Bringing the phrase “bug zapper” to an all-new level
Skippy the Squirrel just can’t seem to play nice with the other animals. Or maybe the other animals don’t really play nice with him. Either way, it seems like his crazed affinity with electrocution has led him to yet another animal-frying adventure. First, it was Bird Zapper, and now, Namco Bandai brings us Bug Assault.
When the birds realized they weren’t quite powerful enough to annoy Sparky on their own, they decided that enlisting an insect army might be the perfect sneak attack into his tree. Unluckily for them, Sparky is about as hopped up on electricity as a squirrel could be, and is ready for a shocking counterassault of his own.
In this arcade-style “shooter”, you control Sparky and his trusted electricity coils. By tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen, you’ll generate a short burst of electricity that fries any infernal insect in your path. Each bug that goes unpunished will deduct a point from your life count, from 20 downward. Hit zero, and it’s game over.
Unfortunately for Sparky, things aren’t as easy as frying everything in your path. Amongst all the rotten bugs are the sweet and harmless ladybugs. Sparky might be crazy, but at least he has some self-respect. Hitting a ladybug will drop your health five-fold. Alongside giant insect bosses, knowing when to zap and when to restrain yourself becomes a very challenging task.
If there’s anything Bug Assault has, it’s color, and lots of it. There are almost 30 unique critters to fry, each with its own special pattern or skill. Remembering how to deal with each one becomes extremely challenging, especially when they come in droves alongside ladybugs.
It sounds silly, but getting a fact about insects at the end of each run is a nice touch. Did you know that fleas have lived for 100 million years? Or that grasshoppers can see behind their heads? A special “Kids Mode” is available for younger players wanting less challenge and more facts, but the facts on the “Adult Mode” come pretty plentifully, too.
The only thing keeping Bug Assault from moving from “great game” to “amazing game” territory is that it doesn’t offer enough ways to progress and beat your old high score. It’s a tough game, and it’ll be pretty hard for most players to get much farther than a fourth boss fight, even after memorizing each bug’s attack pattern.
There are special items in the shop to aid you, including a newspaper, bug spray, and the all-mighty Tesla coil, but they all operate on ammunition. Once you’re out of ammunition, you have to go back and buy more. The game offers a moderate amount of in-game currency while you play, but having to constantly invest in ammo means you likely won’t see an increase in your score without dropping lots of real-life money to support heavy ammo.
What the game needs is permanent upgrades. Some way for you to constantly climb up your scoreboard and inspire you to earn more currency with each round. It’s this addictive formula that brought games like Temple Run into stardom, and Bug Assault is just a few modifications from being truly infectious.
Even with the lack of an addictive progression curve, Bug Assault is a nice addition to the arcade-style app library. The upgrade system might be a little flawed, but the unique two-finger gameplay and colorful cast of critters are enough to make any gamer happy. And, let’s be honest here: who doesn’t want to zap some pesky bugs?