Once in a long while, there's a game that leaves an indelible impression on your mind. It's the type of game that will stay with you for years to come -- so vivid, that you can imagine what the game was like years after without having to have ever replayed it. Needless to say, Escape From Bug Island is one of those games.
"Wait a minute, Brad! The game came out back in late July of last year! Why are you reviewing it now?" Why, that's a good question, nameless reader! I had been asking Eidos for a copy of Escape From Bug Island since May, but they had forgotten to send it to me. Instead, I was sent every other game that Eidos released (including Kane & Lynch), but never Bug Island. So, I attempted to track one down once I had given up on Eidos send me a copy, I ran into a bit of trouble.
Searching around stores, I wasn't able to find the game. In fact, Gamestop had removed it from their listings. Yet, a ray of light finally came last week, when Goozex user yoursisterispretty shipped me the game. Salvation! I finally got the chance to sit down and play Escape from Bug Island. Needless to say, this is a review you must read.
In other words, WELKUM 2 BUG ISLANDZ.
Escape From Bug Island (Wii)
Developed by Spike
Published by Eidos
Released on July 24th, 2007
"Hey guys, I heard about this place called Bug Island. You wanna go camping there?"
"Bug Island? Haven't people, like, never come back from there?"
"Ray, quit being such a pussy."
And thus, Ray, Michelle, and Mike make their way to Bug Island for a little camping trip. As the instruction manual dutifully told us, Ray, the protagonist, has a crush on Michelle, as they go to school together, while Mike is their friend who is too cool for school, or more notably, any sense of caring or friendship. Mike is well aware of the fact that you, Ray, have a crush on Michelle. So, in order to "help," he starts hitting on Michelle, creeping her out. If, say, you try to interject, Mike will just point his shotgun at you. And thus, your love runs off into the untold wilds of Bug Island, and Mike is going to go after her in order to "make out." But not before he teaches you how to fight!
Thankfully, Bug Island has a decently competent control scheme. You use the control stick to aim your attacks either high or low, and the strength of your swing determines how powerful your attack is. I've got a small problem with that, but we'll deal with it later. Shaking the controllers will have you dodge back and forth, or shake off attacking bugs. Well, that's all good and well, save for the fact that Mike will abruptly confess his love for you before the tutorial ends.
Now, armed with your trusted pointed stick, it's time to go off in sear--ohmygod that mantis is eating that man's face! The game's enemy designs stick true to the title of "Bug Island" for about 15 minutes. The insect kingdom is vast and varied, with a myriad of choices to choose from in terms of enemies. So, what do we get? Fish that are straight out of Gyo, attacking from the water, giant toads, and King Kong. The bugs of Bug Island are not really your main concern in terms of enemies -- instead, they tend to just be pests, and nothing more. No, the giant apes and lizard women with their razor vaginas are your main concern.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a slight problem with the controls. It's the fact that the game's hidden agenda is to train people to be abusive spouses. As I had to swing at a praying mantis, or for that matter any enemy that was more than a slight nuisance, I would have to swing the Wiimote rather forcefully. As I swung the remote down again and again, making mock beating motions, I progressively became more and more irritated by the refusal for this bug to die, and took a sick satisfaction once the beating was done with. I had re-asserted my manliness, and showed that bug who wore the pants on this island.
So, as you can see, the game has a target audience built into it. My rage also swelled from an inner hatred of the weapons the game gives you. There's not a marked difference between killing things with a pointed stick and using a lead pipe. The pipe just takes a few less swings (I'm talking about going from 9 to 6 swings or so), and that's about it.
Now, to answer a question: is the game truly unplayable and an absolute travesty? No, but it is one that's severely flawed, and is something to learn from. The game's level design is almost unbearably linear. You have fairly straight trails that will take you from destination to destination, and you'll ocassionally run into a large field within which you need to find an item -- which is never hard to do, considering it's a glowing dot on your mini-map -- and then return it to someone who's too much of a wimp to go out and find these things themselves.
The weapons don't provide enough variety in them, makes things get repetitive much more quickly. There is a slight differentiation in terms of the amount of power and range. Usually, as you pick up more and more powerful weapons, each weapon only takes one less swing to kill some enemies. So, there is an appreciable difference between a hunting knife and a steel pipe, but as you pick up weapons, they're not extremely different from the other things that you have in your inventory, unless it's bug spray or a gun.
How could this game have been improved? Well, my best suggestion would have been to take the game off of its rails and give the player more of a chance to explore around the island. When I first encountered a giant praying mantis, I was actually scared of it when I had to fight it, beause they nearly killed me. For a while after, as I had to walk around, the cries of the praying mantis had me scared, and running for the nearest shelter, while I waited for them to go away. After I got used to him, a new type of monster did appear that would have scared me, provided I wasn't already totally cynical about the game by this point.
Besides that, Eidos' "localization" of the series did not help the game out that much. It's not really Eidos' fault, though, because the game was already bad to begin with, and so they were just trying to make the most fun of the game. Who knows how it could've worked out, but the story was far from the biggest problem with the game.
So, now that this is all over, run out to your nearest store and plop down $30 for Escape from Bug Island, provided you can find it. While the game is utterly terrible, it has that B-Movie sentiment to it that does make you laugh at just how horribly bad it is. It's something to play with friends and have a laugh about, and hopefully you can find the game for a relatively cheap price, so that you don't regret the purchase so much.
Final Score: 3.5
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reviewed by 8BitBrian