Video Game Rentals Delivered

Band of Bugs (XBLA)

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-02-19 13:22:34

Band of Bugs (XBLA) - Rank C

Developer: NinjaBee
Publisher: NinjaBee
Date: 6/20/07

Also available for PC

Band of Bugs is a turn based tactical game along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea, only nowhere near as good. That might not be a fair comparison for a $10 XBLA title, but I'm of the opinion that NinjaBee never should have tried cramming the genre into a quick downloadable game.

The action adheres to well-worn conventions. Units take turns combating each other on grid-based battlefields. They move, then perform some sort of action, whether it be an attack or a support maneuver. Higher terrain is more advantageous. Striking from the flank or rear is more effective. Different units have varying abilities, from ranged attacks to healing spells. Nothing special here; it's an exercise in "seen it before and it was done better elsewhere" banality. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with the gameplay. It just doesn't do anything interesting or memorable.

So what's the hook? It's definitely not the story. The plot revolves around sentient bugs fighting over land or eggs or something or other. The character designs are cleanly rendered, with just enough personality to not reject them. Just in case I'm not being clear, it's apathy you're sensing. If these elements had been annoying, at least that would have elicited an emotional response.

At least Band of Bugs does make a pair of contributions to the genre: online play and a map editor. Unfortunately, turn based games rarely make for riveting multiplayer fare. As absorbing as your actions might be, enduring other players' turns feels like waiting for glaciers to collide. The editor might be the real draw here. It's simple to use, and could provide hours of tinkering for those who enjoy construction.

Band of Bugs doesn't exhibit any glaring flaws. Rank C is for Competent. Unfortunately, it also stands for Commonplace. There are numerous alternatives that provide similar but superior gameplay and narrative. Unless that map editor is something you want, there's no reason to touch this game with so many Rank A and S masterpieces in the same vein. It's like drinking store brand generic soda, when Coke (or Pepsi for you heathens) is readily available.

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