums got to 60s and above).

    Foursaken has been among the most active devs I’ve ever seen (looks like they even retweeted this review). They are on some of the other review sites constantly helping players, providing stats, giving update hints. Heck, they just had an incredibly fast (albeit needed) stability update with some control support to boot.

    From a player who has seen more of what this game has to offer – it’s an obvious buy.

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