A clan of bullying Scorpions has organized entire legions of lesser insects to do their bidding, and if only they can keep their war machine well fueled by seizing every crumb in sight they have a good shot at conquering all bug-kind. Against this backdrop a solitary Ant unwittingly finds himself in charge of the insect world’s last remaining independent food stash. He may lack the exoskeletal fortitude to fend off an entire army on his own, but together with the war hardened Beetle and Spider – who have their own axes to grind with the Scorpions – he can at least hope to go down in a blaze of glory!
As noted in our preview last week, Bug Heroes (Out Now, $1.99) charges the player not only with mounting a vigorous defense of the title characters’ food stash but also foraging the game environments to re-stock it once ravenous enemies have broken through or the heroes themselves have been forced to feed on it for sheer survival. From a gameplay perspective the goal is ultra simple: hold out as long as possible against successive waves of foes in hopes of besting other players on the game’s internal leaderboard.
Many “infinite” games wear thin far sooner than the genre title would suggest, but this is far from the case with Bug Heroes because its real magic lies in depth of gameplay and not the mere competitive aspect. Said depth stems from several genres that have been blended into the game for good measure: 3D Action fans will enjoy flitting around enemy attacks while RPG fans will spend quite a bit of time poring over equipment options and figuring out how to best allocate Level Up points among character stats. Each Bug Hero has his or her specialty: the Ant can take out gun-toting enemies with his own long-range weaponry, the Beetle clears entire swaths of tiny critters with a giant stick, and the Spider’s multi-blade prowess makes her the Black Widow of choice for taking down heavily armored foes. The player’s set of choices still aren’t exhausted by the above-mentioned considerations: he or she must also decide whether to allocate hard-earned cash to purchasing new equipment for the Heroes or pump it into upgrading the food cache’s automated defenses.
One aspect of the game that will sound disappointing on paper is the fact that the Bug Heroes lose purchased equipment and the food cache’s turrets reset once the game is lost or the player switches among the four environments currently on offer. In practice, however, it becomes the key to the game’s longevity: the question planted in the back of the player’s mind is whether the Bug Heroes might have fared better had resources been differently allocated.
It definitely helps that the Bug Heroes earn additional pieces of armor and access to new equipment and skills that carry over from one attempt to the next. The ability to revisit earlier levels with a richer set of options – not to mention player experience – in hand makes Bug Heroes incredibly addictive, to the point that the average player should expect to spend far more time with the game than the few hours it takes to merely unlock all the levels.
Environments tend to be a bit cramped compared to the necessities of a straight-up Action/Adventure game, but here again Foursaken Media has chosen wisely in light of the game’s premise. Whether the player chooses to locate the Bug Heroes’ standoff on the opening counter top level or in a cordoned-off backyard, the limited excursions the player makes in search of food are sufficient enough to produce anxiety as he or she wonders what’s happening back at the stash the moment it falls outside visual range. Various alarms alert the player to enemy sieges so often that expanding the game environments beyond their current limits would only be counterproductive.