My Bug
| My Bug

Fancy packing up your cushy life and taking a risk, moving to the big bad city with nothing but a flea-ridden flat to your name? Oh, and did I also mention that you're actually the flea in that flat? If you're thinking that such a move sounds like a pretty sorry prospect, then you're half right. Trying to pick yourself out of the gutter in real life is not an enviable task and, if nothing else, My Bug perfectly replicates the feeling of frustration that no doubt grips folk starting right at the bottom of the ladder.

That's not because it accurately portrays the pitfalls awaiting those of us making our way up from the pit, but because My Bug is an awkward composition of mini-games that attempts some kind of structure but confuses the issue and makes having fun as a flea rather difficult.

In terms of plot, My Bug focuses on flea Jack as he moves to the Big Smoke. From this point onwards, you manage almost every aspect of Jack's life – from when he works to how he spends his money, and even whether the lights in his flat are on or off. The problem is, it's very hard to tell just what you should be doing and when, with the game dropping plenty of hints – or perhaps 'orders' might be a better word for it – but never making it clear just how you go about achieving them.

Your primary concern at all times is money, which you earn by carrying out various jobs and achieving targets, with the jobs themselves actually being mini-games in disguise. Your first job – and, indeed, the only one available to you for some time – is a take on the memory card game Pelmanism (also known as Concentration, or Pairs), where the goal is to match up pairs of newspapers after only seeing them for a 10 second splash.

There's nothing wrong with the activity itself, but you're encouraged to match pair after pair until you soar into the hundreds, Jack seemingly never happy when you call it a day. This drags a game that should last a couple of minutes at best into a ten minute challenge, and it's questionable just how many people will want to play a game such as Pelmanism for this long.

As an aside, there's also little encouragement on offer. It doesn't matter how quickly you clear the board, our friend Jack spends a lot of the time venting his disappointment with you. You can exceed your target, and he still often dismisses you, restricting access to any of the other games until you've completely (and needlessly) mastered it, making piles of money in the process.

It's hardly an ideal form of motivation, but this money is your lifeblood, enabling you to decorate and furnish a fairly drab room, buying curtains, stereos, televisions – anything to lift your little flea's spirit. All aspects of his happiness are measured, and he frequently gives visual clues as to what will make him joyous; from switching the lights back on to putting on his favourite tunes so he can have a dance.

Aside from the job mini-games, there are also a couple of 'fun' sidetracks you can play to put Jack in a good mood, but rather than providing relief, they highlight another one of the game's dodgy traits – its slightly twisted take on the English language. As mirrored in other game modes, the instructions about your goals are slightly fudged, misleading you as to how you should go about play and just what could and should be achieved.

It's this slight yet consistent mishandling of the game's management elements that undermines what is otherwise a interesting take on a mini-game package. Merging the two forms could and should work, but by only handing over the keys to Jack's kingdom under strict conditions, My Bug changes from a beautifully presented (the animation of Jack and the world he lives in is superb) lifestyle sim to a faintly frustrating and stunted mini-game bonanza.

Top marks for effort, then, but the implementation needs a little more work to make this a successful foray into new territory, suggesting Jack's flat could be barren and damp for some time to come.

My Bug

My Bug is a curious offering, initially appearing like an interesting and genuinely forward-thinking take on the mini-game package, but actually playing like a disjointed management title
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.