Bug Heroes Hands-On Preview

Creatures Great and Small

Little do we know, but when we lie down to sleep every night, entire armies of bugs equipped with tiny blades and machine guns spring forth to conquer the crumbs we leave behind during the day. Around this wacky premise Foursaken Media has built Bug Heroes, which places its player in command of three bugs who have banded together to protect their food stash at all costs. The gun-toting Ant, giant armored Beetle, and stealthy Spider really stand about as much chance of survival as the defenders of the Alamo; the player’s task is to exploit each character’s unique abilities to make sure the team doesn’t go down without one heck of a fight.

Bug Heroes‘ concept sounds simple on paper but players will appreciate how satisfyingly complex it becomes in realtime. The food stash must not only be defended but re-stocked, as the eponymous heroes need to replenish it after enemy feeding frenzies and gradually consume it themselves to restore their health. That, in turn, means leaving the cache undefended with the exception of automated turrets while the player scours counter tops, office desks, and myriad other environments in search of morsels left out in the open. With each passing day that the defenders survive, the waves of enemies they need to take down grow more intense and opportunities for scavenging the environment gradually shrink until it’s nigh impossible to hold out any longer.

Another monkey wrench thrown into the mix is the fact that mini-quests become available on a random basis, and these draw the player’s attention from his or her main task while offering monetary rewards that can be used to beef up the Bug Heroes themselves or the automated defenses guarding their food stash. Points awarded for annihilated enemies and completed quests are tallied up once the player is defeated, and naturally the results are ranked in the game’s internal high score board for comparison with the performance of other players.

In one of the most skilled developer moves we’ve seen recently, Foursaken Media has managed to balance the Bug Heroes’ fundamental desperation with an all-important sense of progression: surviving a certain number of rounds in one environment opens up a new and more challenging level, and certain accomplishments allow the player characters to access advanced virtual button-activated skills and equipment. These factors lend Bug Heroes a far more addictive quality than your average infinite game.

A brief look at the interface suggests Bug Heroes is one part Dual-stick Shooter and one part Action RPG, but fans of the latter genre will welcome the option to turn the right analogue stick into an auto-aiming attack virtual button. In fact, given that two out of the three player characters – the Beetle and Spider – rely mostly on short range melee attacks, this will feel much more natural to the Action RPG veteran overall. The player character can be switched at any time by simply tapping on the currently active character.

The Level Up points familiar to the mobile Action RPG fan appear here, giving the player complete control over how each Bug Hero’s basic stats and support abilities develop over time. Money acquired by defeating enemies or successfully completing quests can be used to purchase a surprising variety of skills and equipment upgrades, which enhance how unique each of the three player characters already feel by default. While Bug Heroes doesn’t necessarily have a hard focus on storytelling, Foursaken Media has done an excellent job fleshing out each character’s personality and backstory during the precious few moments these unlikely allies have to sit down and chat while eating moldy leftovers.

To go on at more length would rob iFanzine of material for the full review, but suffice it to say Bug Heroes is shaping up to be a most delicious morsel that fans of multiple genres will want to feast on once it releases. The only things that could keep Foursaken Media’s latest effort from must-have status are the occasional stability issues – dare I call them “bugs”? – that I experienced in the preview build we received. iFanzine will be Johnny-on-the-Spot with a full review once it’s out; for now, take a look at how beautiful the game is in motion!

The word from Foursaken Media is that Bug Heroes will sell for $1.99.