Boom Bugs is a physics-based puzzler where you use creatures of several varieties to eliminate a common foe, destroying constructions with projectiles and explosions. Sound familiar?
Yep, it’s another Angry Birds clone, the twist this time being that you’re not catapulting your charges towards enemies but detonating them like Mother Nature’s very own suicide bombers.
You don’t flip the all-important switch yourself, however. Instead, you place a succession of creepy-crawlies around the environment, each with its own timer. Some explode immediately, while others wait before sacrificing themselves for the greater good.
Your job is to rid a series of stages of clusters of squatting spiders. The bugs you’re given won’t destroy the grumpy arachnids alone – instead you’ll have to drop them from great heights or squash them with stones.
Ladybirds are your first insect – they’ll simply walk in the direction they’re facing, and blow up when their timer is fully depleted. Then you’ll find bees that fly upwards, lifting beams to clear routes for rolling boulders.
Wasps ascend and explode, caterpillars go boom when struck by objects or arachnids, and walkers perform a similar role to ladybirds, albeit a little quicker. Meanwhile, spiny walkers -that most famous of insects - send spikes flying in all directions when they expire.
Wipe 'em out
The extermination process is harder than it sounds, thanks to the presence of webs and wooden structures that protect the eight-legged freaks. Figuring out the most efficient bug positions is the way to earn three stars – with bonuses awarded for destroying objects as well as enemies, and for keeping bugs alive.
Some stages are cleverly put together, with almost Rube Goldberg-esque constructions as explosions send boulders rolling up ramps, striking wooden slats, and catapulting smaller blocks to topple flimsy structures.
Others, however, seem sloppy and random. There’s an achievement for stubbornness in keeping the bugs where they are for three consecutive turns, but do so and you can easily find a solution that didn’t work on the previous two attempts.
If the apparent inconsistencies of the physics are getting you down, you can splash out the game’s Mighty Eagle equivalent, a large frog that demolishes everything in one go. Not that any stage should keep you stumped for too long.
Boom Bugs’s biggest problem is that there’s nothing original about it whatsoever. In a market heaving with Angry Birds clones, it takes something special to stand out, and there’s precious little sign of inspiration here.
The graphics are just about serviceable, but incredibly bland. The spot effects and music are so forgettable that I had to switch my iPod touch back on to remind myself how the game sounded.
Moreover, there’s no satisfaction to the destruction. Everything feels feeble and flimsy, the explosions are tiny, and the only moderate enjoyment comes in the stages that have cleverly arranged trigger objects to create a kind of domino effect.
It reaches a basic level of competence and nothing more, but as the quality bar on the App Store continues to rise this is the kind of game we’d hope to see less of.
Indeed, perhaps Boom Bugs’s most significant contribution to iOS gaming is to make you realise how much Rovio’s game gets right – even if it’s indirectly responsible for dull doppelgangers like this.