Bugs vs. Tanks! is a game that I picked up on the 3DS eShop months ago - maybe even a year ago - when all of Level 5's stuff was on sale. I'm a huge fan of Liberation Maiden, and all of their games were on sale for like $1, so I figured what the hell, I'll give them all a download. I might even play them some day! Well, at least for this game, "some day" came during my sleepless night last night, and I gotta admit, as much as I love sleeping and wish I could have done some of that last night, there are way worse ways to spend a sleepless night.
Bugs vs. Tanks! puts you in the shoes of a German tank commander during World War II (that's right, you actually get to play as the Nazis in this game, although you don't do any really Nazi things). You and the rest of your tank battalion find yourselves shrunk to microscopic size and in a fight for your lives with all manner of typically harmless bugs. Of course, you assume that this is some sort of dastardly Allied superweapon - because why wouldn't you immediately blame your enemies in war? - but then you discover an Allied tank battalion that's also been shrunk, and they assume that it's the result of the some dastardly Axis weapon.
The game is comprised of 40 levels that take roughly five minutes to complete. The first 30 levels are your main story missions; the last 10 are essentially epilogue missions. Those last 10 missions still continue the story from the first 30, but they're very much "extra" in terms of narrative. The narrative isn't really the strong point of the game, though - it's the bug killing. Who hasn't at some point wanted to shoot a giant ant in the face with a German Tiger tank? Or is that just me? Is that weird?
The gameplay works like your standard third person tank shooter. You move and turn your tank with the circle pad, and you rotate your cannon with the Y and B buttons. Holding the L button will zoom out the minimap displayed on the bottom screen. Doing so sacrifices the ability to see enemies on the map, but it does roughly triple the amount of the map that you can see - very useful for finding the off-to-the-side places that often hold hidden upgrade tanks scattered throughout the game. As for firing your tank, there are two modes - Manual and Automatic. If you select Manual, the R button will fire your cannon. If you select Automatic, the AI will automatically fire the tank cannon as soon as you turn it to face an enemy, and holding the R button will prevent him from firing. You also have a machine gun on the front of the tank that will constantly fire at enemies in front of you automatically. The machine doesn't do any actual damage, but it can stun your enemies, giving you the opportunity to fire off another shell or two before the bugs get close enough to attack you. It plays a lot like a cross between Earth Defense Force and Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and absolutely everything about that is a good thing.
There is a co-op mode (I assume only local wireless, not wifi, but I'm not sure), but I wasn't able to test this out. From what I can tell, though, it's much like EDF's co-op mode - you just play through missions with two to four allies, though it seems like the co-op missions in this game are mission that are made specifically for co-op rather than just playing through the campaign with friends. One other feature of note - they're a function that gives you a bonus if you have save data from another Level 5 game on your SD card or system storage (I had a Liberation Maiden playthorugh save on my SD card), you unlock a beautifully gaudy solid gold tank that is much stronger than the first few tanks you unlock, giving you an advantage early on while you learn the feel for the game. It's certainly not a must, but if you like tacky things like me and enjoy being just a little bit overpowered in the beginning, it's worth noting, especially if you've got Liberation Maiden or Crimson Shard on your 3DS (I think there might be one or two other games that are also compatible, but I don't remember for sure).
Bugs vs. Tanks isn't a masterpiece for the ages that pushes the boundaries of gaming norms, but it is a really fun way to waste three or four hours. I'm not sure I can say that it's worth the normal $8 price tag, but if you find it on sale for $5 or less, absolutely download this game. Its simplicity is part of its strength; it's easy to pick up, easy to learn, and loads of fun, especially with the various paint jobs that you can unlock. You can unlock polka dots, hearts, tie-dye, and about a gazillion different camo patterns and colors along with your standard solid color paint jobs (I, of course, played the whole game with the tie-dye). If you're looking for a good time killer for short bursts on the go, look no further than Bugs vs. Tanks!
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.