By Eric Pankoke on Wed, 11/30/2011
The insect kingdom has gone mad, and as a concerned little girl you feel obligated to correct the problem. You’ll do so by travelling around the countryside, tossing bombs at the crazed bugs. In adventure mode you’ll have to conquer 15 levels of bugs across three different worlds, each with a unique set of creatures to fight. The fifth level of each world contains a big boss that when defeated unlocks levels in Score Trials and Bug Battle modes that correspond with the world that you just beat. Score Trials allows you to play a timed or endless battle against wave after wave of bug. Bug Battle lets you play against another human either locally through Bluetooth or across the world through Game Center.
I haven’t had the opportunity to play Bug Battle mode yet, but between Score Trials and Adventure mode, Adventure is my favorite. You start out with a limited area on each level, and as you defeat bugs new areas are opened up to you. If you’re lucky you might even find spots where you can collect special trinkets called Kabutans. Each non-boss level has either one or two of these, but so far I’ve been less than adequate at retrieving them. It’s still fun to try, though, and you can always go back and attempt to locate them after you’ve beaten a level. Once you’ve cleared enough creatures the level’s goal will open, and reaching it means you’ve beaten the level.
As you wander the levels you’ll meet all manner of creature whose common goal is to kill you. You must bomb them to get rid of them, but some may take more than one bomb to kill. The alternative is to hold the fire button for a while and let your current bombs power up before releasing them. You can often kill tougher creatures with one hit this way. The nice thing is that you can run around while your bomb is charging. As you kill creatures they will leave coins to boost your score and energy to power up your bombs. You can collect up to three “boosts” for your bomb, potentially allowing you to really power up your weapon (assuming you can wait that long to attack anything). When you loose a life all bomb energy is lost as well.
The game is essentially a dual stick shooter, with the default settings being a virtual joystick in the lower left side and the fire button on the right side. What’s cool about firing is that the default is to be in “lock-on” mode, which allows you to target a number of enemies for the first couple seconds while you’re powering up your bomb. When you release the fire button all those targets will be hit, and depending on the power of your bomb other creatures might suffer collateral damage. You can switch the joystick so that it will move with your hand, but what I recently experienced with that was a couple of times I got too close to the edge of the screen and “lost” the joystick, resulting in death and ultimately loosing the level I was playing. You can also switch the fire button to directly through where you tap after you release, which actually works fairly decent, but I prefer the targeting mode.
The graphics are decent enough. Everything is bright and colorful and well animated, if not just a bit tiny sometimes. At least there are some nifty creature designs. It all has a bit of a Super Nintendo feel about it. The same can be said for the sound effects. I was a bit disappointed that the different creatures didn’t have their own grunts and groans. The music is rather entertaining, and each world has its own theme which is always a bonus.
Dual stick shooters have become a staple in the game section of the App Store, but so often they exude the “been there, done that” feeling that makes you want to give up on them rather quickly. Bug Panic is a breath of fresh air in that regards. The targeting mechanism and the need to open up your path as you go along set Bug Panic above many of its peers. The aesthetics are a bit below the leaders in this pack, and the supplemental game modes don’t add much in my opinion, but Adventure mode is a blast while it lasts. The main drawback to this title is the price, which is much higher than comparable games in its genre. Still, if you don’t mind shelling out the dough, there’s some decent dual stick action to be had here.
Overall Score: 7/10
App Store Link