You certainly can’t accuse Keiji Inafune of failing to practice what he preaches. His desire for the Japanese games industry to take more creative risks is well documented, and he’s leading by example in Bugs Vs Tanks. After all, few studios would dare to cast a battalion of WWII Nazis as the good guys, even if it does then shrink them to the size of ants before forcing them to face off against a range of insectoid opponents.
A B-movie idea like that needs a convincing enemy, and the mini-beasts are generally well realised: large, detailed, and benefitting from some excellent 3D. What a pity, then, that they’re not more entertaining to fight. They simply shuffle around, bumping awkwardly into your panzer, with little sense of weight to their animations – or, indeed, to the ordnance you deploy to shake them off. If the aim was to recapture the destructive frisson of Earth Defence Force, say, it’s an unqualified failure. A weedy rattle of machine gun fire has no tangible effect, while shells – fired manually or automatically when an enemy is within distressingly short range – are sluggish and weak, even with explosive splash damage.
Levels are claustrophobic, consisting exclusively of narrow tunnels and more open areas filled with human detritus. As such, exploration feels clumsy and laboured, and it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by a swarm, bumped from wasp to ant and back, stun lock preventing you from firing again as your health bar steadily depletes. We didn’t expect high art, but criminally, Bugs vs. Tanks doesn’t even offer low-budget thrills.
Bugs Vs Tanks is out now on 3DS.