The Bug Butcher is the 2D shoot ‘em up that rains bugs from above. The chaos it creates in some moments is reminiscent of bullet-hell games of old, in which the unrelenting torrent of enemies is often enjoyably overbearing. The aim of the game is to eliminate and dodge the attacks of arriving bugs, while (hopefully) defending the Scientist and avoiding death.
The game offers two simple modes, one with a co-op option. The first is Mission Mode that acts as the main story, which you would expect in almost any game ever made, and seems like a good place to start. The Scientist hires Harry the Butcher to clear out an infestation of bugs in a series of labs and elevators. The orange-clad protagonist is arrogant, but knows what he’s doing. He may be unsympathetic to the Scientist’s strife, but the money is good and his gun is true; in fact, when the power-ups stop dropping for the first time, the Butcher quips that all he needs is his gun, ‘ol’ reliable’.
The script is often cheesy, but loveable. You’ll chuckle at how droll it can be, but the dialogue between the Scientist and the Butcher is delivered in text, as their speech is similar to Simlish in that it is nothing but incomprehensible gibberish. Unfortunately, this can get irritating quickly, forcing you to skip the narrative entirely, and therefore losing all the exposition, meaning the levels simply become completed for completion’s sake. The other sounds, music and ambient effects in the game are superb. The music is upbeat and fits the environment of the game well, while the sound effects are just enough to mould the atmosphere and actively help you learn the rhythm of some enemies as they bounce off the floor.
The game has a cartoony style, which suits its charm; I’d describe it as a sticker book. The background rarely changes, and the characters are layered on top, as are the enemies. The living sticker book is colourful and perfect for all ages… assuming you are 12 or over. Combined with the cheesy dialogue and simple controls, we have a light-hearted game that many will enjoy.
The missions offer a solid base in which to learn the ways of the game. Learning the controls is as simple as 1, 2, 3… 4; Dash, Fire, Move, Power-Up. If you master the controls in the campaign, then it’s time to take them to Panic Mode.
Panic is the game’s endless mode, in which you must survive, earn coins, spend coins and survive some more. Lasting until the end of each wave will allow you to spend your hard-earned coins on extra lives, better power-ups and more. The Panic Mode is available in either single-player or in co-op, in which your friend will join you in their blue jumpsuit. It feels like the classic arcade objective: get a high score and look good doing it. In my opinion it’s the better mode, as it is more fun and has none of the annoying vocal sound effects.
Surprisingly, this game does have its controversy. It was initially refused classification in Australia, down to featuring a power-up called ‘Speed’, which involves Harry the Butcher injecting himself with a needle. This had caused the Australian rating board to link the cartoonish game with drugs. I can understand their concerns, but fear that maybe it was blown out of proportion. Nevertheless, the ban prompted the developer to replace it with the hilariously named ‘Boot Juice’, so at least we all got a laugh out of it in the end.
Awfully Nice Studios has created a fun, simple and likeable game. It may have a simple premise, but the different enemy types keep it interesting. Personally, I got increasingly bored during the main missions, but Panic Mode made up for it. For most, this game will be a welcome addition to their PSN library. The game is great value for money and passes the time easily. My advice is to stay under the orange bugs, shoot the blue spiders first, and spend the £7.99 on The Bug Butcher.