System: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Players: 1-4 players local; 8 players online
Review by: Matt Bosko
Editor’s note: This is a regular column in which Matt Bosko reviews Xbox Live Arcade games. Since XBLA titles are smaller in nature than full-blown retail releases, the reviews are shorter and forgo the Criteria page.
From the creators of Cloning Clyde and Outpost Kaloki X comes a new Xbox Live arcade game, Band of Bugs. Ninjabee’s Band of Bugs is an original strategy offering that pits you and your fellow insects against evil arachnids, flies, beetles and more. Ninjabee is hoping they have a hit on their hands, but will we welcome the pint-sized warriors or be left reaching for the pesticide?
Band of Bugs is a turn-based strategy game. There are several options from which to choose, but the focus is on the story of Maal. Maal is a bug chosen to free his fellow insects by destroying several crystals called “cursed artifacts”. As you progress through the story, new units are made available, some of which include a moth that can turn water into ice so you can walk across lakes, a deadly ninja bee and a one-armed praying mantis. The characters are one of the few high points Band of Bugs brings to the table.
The levels in Band of Bugs are monotonous at best. Each stage looks like the last, while only varying the altitude the bugs can reach. Some levels offer more water or even throw in a bridge to mix up the scenery, but for the most part, the game consists of a dirt ground. Another problem is that after the first few stages, you might find yourself getting bored. As you beat each level, there’s no sense of accomplishment since you move on to a stage that looks much like the last.
The online mode in Band of Bugs differs very little from the single-player adventure. The sole difference is the ability to compete against other players on Xbox Live. One of the cool parts of playing online, however, is the ability to create your own maps and battle to the death on them. The online mode is a nice addition, but doesn’t save the game.
Overall, simple gameplay and uninspired levels make Band of Bugs one of the most uninteresting Xbox Live Arcade offerings to date. Achievements aren’t hard to get, but do take time. I received about 75 points in two hours, most coming in the second hour. I could’ve gotten more, but the game’s lack of a fun factor made it hard to continue. Save your 10 bucks!
Want to see how you stack up against me in this game? Check me out on Xbox Live! My gamer tag is MattBWild11.