Version Reviewed: 1.0.6
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Replay Value [rating:4/5]
David, one of the developers at Hexage, tells me the name of the game and the little blue character, Buka, came from a friend of his in Poland. Buka is a term for a scary guy in Polish folklore. I don’t know quite how this relates to this cute little blue ball of squeakiness, but oh well. Maybe it's because of the explosions she releases on her foes with the help of your touch.
[caption id="attachment_11938" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="This is scary? We\'re in for a world of hurt."]
When you start the game you’re given a brief introduction to the story line and how to controls work. The overarching theme of the game is to help Buka get to ‘the Happy Place’, defending her from all the ‘Baddies’ along the way. The Baddies are (evil?) rocks that come at various speeds and intensity, trying to hurt poor Buka. Your offense consists of touching and holding the screen to various degrees to make shock waves and explosions to fend off and destroy the rocks. Your defense is moving—either through touching and dragging Buka around, or using the accelerometer to steer her out of harms way.
Buka is not the kind of game I normally enjoy, so I had a hard time getting excited about it. Knowing it is fairly popular on the Android platform, I thought I would talk to David about the game to get some additional information. I wanted to know if there was a deep, cosmic message that I was missing. He replied, “Buka doesn't carry any explicit existential message. However, we really wanted players to make an emotional connection with Buka, to take care of her. While Buka is completely helpless, the player is a very powerful entity in Buka’s cosmos, his touch can be as life saving as deadly. So it is a game about love, protection and friendship.”
Okay, this gave me something to work with so I could put the game in perspective. As I played the game it became harder and I found my fingers moving faster and my iPhone wobbling at a greater intensity. Levels are completed in a short period and if you get beat up too badly (Buka gets a black eye after a few collisions) you roll back into the level to try again. This is a casual game, but also a game of skill. David informed me that a skilled player can beat it in a couple of hours. I, on the other hand, will take significantly longer. Because of my personal lack of emotional interest in Buka she’s going to have to wait a while to get to the Happy Place. Life’s full of priorities, Buka… you’re fun, but you don’t hold my interest for long.
And it’s this same lack of interest that keeps me going back to the game. It’s a very casual game that is very easy to pick up and put down. This makes it a great game to keep on the iPhone or Touch. This is a game of skill and I chose the linked video because it shows it well. The video is not only a good example of gameplay, it also shows you how to use the shock waves and explosions as tools and not just ways to protect yourself. For instance, after blowing up a baddie, some emit green objects which are good for Buka. You can navigate through the cloud of baddies to get the green thing, or you can use a shock wave to push the green thing to you. Some of these baddies come at you pretty fast and you can use the shock waves to make a wall and slow them down you can detonate them at a safe distance. Mastering these actions are fun and it is very pleasant to watch the game come together this way instead of just looking at it as muscling through each level.
[caption id="attachment_11943" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Just a touch of destruction"]
If you like action/adventure games this may not be your bag, or it may take you some time to get used to. If you like a game that takes some time and investment to get good at it, Buka will be a pleasure for you. Is it worth the $2.99? I think so, if not for the simplicity it brings to the table and high replay value.
Graphics & Sounds
The graphics and sounds of Buka are simple, crisp, and clean. There’s nothing too fancy going on and it’s easy on the eyes. Being there’s nothing exceedingly intense, the graphics are smooth and fluid. Everything works well in this department.
The sounds are nice too. Buka’s voice, a soft beeping, is easy on the ears. The explosions are deep and the shock waves have a gentle ‘ping’ sound to them. The soundtrack is present without being distracting.
David informed me that there is a major update coming to the game with a ‘survival’ mode and online leaderboards as they are often requested by players. I asked him if there were any Easter eggs to keep an eye out for, but he wouldn’t tell me. Having a military background with clearance, it means “yes” to me, but we didn’t spend much time on the topic.
To close, when asked whether he liked crunchy or creamy peanut butter, David replied, “Crunchy on top of creamy! Why? They’re both delicious!” David also wanted to let us know that he has some Buka wallpapers that he’s been holding on to. He wanted readers of 148apps to have them first and you can pick them up here.
It was cool talking with David at Hexage. He gave me some additional insight into the game and helped me look at it in a way I would not have otherwise. If you’re not into games like this, I would give it a try. Watch the video, skip buying a latté for a day, and give the game a try.