Bug Chucker

Our Review by Jason Wadsworth on May 12th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: WORTH A CHUCK
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What could we expect next from the makers of games like Myst and Riven other than a game where we shoot space bugs out of a cannon at saw blades to protect a huge tree in a space ship? Right?

Developer: Cyan Worlds

Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

This app's name gives you one small clue as to what you can expect from the game, Bug Chucker. Bugs will be chucked, and lots of them. Though, to think that this game is limited to flinging bugs around at obstacles would be a gross underestimation of a game that has some deep and surprisingly varied gameplay.

The Galactic Bugship S.S. Treehugger is large space ship that bears the Great Tree, which -- oddly enough -- is a really big tree. The hippie space bugs that inhabit this ship and protect the Great Tree need some help fighting off the robotic Sawz; minions of the evil Lord Lahguh. Basically this means that the game consists of firing the "good guy" bugs at the "bad guy" saw robots. Most of this narrative is left out of the game, and all you get is a few short animations that show off the tree, the ship, and the bug-firing cannon attached to the ship. The lack of narrative doesn't hurt the game much, though. It shouldn't take much encouragement to get players ready to fire space bugs out of a cannon.

Firing (or chucking) bugs into obstacles to attack hiding enemies might sound very similar to another series of games featuring certain feathered flinging friends, but Bug Chucker mixes things up with some interesting physics that add a layer of complexity not seen in most games of this type. Since each level takes place in space, the gravity that affects the bugs as they are chucked is dictated by planets, suns, or even black holes. These objects will bend the trajectories of the bugs and other debris making it more difficult to smash them into the enemy Sawz.

This complexity means that a little more thought needs to be put into each shot. Since it is difficult to know exactly how the various sources of gravity will effect each bug it will take trial and error to find the perfect trajectory. The complexity also leads to the most satisfying part of this game: chain reactions.

It's obvious that some very thoughtful level design went into this game. More often than not, in each level there is a brute force solution and a more elegant solution. The more elegant solutions are generally found by using a bug to tip an object in just the right direction; letting the gravity take over from there where it creates a chain reaction of objects bumping into other objects until all the Sawz are smashed. Finding these solutions is a blast and watching them play out is super satisfying.

At the end of each level players are awarded a one, two, or three star rating. Return and chuck bug after bug until every star is earned. Progress through the game to see new bug types that open up more ways to attack enemies - like the bomb beetle and others. Sometimes control of the bug cannon can be a bit twitchy and lining up that perfect shot is more difficult than it should be, but generally this isn't an issue. Bug Chucker is fun, satisfying, and more challenging than it lets on.

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