Monday, September 24, 2012


They sure loved their insects back on the Sega Saturn.
After Tempo the grasshoper, comes BUG!
Bug the..huh..bug-thingie?

This one wasn't made from an internal team at Sega, but that didn't stop him from self-proclaiming his title as the one and only mascot of Sega's 32 bits system!

VGR: Bug!
From Realtime Associates/Sega
Played on Sega Saturn
Also available on PC

Type Sidescrolling platformer
Year 1995

Bug was one of the launch titles for the Sega Saturn for the Ntsc and Pal region.
It was developed by Realtime Associates - the folks behind the awesome 16-bit game Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

Since the 3D was causing some trouble behind the scenes on the Saturn (thanks to its dual-CPUs...) they went for an original way to offer an alternative yet still keeping the experience "3D" and modern at the time.
The game is what some call a 2.5D platformer, in the way it still plays like from a 2D perspective (the "side-scrolling" view), uses various 2D sprites for everything but adds a 3rd dimension to explore.

Starring BUG! in....

You play as BUG, the eponymous hero.
Bug is a movie star. He is about to be in the role of a lifetime, in this upcoming biggest hit!

As the player you gotta help Bug through the various sceneries of this "motion picture".

The evil Queen Cadavra kidnapped Bug's girlfriend, family and "pet" larva. Now you have to save them one by one. And kick her butt! (literally...)
The action starts in the grass, but you'll go through a desertic ground, a nearby lake, an underwater scene, a snowy landscape and finally Arachnia, the lava-filled lair of the Queen....

An epic action-filled thriller!

But I really find the original aspect of the game - the movie-part - not much explored.
Beside some mentions here and there and the CGi cutscenes in-between levels, where we see Bug going from one set to another (camera zooms out and zooms in to show Bug leaving a stage for another).
Speaking of which they weren't much impressive of interesting and nobody talks during those. (on another note, I found the much older/much simpler Wild Woody more impressive on this aspect..)

What about the game itself?

The game plays and feels like a sort of mix between the original 3DO Gex game and the original Sonic 1.
You have to go through these 6 different worlds, each with 3 acts, or "scenes", plus one boss act.
Bug! plays very much like another classic sidescroller.
You defeat foes by jumping on them. The levels are large and offer many paths to the exit. The goal here isn't like the more modern 3D platformers (Mario 64, Spyro the Dragon,..) to explore everything, but really to find a path and arrive safely at the end.
You can finds some secret paths and power-ups to help you.

You'll want to shave off half your hair and set the other half on fire!

Amongst the various items, you can find an electric "Zap Cap" short-distance attack and also a long-distance green slime-item to grant Bug the ability of a poisonous spit - the Spit Wad.

And believe me, you'll need those!
The game is filled with all kinds of dangerous insects! Flying ones, special attacking ones, some appear suddenly, other jump at you, etc.
Bees, mosquitoes, worms, beetles and more!
The best is to memorize and learn their patterns and type of behaviors.

The bosses are huge and each fight is different and will require a unique strategy. (running by the side of the boss, throwing back stuff at them, spitting at them whenever you get the change...)

The levels start actually pretty difficult and the first world will throw at you every kind of foe, trap, obstacles and problem at the beginning!
Seriously, it's one of the hardest game intros I've ever seen! The game doesn't forgive you anything.
Once you'll pass that it will get a bit easier. (particularly the lake and underwater levels - so much easier than the first couple of worlds!)
There's some puzzles here and there, levers to activate, platforms to find/reach and even some moments were Bug will walk up vertical surfaces too!


The game does look lovely visually.
The first world, the grassfield might look a bit boring and simple, but the it looks so much better later on, more colorful and unique.

You can find some secret bonus stages in this game.
Like Sonic 3D Blast, you have to pay a certain fee to Queen Cadavra missing husband - a rasta cool friendly spider(!). You'll need special coins hidden in the level to access those. Usually little timed tests to grab as much Bug! Awards as you can.
And if you collect at least 100 crystals in each stages, you'll access another type of bonus level after the boss stage, more similar to NiGHTS. In these you'll be flying on a dragonfly, going through loops and collecting spheres from a 3D behind the back 3rd person perspective.
These special stages serve to obtain more lives and continues - and believe me, you'll be needing those!

Bug! also contains a very popular cameo.
It's no secret!
In the form of a guest appearance of Sonic The Hedgehog!
That's right!
A little "race" where as usual the goal is collect as many Bug! Awards as you possibly can before Sonic reaches the end of the track.
Pretty fun and silly.

And fitting since Bug! is all about how big of a star he is! (the all-new mascot - as explicitly said in the manual).

Note: I originally feared I had to do this one in one sitting only, with no apparent save system and no password options in the menu. But the game actually saves after finishing each world entirely. And you can even replay levels from a stage select screen!

Overall, a pretty fun and entertaining title.
6 worlds, 3 levels each, find your friends, defeat an evil creepy widow Spider Queen.

The game looks fun even if quite simple.
The 2D characters mesh particularly well with the 3D backgrounds.

The main problem is that it's a very, very difficult title!
For hardcore gamers only - no kidding!
I was stuck for so many hours on the first levels...
It gets easier though.

The game was later ported to the PC by Beam Software.
A 32X port was rumored but never came to be.

It sort of looks like Clockwork Knight at first, but it's nothing alike actually. CK just looks 3D but is quite traditional, where Bug! is closer to a Pandemonium for example.
Bug! actually sold pretty well originally and even managed to get a sequel, Bug Too!

I give it:
 2 / 3 Bruces!

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