A game reviewer for several years, Jordan reviews games from any era. They tend to ramble about game design and archiving old media.
I am reviewing this game for the actual game as opposed to ALONG WITH the collectibles in the pack, considering that I was sent this digitally and am unable to assess the quality of items inside.
However, I will show an image of what the First Press Games release comes with, considering that the game itself on physical, is a collectible.
With that out of the way, let us take a look at Shadow Bug.
The story is honestly a little hard to talk about. On one hand, it is simple and is shown through the loading screens, which I find is a very nice way to tell a simple story. But on the other, talking about the story at all will also just spoil the whole thing, considering the games length, which we will get to later.
In honesty though, this could have had no story at all and just been a game about a little bug fighting monsters and I still wouldn't have complained. The gameplay is more of the focus on this one.
The graphics and sound are my favorite parts of this game. The visuals are well crafted, the levels are distinct with colors showing what is dangerous, and what is not. On top of the ideas behind color, the environment backgrounds look like paintings most of the time and I wouldn't be surprised if they were perhaps hand drawn.
Overall the in game elements took a simple approach, make the main character cute and cuddly, and the dangerous things sinister and distinct. This feels like the same amount of work you could see in an animated short, and I can't tell you enough how much I liked it.
Swords make swishes and cut noises, levers and other interactive items all sound the way they should. The sound effects again just struck that note of do NOT go overboard. And again it works, because 90% of the time the only thing you will really listen to is the soundtrack.
The soundtrack is well crafted, when I first heard it I was hesitant that it would either sound the same over and over, or that it would be grating. The game had the initial look of a short quickly put together game to be sold and I will admitted my expectations were very very low.
But the game surprised me in all of the elements that make a game a game! The music is softer when not much is happening, or cheerful when choosing stages. Then it begins to kick up a small amount everytime the game difficulty intensifies. It really does a good job of making you feel like you are on an adventure and it is very enjoyable.
(So enjoyable they put the soundtrack on a disc, so that makes sense!)
The worst part of the gameplay is the motion controls, but, I also couldn't see this game working any other way. And while I excuse motion controls for what it is, it also made the game a little harder than it should have been.
You play as a little bug dressed as a ninja who goes from level to level fighting bosses and solving puzzles. The game is simplistic in design but that makes the game slightly addicting. Example being, when I first booted it up I planned on only play through the first couple levels then working on something else for a while...I played through almost the entire game!
You use one hand to move, and the other hand controls the little bug that flies around you as a cursor you can point at enemies and attack them. Our little bug is not able to jump and can only proceed through the level by attacking enemies to use them as platforms to get to higher platforms in the levels. It seems weird to play a game that doesn't allow you to jump, but it works and make the game even more engaging. Every boss has a specific pattern and weakness that must be exploited to win.
I often caught myself saying "the levels are short, what harm is there if I play just one more?" Which then proceeds into, "Oh no, I have been playing for hours to get a high score on one level!"
Not too hard and not too easy, most of the time.
Right from the beginning it showed off the earliest basics in the game, moving, attacking, and generally teaching you want you need to know on the minimum level. However, the problem does pop up a few times in the game where the difficulty unexpectedly jumps and leaves you feeling a little confused until you can adjust.
Now I will have to admit that I am not a fan of motion controls, and the game does have an option to play the game handheld, and just touch the screen to attack instead of pointing the cursor at foes. But as I would assume many people would like to play something like this on their TV, and playing it in handheld felt a tad cumbersome, some of my own difficulties could have been general problems with the motion controls.
Don't let it put you off though, when it works it is exciting and very fun, and if you are used to motion controls you could probably adapt much quicker than I did in the end.
The best way I could describe it is "Easy to learn, hard to master."
This game was obviously designed with the idea of going back and grabbing the stars, collectibles, and finishing the level as fast as you possibly can. It also includes leaderboards for each level to show off your skills and to try and prove you are the best of the best.
Replay value is high in this one, and I am certain speedrunners will feel right at home.
Overall it is a very fun and enjoyable adventure with a little Ninja Shadow Bug guy and that is all it really needs to be.
It is pretty cheap when bought digital, and I honestly would recommend this game physical if you really like these kinds of games, or enjoy physical releases (I know I do, I mean I am a VGArchive!).
Motion controls can be annoying
Colorful and vivid art
Unique ideas in a saturated market
Occasional odd difficulty spikes
Grab it physical on "First Press Games"
© 2020 Jordan Yenney