RETRO REBOOT | Bugs Must Die (Steam)

Okay, this one is very modern and I'm breaking some rules here, but it earns a special place in my heart. One of my favorite video games of all time, Konami's top-down run 'n gun arcade action title Jackal, a piece of software I've practically spent my entire internet tenure talking about on every platform, including being my first ever let's play video. Bugs Must Die plays like the modern successor I had always wanted.

Developed by Chinese studio DG Games Workshop and seeing a release on Steam in 2019, Bugs Must Die takes the action of Jackal and cranks it up to intense degrees. Running on Unity, Bugs Must Die is incredibly fluid and the retro style pixels look good. The alien worlds upon which you traverse are clean and devoid of clutter. The terrain can obstruct you means of travel and makes it very important to know where you are heading . If you play with a controller, the right analog stick aims your turret. Enemies attack in swarms, so staying on the move and the ability to attack in all directions is very helpful, but one thing I figured out rather quickly it some of the stronger grunts (Mantises, for example) strike with melee attacks. To do this, instead of charging you head-on, they will FLANK you to get in close or move indirectly! This caught me off guard quite a few times, and placed an emphasis on fast defense.

The melee attack you have, which looks like a comically large morning star, sweeps in a 360 degree motion to clear out those that get by your long-range offense. It has a cool down period of about three seconds, so it’s great to use in a pinch, but best used as defense. If playing on keyboards suits your style, switching between you options of main and secondary weapons are a single key press away. For controller users, the D-pad cycles through them by pressing up and down, or left and right respectively.

I’d make a case that this plays like a hybrid of a bullet hell SHMUP title like Darius Twin and The Binding of Isaac. Keeping an eye on where you’re moving is more important than the direction you’re firing.

There is a shop provided to boost your vehicle’s variables, upgrade your weapons, and escape pod. The escape pod is your last ditch effort to complete missions before facing total annihilation. One hit takes it down, but you do move a lot faster. That’s a cool feature, but it can be demoralizing when you survive for so long before meeting a grisly end.

There's no slowdown, but some of the menus and icons across your HUD can obscure your line of fire, since tons of enemies swarm the screen. It can get a little bit cluttered and teeters on the aforementioned bullet hell, leading to some kills feeling rather cheap.

That aside, this is adrenaline pumping retro style action that can keep your gaming reflexes focused. It’s straightforward arcade style goodness at its core, but with enough depth, structure, and customization in all the right areas to provide hours of amusement with a difficulty that’s more than respectable. Bugs Must Die is a cool blast from the past that rekindles my love of Jackal. I recommend giving this one a shot.

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