By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 07/18/2009
Now from the name you're probably thinking this is some boring programmer's game or an insect variation of "Where's Waldo?". In actuality it's an interesting take on the match 3 genre. Unfortunately, like most of the games in this series to date, it suffers from inadequate controls and hasty implementation. Here we go again...
In Spot The Bug you must match lady bugs to clear them from the screen. Unlike most match 3 games, however, you're not matching the bugs by color. Instead, you actually are matching them by the number of spots on their shells. What's more, each match must be equivalent to the number of spots (if a lady bug has two spots, you must match two of them together). The final thing that sets this apart from most matching games is that the bugs are always in motion, except for the ones that you have tapped as part of a match. Those are the good points of gameplay.
On the bad side, the controls are as touchy as most of the other games (pardon the pun). I've noticed one of two problems: either it doesn't seem to register a press at all, or there appears to be a "bleed through" effect where it actually selects the bug that's underneath the one that you clicked on. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that the bugs can actually crawl on top of each other, but it's annoying none the less and can sometimes intefere with the flow of the game, especially if the bug under the one you think you're clicking is a different number of spots. It also feels like the level progression is a bit off. I seem to get to level 5 just fine, and then it seems like I'm on level 5 forever - I've only made it past that level once that I recall.
The graphics are pretty decent, though I'd imagine it would be pretty hard to mess up a top down view of lady bugs crawling on leaves. I do appreciate the fact that it's real easy to see the dots, so there's no mistaking which have two dots and which have three. When you click on the bugs it sounds more like you're clinking cheap ornaments together than clicking bugs, but I'm not sure that the "right" sound effect there would enhance anything. I really like the background track. It kind of sounds like the music you'd hear in a cut scene of an adventure game where the heroes were approaching the castle of some great forgotten king, but it manages to work here anyway.
As with most of these games, there's a lot of potential in Spot The Bug. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the developer can do after this experiment is over and he actually starts putting some time into some of the games he produces. In the mean time, I have to give this thoughtful but mechanically challenged game a B-.