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Bugamon Quest vs. Pepsi Ranger
Bugamon Quest
Bradford & Company Productions
Download: 129 KB
V.S.
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 18 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    Worlds are known for what's been explored, and shrouded in mystery for everything else. But, most worlds are enveloped in the unknown, and completely dark to common reality. Even those places that have been touched by the human eye are merely a small spectrum compared to the overwhelming size of the rest of the lost regions of the universe. Sometimes those enigmatic worlds will briefly enter the spotlight, and teach explorers something new about the way life is. But, sometimes these new earths reveal to the explorer that it's better to leave them hidden in mystery. Such is the lesson we learn from the world of Insectia-the prime region of the Bugamon Quest universe. The brave explorer who ventures into this place will discover a forgotten race of raging reptiles looking to rid their world of the pesky Bugamon-a group of talking insects with the special ability to not only wield swords, but to do it medieval style. Of course, if the explorer examines the scenario a little deeper, he or she will find that the Bugamon are the apparent heroes of Insectia, and that it's the reptiles who must be fought off the planet. And thus begins our story of the relentless killer butterfly named Cutsy, and his (or her) partner in action, the beetle/ant/roach/something-or-other marauder of justice, Mranamon. From the beginning of the story, to the end, these avengers of Insectia must stop the reptile revolt, and restore order to the peaceful existence of the Bugamon. At least, that's the way it would have been if the reptiles hadn't already succeeded in capturing all but these two heroes of the Bugamon race by the third dialogue box.

As cheesy as the story may seem, I'll have to admit that there's some creativity here. When the RPG tradition is to make a story involving a knight and some girl traveling the world from castle to castle smacking things and talking trash to bad guys, it's nice to see a game about bugs from time to time. And no, this is not a Wandering Hamster or Monterey Penguin clone. Those games are too good to be properly imitated. No, this game has a grand scale epic story waiting to be told, but through the feelers of insects, rather than the mouths of knights and penguins. This is not to say that the story is excellent in its creativity because that would be saying too much, but the daring attempt to make such a game is refreshing to a certain degree. And that's just the first stage of the creative process. Another interesting factor that's both related to story and gameplay is the design of the first and only dungeon in the game. Where most knight-based castles and fortresses are designed to be straightforward, brick-layered monstrosities of a structure (in a good way I mean), the fortress in Bugamon Quest is designed kind of like an anthill. That's right, the dungeon maze is as chaotic as an anthill. Frankly, I think that's kind of cool. There is also a degree of simplicity in the game that caters to any beginner who really doesn't want to die in the first five minutes. The frenzy of attacks that both heroes dish out on the enemies can annihilate the competition in a matter of twenty seconds or less, thus making leveling-up fairly frequent, which is much better than the two minute battles that yield eight experience points to be shared by all members of the party that some games offer. It's also nice that the author remembered to put a password protect on the game file.

But, the password is only good for protecting the identity of the contents inside, not the quality that the game is missing so badly. Unfortunately for this game, almost every important element of game design is noticeably poor or absent. In fact because so much of the good things that this game needs are hiding somewhere on one of those unexplored worlds, it would take too much time and space to mention everything, so I'll summarize to the best of my ability. As always, graphics is a good place to start, so I'll start there. The single best word I can think of to describe the graphics is "elementary." The characters look like refrigerator paintings and the tilemaps are stacks of blocks for the most part. The perfect example I can think of is the coastline of both continents (which both has one building with little to no interior each). Normally, one would expect a coastline to have smooth edges, or at least definition, but the coastlines of Insectia are eroded into right angles. There just isn't anything great to say about the graphics. And that's not mentioning the fact that the hero graphics are unfinished. "What?" you may ask. "Unfinished hero graphics? Please explain." Okay, since you asked nicely. The hero battle graphics start out with a decent first frame pose, but when either character goes in for the attack, he flickers a moment. When either character throws a magic spell, he flickers a moment. When either character dies, he disappears. What does this mean exactly? I think it's pretty clear. Even the battle backgrounds leave a lot to be desired, especially since one of them is the default desert background, which gets called up when the heroes are flying in a jet across the ocean. The graphics are decent enough to recognize what most things are, and using cut-scenes to aid in telling the story is a nice touch, but the graphics for the most part aren't worth remembering. The map designs are also poor since all, but the anthill dungeon, are large and empty. Also, the placement of bosses makes no sense because the only boss battle in the whole game is between two cats who suck fire and ice from the heroes, and don't really give a reason for being, other than that they want to stomp bugs. Of course, this is where the story category falls apart because what is made original is not made very well. I won't talk about the music here because it's essentially Wandering Hamster meets Mario Paint (literally Hamster, feels like Mario), and most players can make their own opinions about that. What that leaves left to talk about is dialogue. Believe it or not, the dialogue is not that bad considering the words are all spelled right, but the sequence of events in conversation are definitely telling more than showing. What this means for the characters is that they talk in ways that people (or personified insects) don't normally talk. For example, when two reptiles jump out of nowhere and attack Cutsy in the middle of his conversation with Mranamon about being the last two free Bugamon on the planet (also telling), Cutsy rips them a new one, and then tells Mranamon that he just pushed him out of the way when the reptiles attacked, as if Mranamon's real name was Moron. I understand that this gives a reason to why Mranamon doesn't fight the creatures with Cutsy right away, but it's so poorly executed that the player can't help but to ask "why me?" And these are just a few examples to why this game needs to be completely revised in every way before another update comes out.
Final Scores
Graphics: 1.5/10.0
Although I hate making a big deal over bad graphics, this game is one of the few reasons why it's still important to at least try to make something decent. Maybe if everything else was excellent, the poor graphics wouldn't matter, but this game doesn't have enough to save it from its graphic weaknesses to ignore them. The fact that the hero battle graphics are incomplete make the final score for graphics even lower. The only thing that's really saving it from tanking and blanking is the fact that the graphics exist and are mostly recognizable.
Storyline: 4.5/10.0
Even though I'm very disappointed with the way the story is executed right now, I still think the idea is original enough to deserve some recognition, and for that it gets a point or two more than it probably deserves. I would like to see what becomes of this game if the story shows a lot more than it tells, and if the story actually follows through with what it's starting. All in all, it's not too bad.
Gameplay: 3.5/10.0
The only real comment I can give on gameplay is that it's easy, but unpolished. It's easy because the heroes are basically psychotic when it comes to attacking, since five slashes of the sword still isn't enough. And, it's unpolished because Mranamon's Tornado attack literally stops the game. I'm not saying that it hits so hard that the game freezes and scrambles--I'm saying that the attack doesn't happen. The music still plays, and the screen looks fine, but nothing happens. It's not good when the player has to start over because one attack messes everything up.
Music: 3.5/10.0
I'm not sure what to say about the music, other than that it's unimpressive, ripped from Wandering Hamster (or at least sounds like it is), and that it's amazingly unimpressive. I still think it's worth a few points though because it at least fits the game. It fits the style I mean, not the quality.
Overall Grade: F+
Final Thoughts
    With so many flaws and weaknesses, it's hard to claim that this game is a winner. But I'm gonna call it a winner anyway because we're all winners.  



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