Whoever coined the phrase “as busy as a bee” wasn’t kidding — these little guys have one heck of a demanding job! See for yourself by taking control of the eponymous star of Bee Leader (Out Now, $0.99) as he toils tirelessly from dawn to dusk, buzzing hither and thither through bustling, danger-fraught environments and gathering up as much nectar and pollen for his hive as possible.
Bee Leader’s quest is spread over 12 levels set in 4 different worlds, each with its own unique flora, (mostly dangerous) fauna and other miscellaneous obstacles and puzzles that stand between our high-flying hero and sweet, sweet success.
Your mission in this charming side-scrolling flying game is simple: deposit a decent amount of nectar in your hive before nightfall for a high-score. You do so by exploring Bee Leader’s elegantly and intricately designed landscapes, hovering over flowers to suck up their nectar, enlisting ‘bee buddies’ (cute ickle honey bees who follow the leader and help him gather more nectar), hunting down power-ups, and breaking open wooden crates and glass jars to appropriate the honey inside.
As you zoom around racking up as many points as you can, you must also contend with a pretty vast array of “enemies”. These range from lightening bolt-shooting storm clouds to irritable critters who don’t take kindly to a squadron of honey bees invading their personal space. By far the most menacing foe you’ll encounter on your travels is the angry hornet, who pursues you through levels, stinging you and sapping your precious nectar until you manage to shake him off with some skillful aerial maneuvers.
Bee Leader’s fast-paced gameplay is surprisingly challenging and a whole lot of fun, while the sumptuous art design and presentational polish let you know how much time and love went into crafting the game. It’s evident Flightless also put a lot of effort into getting the controls right — there are nine different options on offer — but, sadly, they didn’t really hit that sweet spot for me. They just feel a tad overly sensitive and make circumventing tightly-packed levels more a struggle than it need be, which I can see being a turn-off for some people — especially younger players. Flightless do have an update in the works that will address this issue, though! In terms of longevity, 12 levels might not seem like much, but Bee Leader actually boasts a lot of replayability as you’ll want to revisit stages again and again to find all the hidden ‘bee buddies’ and strive for a better score.
Aside from a few small niggles, Bee Leader is a thoroughly charming and likeable little game that comes highly recommended. Flightless are a studio worth keeping an eye on in the future methinks!
iFanzine Verdict: A beautifully crafted game that oozes creativity and whimsical charm. All that drags Bee Leader down a notch and keeps it from scoring a perfect 5-star rating are those vaguely unwieldy, never quite 100% comfortable controls. Still, this one comes highly recommended to iGamers of all ages.