Developer: Buddy System
Genre(s): Adventure, Indie, Platformer, Puzzle
Platform: Xbox Series X (also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Linux, Mac, PC – Microsoft Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 26/11/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
The colour palette and animation style in the trailer for Little Bug are what attracted me to reviewing this title. Did they keep me captivated throughout my time with this game? What else did it have to offer? Find out in my Rapid Review below.
This review is a little different to other reviews I’ve written. I got to a point with Little Bug where I found myself stuck for a long time, and where what the game promised ahead couldn’t motivate me to keep plugging away at it. Therefore, I’m not writing this review from the point of view of having finished the game. Whilst I do enjoy some platformers, it’s not my favourite genre and nor is it the one I’m most skilled at.
Although I think this game is aimed at a different audience than myself, I did find things to like about it and aspects that entertained me. So, I’ll share my experience with the game from that perspective and say right from the beginning that I don’t think Little Bug makes a good entry point to the genre, it’s more of a game for seasoned platformers or those looking for a challenge.
One thing that may have influenced the difficulty of the game for me is that I play most games with the right stick inverted. This is usually for shooters where this controls the camera or aim. I know, I know, I can hear some of you sighing already. I think this comes from Starwing being one of the first games I spent hours and hours playing. It just made up into down, and down into up in my brain.
In Little Bug you control two characters at once, one with each stick. With the left stick you control Nyah, she moves left and right but can’t jump without assistance from her light companion, which you control with the right stick. By placing the light companion in the correct place and pressing the right trigger, Nyah can navigate obstacles by swinging and jumping.
Moving the light orb with the right stick using my normal style of controls felt like an effort whereas usually invert feels natural. It did get easier as I played but only up to a point. I did try using non-inverted controls, but for me this was even worse. Alas, I couldn’t undo my habit of inverting everything possible since the PS2 and GameCube era.
So, if you’re also fond of inverting, it might be worth bearing this in mind. But then again, you might just be better at this style of game than me!! I think it’s fair to say here that (regardless of inverting the right stick), for some players, having to control two characters in this manner does increase the difficulty from a more basic platformer, where the emphasis is on timing the jumps of one character.
At the beginning of Little Bug there is a little story intro and I do feel that this would be developed at the end of the game to give a conclusion. However, it’s not a main focus of gameplay. Things start simple and gradually more controls and obstacles are introduced, making the game increasingly more complex. At first you make Nyah move left and right, later you combine her movements with the light orb to avoid moving obstacles that will end your go if touched.
Checkpoints are quite frequent, which is a positive for maintaining momentum. There are collectibles in the form of lunch box items, these sometimes require you to deviate from the main route. I liked the inclusion of a quirky cat to offer these items to at a kind of altar. Once collected and offered, in the main menu these items give access to bonus levels. I found these significantly trickier than the main game.
Sometimes it’s hard to see a route through a section because you can’t see too far ahead. The times when you can see the path forward are often only when you’re trying to navigate the section before. This adds to the difficulty of progressing because you can’t easily plan your way through some bits. It does mean that some parts of the game ask you to rely entirely on your reflexes and muscle memory for the controls. Not something that I think is too difficult with one character to control, but with two this gets tricky.
Visually, I found a lot to love about Little Bug. I liked the contrast of the dark backgrounds with neon pink and dazzling light blue. The vibrant, over-sized full moon gave an otherworldly atmosphere to gameplay and the silhouettes of mountains and pine trees created a desolate-feeling landscape to navigate. The use of consistent colours which have a good contrast with the backgrounds made it easy to identify obstacles.
Whilst the music during levels was fairly repetitive, I found that it melted into the background. In some sections, the steady beat could be helpful for steadying my overzealous right hand to create a rhythm to swing Nyah to safety. Some elements of the tune drew my mind to thoughts of space exploration and adventure on alien planets. These aspects were also present in the more upbeat melody on the main menu. I’d have liked it if this tune featured throughout the game as well as being in the title menu.
On the one hand, the controls were quite simple as there weren’t many buttons to remember. Although on the other, mastering these dual character controls did prove quite difficult at times. Ultimately, I think this is largely where the challenge lies for players.
Although I didn’t finish Little Bug, I’ve still given it a rating below. I’ve based this partly on my experience playing but also on how I think it stands up overall for its intended audience. I do think it has a lot to offer for those looking for a challenge, both in the main game and in the bonus levels. It has a promising story, although this takes a backseat to the platforming gameplay, and Little Bug is a game that looks great. My only caveat would be to say that I reckon it’s aimed at the more experienced platformers among us, so I’d bear that in mind if you’re tempted to buy.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can buy Little Bug in the Microsoft Store
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.