Review

Band of Bugs Review (Xbox360)

Until I visited the Ninjabee website I didnít have a specific genre in which to place Band of Bugs. Itís definitely a strategy game, but not an RTS. The technical term for it is a tactical strategy game or turn-based strategy game, which means itís a lot like playing with miniatures on a battle map, but done graphically on the computer. OhÖand itís fun too.


Watch out for the wooden arm, heíll give you a splinter!

Egg carriers are escort missions.

Band of Bugs was originally a release for the XBOX Live Arcade in the summer of 2007 and made the move over to the PC world in December. The basic storyline places you in the insect shoes of Maal, the local bug prince, who needs some army training so he can grow up to be a decent bug king. Towards this end heís put under the watchful eye of Tiernan, a praying mantis warrior with a wooden arm and plenty of experience, and taught to be a leader by working his way through the twenty maps that are part of the campaign mode of the game. The story doesnít get much more complex than that, though there are a few amusing turns more or less and the discover of dark jelly leads to a twist or two, however the focus of the game is the combat as well it should be.

Graphically Band of Bugs isÖdare I say itÖcute. The color scheme is bright and cheerful, reminding me of a Pixar film, but not so bright that itís hard on the eyes. Animations are smooth and different enough for each bug type that the combat motion isnít boring. One of the features that I like is that the color of a given unit changes after the unit has acted in the round. This allows you to tell visually how many enemies have yet to move, which often changes tactics to attack units that havenít already attacked versus those that arenít going anywhere for another round.


Which way to face? Into combat of course!

Arenít we just cute?

Thereís not a lot to the sound aspect of the game, so no fuss for having the latest in sound cards. The bugs all speak in bugese which is a nonsense language that I very quickly tuned out, just skimming the dialogue boxes and getting down to business. When each bug moves there is an accompanying sound, which did amuse me as the first time the mosquitoes attacked I found myself checking the room for flying critters and itching.

Each of the maps encountered is slightly different than the others, either in terrain, goals, or the types of enemies and friends in place. It only takes a map or two to learn the basics of combat and what bug types use what weapon and movement types. Every bug has at least two weapon options and some are spell casters that can heal your forces or blast the enemy with fire, rocks, ice, etc. Positioning is key from where you are in relation to your allies to what direction youíre facing adding a layer of challenge to what is, at the heart, a fairly simple game. This simplicity may be a turn off to some, particularly hard core war gamers, but for me I found I enjoyed being able to quickly complete a mission and then pop out to do something else and return a half hour later for another few levels of bug squishing.

Band of Bug offers twenty campaign maps, several stand alone maps, a map editor so you can create and exchange maps of your own and a rather extensive multiplayer mode. I played around with each of these modes, though without having several friends that all had the game what I could do in multiplayer was limited. Iíd like to explore this more, but that will have to wait until more friends pick up copies of their own.



Only a silver? Bah!

The requiredÖNinja Bee reference.

All in all Band of Bugs was a good play, though how much replayability for the price tag it has is yet to be seen. There are several maps on which I only received a silver ranking so Iím planning on heading back in to see if I canít get gold all the way across. Wish me luck!

Top Gaming Moment: I like the bombs. Iím never thinking about what insects make bombs out of, cause that makes me think of dung beetles, but I still like destroying many enemies with one strike!

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Comments

By crawlroman (SI Core) on Mar 12, 2009
crawlroman
I like this game +D
By Hamarik (SI Core) on Mar 12, 2009
Hamarik
Sound's me like heat of scrap.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Mar 12, 2009
Wowerine
It's one of those Live games... Bugs Life was better back in 1999 :P