xbox live indie game reviews

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Worth the Points

There's a gem hidden in the flowers...

Bumblepig by Kindling Games is not only an amazing game, but it's also one of those shining gems that will be completely overlooked by most hardcore players upon downloading the demo.

"But ARCWuLF," one might say, "you're an idiot! I can tell if I'm going to like a game by the scant few moments a demo gives me. Also I'm peeing in my pants right now." (That's what you get for calling me an idiot!)

You see, you urine-soaked whiner-monkey, this game has a little something called a difficulty curve. Beneath its colorful construction paper veneer lurks the heart of a champion, but if you only play it for three, or ten, or even thirty minutes you won't be able to find it.

The story behind Bumblepig is a strange one indeed. Allow me to paraphrase:

In the deepest reaches of a far-off galaxy, a pig has been bitten by a radioactive bee... or a bee was bitten by a radioactive pig... or... something... and now this pig-bee mutant hybrid has the awesome power to carry vast amounts of nuclear warheads pollen with which it intends to annihilate all sentient life pollinate flowers for cash so that it can buy hats... yeah, I didn't make that last part up.

Anyway, the structure of Bumblepig is a lot like a traditional vertically-scrolling shooter like Galaxian or the more contemporary Ikaruga, but the caveat is that there is no shooting at all in this game. The main challenge in Bumblepig is that you must acquire balls of pollen throughout the stage so that your fuzzy flying freak of nature can pollinate the flowers that litter the stages. Every time you successfully pollinate a flower, it will eject a coin, and some power will be added to a flower meter at the bottom of the screen. As the flower meter fills, the coins increase in value. The amount of money collected throughout the stage determines your score and decides if you can move on to the next stage.

Simple enough, no?

In a word: NO.

While it's easy enough in the initial stages of the game to earn coins and move on, as Bumblepig progresses the stages become much more focused on matching the color of the flowers that you pollinate, stringing them together as you pollinate, and matching the pollen to the correct flowers so that you can earn enough coins to progress. As pollen plants become more scarce in later levels, you are forced to think really fast about your best course of action, and let me tell you, it takes practice!

Complicating matters even further are the games numerous enemy types -- touch one and you will lose whatever pollen you're carrying and have your flower energy depleted. As you have no offensive capability, smooth and accurate flying are your only defense. Unlike a lot of other games, the developers here aren't going to try to hit you with a deluge of cheap enemies. Control is super-smooth and responsive on the left analog stick, every class of enemy is a different size, and all will flash red when you are in close proximity, which means the only way you'll hit them is if you're not paying attention.

The animation in Bumblepig is sparse, but this is hidden in the fact that there is often so much going on that you really don't have time to reflect on it later in the game. In this sense, the graphics aren't any more or less busy than they need to be, and if you stick with it long enough you won't even notice. The coins that you earn in the stages can be used to outfit your pig-bee with various hats and accessories, but you do need to meet various performance requirements to unlock them from the store, so if pointless decorating of your character is your thing (and in this avatar-driven age, whose thing isn't it?) then you have even more reason to keep playing

The sound lets you know, "This is an Indie Game!" This is because individual sounds are sparse, and what is there is really repetitive. There are a few nice audio flourishes, like the tempo increasing and decreasing as you power up the flower bar, but if you want to log some serious time with this game you're going to want to take advantage of the custom soundtrack feature. DEVELOPERS PLEASE: I know that you like to draw and to program, but better than adequate sound design can make a good game great. That's all I'm saying.

So if you're a manly man, a girly girl, or a... um... kiddy kid, give Bumblepig a go -- It is well worth the points!


  • Bumblepig
  • This is a vertically scrolling flying game for one player, developed by...
  • Price: 80 Points
  • Heart_off
    1 Favorite.
    9.3 (Editors: 8.5)
  • flying 2d scrolling color-matching


ARCWuLF (Writers)
I'm a former IT guy, who then became a former retail video...
Member since: 04/27/11
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