I’m allergic to bees, so I have to admit playing a game where the lead character is a buzzing bee is a little disconcerting. It’s not that I don’t like bees. I appreciate their role in nature. I love honey. I just try to stay clear of them for fear of being stung. Trust me; it’s no fun to swell up like a balloon. With their new iPhone game BuzzBee, Utopian Games (makers of Tumble Jumble) attempts to prove that bees can be fun when they’re safely trapped inside a video game.
My favorite thing about BuzzBee is that you can start playing immediately without much of a learning curve. The game concept is very straightforward. You control the movement of a bee in a field of flowers. Your goal is to move the bee from one flower to the next so he can do his work pollinating the flowers. Sounds simple, right? Did I mention the flowers are spinning around at different speeds and in different directions? Did I mention the bee can only move in a straight line? If you don’t aim him directly over the center of the destination flower, he will fly off the screen and you will lose the game! The simplicity of the game concept is brilliant, but the tuning of the game difficulty is not well executed.
I applaud the developers for trying to make a game that appeals to beginning and advanced gamers. Unfortunately, it ‘s a noble but very difficult goal to achieve. I play a lot of iPhone games, and I struggled to get past level 4 in BuzzBee after playing for a long time. Granted, there are only 10 levels in the game, but I failed so many times that I just grew tired of trying to play.
A game is “fun” to play if I am I able to gradually get better and better as I play. If a game doesn’t gradually reward the player for continuing to try, then we simply stop playing. No one likes a game that makes them feel like a failure. One way to fix this design flaw would be to offer two (or more) difficulty setting for players. Many games do this. Let me play on the “easy” setting until I feel confident I can tackle the “difficult” mode. Alas, there is only one mode in the game currently, and it is set to “very difficult.”
Except for this major design flaw, everything else about this title is top notch. Graphics are sharp, colorful and engaging. The soundtrack is delightful. The singer voices the “buzz” sound of a bee in some creative and entertaining ways (I actually laughed out loud at one point). The arcade-like sound effects and movements are just perfect. However, I do have a small gripe. I think one of the reasons I failed so many times in playing this game is that the music moves at a moderate tempo, so I felt like I was supposed to move the bee quickly from flower to flower. This is not the case. There is no reward (that I could tell) for making decisions with speed. The more I concentrated and slowed down my pace, the more successful I was in progressing. It’s all about the accuracy of flight of the bee. If you’re lined up with the center of the intended flower, then you’ll be fine.
With the exception of the level of difficulty flaw, BuzzBee is a fine effort. Currently offering 10 rounds of play, it’s a good value if you don’t mind working hard to progress. With impressive sound and graphics, this game will keep you “busy as a bee” for hours.