Banzai Bugs is, perhaps surprisingly considering the very Japanese-inspired name, the brainchild of a Canadian Team, Devillish Development. They have produced a quick, easily entertaining arcade experience for the iPhone that will drain many hours of your time. Pulling you out of the real world for a short time, the developers wistfully transport you to a semi-peaceful garden where some rather fruit-deprived lady bugs need assistance in obtaining nourishment.
It is a very simple idea. Utilising the touch mechanics beautifully, the player is constantly required to create platforms, called clouds, (although they look more like classic paddle game icons) for bouncing insects to spring off. The angle you draw determines which directions the insects spring towards, with the goal being to get the insect to eat the fruit. Blocking your ravenous insects from reaching the realms of satiated Nirvana include a time limit, a snake in the grass and spider from unseen treetops whose hold and web, respectively, will slow down/halt your insect as well as a bird who is competing for the same food source.
The game’s difficulty curve is achieved through the introduction of these enemies, increased time pressure and the inception of different colour ladybugs whose fussy nutritional nature only permits them to eat fruits that match the colour of their shell. This in particular proves to be a challenge as fruit of a different colour is repelled by your stubbornly monochromatic bugs. By the time you are competing for the Black and Master levels, the screen is very full and you need to be tracking quite a few things at once.
Sadly, the games difficulty rating never really enters the realms of ‘very hard’ and the experience can be over rather quickly, all 14 achievements racked up in a matter of hours. However, the replayability is high, with an option to reset these achievements as well as two sandbox/ challenge modes, featuring a score accumulation mode and time based survival. Further to this, the game is accessible with Game for bragging rights be high. Certainly, I know how my train trips will be passed for the next few weeks.
A special mention is deserved in regards to the art direction; with both cute well created animations as well as excellent music and sound effects. The mood of the game is wonderfully created by the use of very calming, peaceful and relaxing music. Whilst one could complain that the developers may have been better served with a little more varied score, as the current soundtrack features just a single track, this is only minor thing as that one track suits the game perfectly. Sound effects are appropriate and add to the experience.
Oddly, this game poses a question I would have never asked of what happens when a Canadian developer takes on a Japanese-inspired theme and ports it to the ‘fast food’ gaming culture of iPhones? The answer: a serene and comfortable experience utilizing a very successful gaming mechanic, updated with quality cartoon animations that creates an enjoyable experience.
– Owen S