Bug Princess review
Cave’s maniac shooters have a fearsome – and entirely warranted – reputation for being among the toughest games you’ll ever play. Yet here, as with other recent iOS ports from the Shinjuku-based boutique developer, challenge does not come at the expense of accessibility. Even the name hints at a desire for inclusiveness: Bug Princess is undoubtedly a friendlier, more approachable moniker than the original Mushihime-sama. A Novice difficulty level should allow even the greenest of players to reach the credits, particularly as a handful of attempts results in the award of extra continues.
Entomophobes, however, may blanch at the authentically repulsive enemies, a collection of chitinous crawlers and airborne arthropods brought to creepy life through animation that will delight as many as it disgusts. There’s a certain grotesque glee in cracking the carapace of a gigantic beetle, a bug-squashing thrill that appeals to the Johnny Rico in us. We’re similarly bent on killing them all, particularly in Maniac mode, which encourages aggressive extermination with a counter that only drops when you’re not hitting anything.
Not that you’ll get the opportunity to examine your enemies too closely, as the majority of your playthrough will be spent with unblinking eyes pinned on your craft’s tiny hitbox, as your finger carefully guides it through magenta-hued hails of bullets. With a welcome option to reduce the size of the play area, your digits needn’t ever obscure the action. The only distractions are the spectacular sky-blue explosions that burst forth with every kill; diverting but, crucially, never disguising the ubiquitous purple projectiles.
It may look chaotic, but this is as controlled as iOS gaming gets. Immaculately calibrated touch controls give you the tools to escape even the most ferocious barrage, while the five stages challenge twitch reflexes, muscle memory and pattern recognition equally. One of the toughest games you’ll ever play, then, but also one of the fairest.