Sunday, March 16, 2014

VGR Escape from Bug Island

Or more precisely, "Escape from Crazy Island"!

VGR: Escape from Bug Island! aka Necro-Nesia in Japan or simply referred to as Bug Island sometimes
From Spike/Eidos Interactive
Played on Wii
Also available on /

Type Survival horror
Year 2007

And here we are back with yet another Survival Horror title!

Escape from Bug Island is a little B-Movie-like budget game developed by Spike and distributed by Eidos outside Japan.

Originally known as Necro-Nesia, it was changed to the catchier "Escape from Bug Island" to attract fans of old school B-movie monster films and other horror serials.

Don't expect something close to the Wii's own most popular title in the genre, Resident Evil 4 and the likes. This is a much sillier game with a much simpler concept behind it.

With that being said...  What is the game itself all about?

Our story opens with a group of kids arriving on the eponymous "Bug Island", aka the Isle of Beelzebub.

You play as Ray. Ray hates insects. He's gonna love this island!

Ray only came to this island to both impress this girl Michelle and finally try getting close to her to ask her out. His pal Mike also came along, because he's a douche and only purpose in life is to mess with Ray. And for some reason, he just can't stop pointing his shotgun at Ray... Sheesh!...

Long story short... not actually it happens right away, after sitting for two seconds in front of a fire as soon as they arrive on Bug Island, Michelle and Mike go missing...

Now it's up to you - as Ray, the insect-fearing hero! - to go run in the woods in the hope to find your buddies and Escape from Bug Island!!

Escape from Bug Island is not a revolutionary experience by any means.
It's your usual post-RE4 formula. Meaning a third-person survival horror.

You start with only a tree branch to defend yourself, but will collect several other weapons over the course of the game. Mostly melee weapons to fight for your life against all these squishy mutant insects. Staffs, swords, poles, lances,..

By pressing on the A-button you can also use a first person view which is both useful to see your surroundings and attack with rocks, sandbags, grenades and more!

Later in the game you will get better weapons to attack the creatures. Your friend Mike will go down with his shotgun, but you will have another opportunity to get it later on... You will finally come across a revolver. And make dynamite with explosive ants(!).

For the most part it's a fairly traditional and classic survival horror game with very little scares, but more trouble with the hordes of insects getting the better of you.

The item menu has no limit, and Ray doesn't drop anything the entire game. Meaning by the end you might have several screens worth of keys and health items. Mushrooms are Bug Island's main "health packs", they come in several colors and shapes with some varying degree of regenerative abilities. But you can also find food cans in houses and fruits on trees!

The game is broken down into smaller "stages" as each area ties into the next. BUT similar to an open world game, you are actually free to backtrack, go back to any previous area. Some maps split into several smaller areas.

Like an arcade game, score also has a big part in this game as you get a Ranking for each area, depending on your kills, gem shards found, etc. You also get some hidden in-game "achievements" by beating some specific tasks such as killing a dozen mosquitoes, finding a half dozen mushrooms or destroying 50 boxes.

Finally you can find some pages of Michelle's favorite book - the Necro Notes!
Those both tell backstories for the island and previous inhabitants - think Resident Evil - and some hints to the current situations you are in.
It seems some people went through the exact same situation as Ray and his pals.. Losing their best friend to a giant spider, and their girlfriend to the caves nearby... Mmmh.. I wonder if that comes into play later on...

Besides all the giant mutated bugs from flies to praying mantis and giant moths and beets, you also get several boss fights with some far stranger creatures. Ray will have to fight a King Kong-like giant gorilla several times (who runs off just before you go for the kill) because.. huh... There are always giant gorillas on islands in fiction! Duh! And a boss in a mini-desert in the middle of the island (!!) with a Tremors-like giant worm! Complete, with shaking ground, explosives and a death-by-the-cliff! A giant spider that turns out to be far less impressive than expected. Beelzebub himself which the island is named after (the most "Japanese" monster of the entire game.. the less said the better)! And let's not forget a guy who turns into The Fly.

But there also some random surprise in Bug Island, such as the Amazonian Lizard Woman (... no, really. That's their name in-game!) and those Dog-Man-Mole-Thing creatures... Oh, the nightmares...

It's not exactly the designs and the creatures that get you. It's the idea of them. At least on the sound department it's all good.

Because the execution itself leaves a lot to be desired.

Simply put, Escape from Bug Island has some pretty simple almost dated graphics.

Somehow I can imagine this running perfectly fine one my beloved Dreamcast. It's almost as if this was a long-in-development older title resurrected for the Wii.

The game makes use of fog for the atmosphere... and hide the graphics AND the backgrounds. By using your light (you will get a flashlight at the start but a better light much later on) you can see some nice simple lighting effects. But that attracts more insects. So it's almost better to play completely at night, with the fog hiding everything from you.

It's doesn't really use much of the Wii processor, but it doesn't look particularly bad for the system as well. It's simply the strict minimum at work.

It's also the only game I've every been asked if I wanted to use the Nunchuk and Wiimote left-right, or right-left.

You attack by swinging the remote. There are some times where you will have to waggle to keep your balance. Simple stuff.

The characters look decent, but the hordes of bugs and other random creatures are either way to simplistic or cartoony.

It reminds me of those direct-to-video creature films crossed with an anime!

The game starts a bit slow, almost boring. You really need to be captivated or force yourself into the game at first.

The first couple of levels really test your patience. And it actually takes some getting used to to get the hand of these sloppy controls.


It gets a bit better! You get in the Cave of Time! And it becomes a time travel story!

Surely Ray will use his knowledge to prevent everything from ever happ... there they go. Mike and Michelle got lost all over again! Why didn't you stop them Ray?!?

Oh well. At least your second play through Bug Island carries your entire inventory and revealed Maps! The second time is a breeze, and much more fun thanks to your knowledge of future events!

Will Ray prevent every death?! You bet!

It's a cheesy B-movie game. The game becomes much more interesting and fun the second time you go through it (and there's a quicker third time, backwards, for the boat at the end...).

Kind of bad and off-putting at first. It's also entertain and just bizarre.

Escape from Bug Island is not particularly long despite the story making you go through it 3 times in the same settings.

Overall, not bad. All in all it's fun to experience it at least once.

But certainly it won't be breaking any new grounds in terms of graphics and gameplay.

A lot of people like to call it one of the "worst games on the Wii" without even checking it out for themselves. But it's kinda decent, far from a great game mind you. 

The only real shortcomings are the lazy visuals (not bad, just plain "lazy"), how really easy it is and the fact it's so short.

Pretty decent if generic "little game".

Once time travel gets involved, it gets much better on the second "run".

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Quacks!

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