|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NinjaBee||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NinjaBee||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 3, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1, 2-8 online||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
In reality, creepy crawling critters are pretty disgusting, yet developer NinjaBee has managed to make them considerably more endearing by using a mixture of humor, colorful artwork, and simplified tactics gameplay with its latest offering Band of Bugs. The title made its debut on Xbox Live Arcade earlier this summer as one of the more fully developed downloadable titles on the platform. Players will get virtually the exact same experience in the recent port to PC. It does nothing to push the boundaries of the turn-based strategy genre, but Band of Bugs is still an entertaining journey through a wacky warring insect realm nonetheless.
With this particular title, NinjaBee makes a noble attempt to draw more casual players into a gaming niche typically reserved for those who get their kicks from level grinding and throwing down some d20s. The latter will likely find Band of Bugs painfully lacking in the level of depth customarily found in other games of this type. Whether players will find this to be a nuisance is a matter of personal taste. You can't customize your characters in any way; you're given a pre-set party for each mission; and aside from a few special abilities and spells, you're fairly limited in what you can physically do other than basic attack. On the other hand, these limitations also let players focus more on the strategies possible with the tools you're given without getting bogged down by too much customization (if there is such as thing). In some ways it's extremely liberating, and in others it's just irritating.
The bare-bones story mainly serves as a simple mechanism to loosely tie-in one mission to the next. You'll follow a young warrior bug named Maal on his exploits to save an insect kingdom while facing giant spiders, burly thug bugs, moths, mantis warriors, and larger, even nastier beasts. It's actually rather difficult to closely follow what's happening in the game's plot at times. You'll basically be fighting this, saving that, collecting this, and protecting that. It's basic stuff. The various bug characters are pretty amusing, however, and their antics help lift the game up beyond the surface storyline.
Band of Bugs gives players control over a small handful of unique bug characters which will be sent into strategic battles with numerous carapace-wearing foes across a range of 3D isometric maps. Each of the game's 20 single player campaign missions has objectives ranging from destroying all enemy units, reaching certain map locations, defending an area, and collecting a certain item, among a few others. Loss conditions typically involve losing a specific friendly character unit or in some cases losing any unit. Controlling your small army can be done with either the keyboard or the mouse. Mouse controls are preferable, however, selecting units is imprecise and it's too easy to accidentally blast your own teammates with a fireball or attack the wrong foe.