EnjoyUp! has been building up a strong reputation in recent years thanks to a wide selection of releases all of the utmost quality, showing that impressive products do not necessarily require massive budgets. This latest DSiWare game, Bugs ‘N’ Balls, is actually only published by EnjoyUp!, with the actual coding, design, music, art and sound all done by just two people at a company called CoderChild. Weighing in at a mere 200 Nintendo Points, this bite-sized game is definitely enjoyable fun.
The premise in Bugs ‘N’ Balls is extremely simple, with the eponymous game being the most played in the Bug’s World. Players must choose their preferred creature and then take part in the initial Cucumber League, attaining sufficient success to not only unlock a total of four characters, but also gain access to the professional, Chili League. The aim is to throw all of your balls over to the other side of the arena, dodging ones hurled by the opponent, trying to get everything over to their side before either they achieve such a feat or the timer runs out. Should the latter situation arise, the result is determined by how many balls are on either side, with a win resulting in three points being accrued, a draw giving one, and nothing for a loss.
All the action takes place on the lower screen, but the stylus is only used for menu selections, with the D-pad and face buttons used for launching the projectiles onwards. Each of the four bugs that can be chosen have different attributes, such as recovery speed when hit and how fast their throwing ability is, although this has to be guessed since there is no clear explanation in the game itself, with three seemingly random stat bars on show.
The Cucumber League may initially put players off due to it being quite simple to progress with victory after victory under your belt in the ‘Best Out of 3’ matches. However, the further into Bugs ‘N’ Balls you delve, the more addictive it becomes thanks to an drastic increase in skill level of the adversaries, as well as the Chili League being ‘Best Out of 5’ instead. This is where tactics need to be employed, making sure that you do not get hit, resulting in becoming dazed for a short time, and trying to hit the opposition repeatedly with your balls to keep them dizzy. In-between stages there are some highly engaging mini-games, such as having to hurl objects at targets popping up at the other side of the stage, or even whacking a moving target. In these asides, the key is to not miss completely as the amount of balls at your disposal is limited. Equally, avoiding being hit and momentarily dazed is definitely recommended!
Other than the standard leagues, there is chance to practice skills in a Free Play Vs. mode that allows for play on stages already completed in the leagues. The sad fact is that there are two key elements missing: two-player battles and an online scoring or league system for competing against other players. It is understandable that perhaps those were omitted in order to keep costs down, but they are the factors that prevent this from being the true must-have it could have been. Hopefully CoderChild has a sequel up its sleeve with expanded features, perhaps adding even more inventive mini-games as well. For now, though, it is one of the better games on the DSiWare service at the 200 Nintendo Points mark.
Although the stats of each bug are not clearly explained from the start, the simple gameplay itself becomes extremely hectic and becomes highly addictive very quickly.
Extremely cute artwork throughout, although the actual bugs during the battles are a little less inspiring.
Fun, upbeat music that matches the tense atmosphere during each round.
Unfortunately, the flip side of being so addictive is that everything can be unlocked and completed in a very short time, and the lack of multiplayer or online features holds this back from fulfilling its true potential.
Bugs ‘N’ Balls is yet another fantastic release from the ever consistent EnjoyUp! and yet another product from Spanish developers, this time CoderChild, that proves to be extremely addictive, despite being a very simple concept. Unfortunately there are a couple of elements holding this back, but overall it is a very pleasing effort for its extremely cheap price-tag.