Despite the odd name, The Bug Butcher definitely caught me by surprise with its woefully simple, yet deep mechanics that will make you stand up and pay attention, that is unless you want to survive and constantly surpass your previous score and your friends while you’re at it. However the game also begs to ask the question, is it fun to butcher bugs?

Well, is it?

Game Name: The Bug Butcher
Platform(s):  PC

Publisher(s): Awfully Nice Studios
Developer(s): Awfully Nice Studios
Release Date: 1.19.2016
Price:  $7.99

After all the time that I’ve logged with The Bug Butcher, I can safely say that it is indeed very much fun to butcher some bugs. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s rewind back a moment. In The Bug Butcher, you play the role of Harry, who takes his job seriously, yet has the combined attitudes of several infamous games characters such as Duke Nukem, though he definitely has the skills to back up his talk and witty banner. At the onset of the game, you’re hired to help and safe guard a scientist type fellow who’s entire security team has been outwitted and devoured by all sorts of nasty mutated bugs. Luckily for him, he hired the right guy for the job. 

You control Harry by using the fire button to fire a shot straight up as there’s no left and right firing here, only up. In addition you can also dash to either get under a descending bug, to get out of harms way or to make a mad dash to the coins and other helpful items that drop to the ground before they expire. However you can not fire and dash at the same time, and while I wish you could but I suppose that would make the game a bit easy that it already is. If you’re keyboard warrior, you’ll be happy to know you can play this game, despite it’s frantic nature just as well as you could with a gamepad, though I really don’t recommend it.

The game also includes three different modes; Arcade – where the main game takes place, Panic – here you attempt to set high scores within the game and see how to match up with others on the leader-boards and Co-op Panic, which is the same as the Panic mode but with another player along side you. So I suppose that’s actually just two play modes…..

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Game-play wise this game reminds me of Super Pang from the days of the Super Nintendo. In fact it’s damned familiar, however instead of using a grappling hook, you use a variety of lasers, double damage power-ups, freeze rays and many other weapons to make short work of those bugs. And as I mentioned previously, the game-play is fairly simple; you shoot the bugs, they die, repeat until all the bugs are gone and all is well. However for those who want to have a greater satisfaction of the game, there’s also a system that rewards those  for doing more than that. You see, each stage has several objectives and you can achieve those objections by doing various things, such as fulfilling a certain score combo multiplier, not getting hit, collecting a certain amount of stars and so forth. So it does present some reasoning to head back to a previous level that you didn’t do so well on and see if you can rectify that sloppy first, second or hundredth attempt.

There’s even a pretty nifty upgrade system, where after collecting coins that are dropped by those nasty bugs, you can unlock new weapons that you can use on your pursuit of bug butchering. 

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The game looks like it was ripped out of a old school Super Nintendo game, it’s colorful, vivid and the characters, including the bugs, are well animated. It’s pretty damned cute, sometimes a little too cute for me, but still definitely fun. The sound effects are also pretty good, though the soundtrack is a mixed selection and doesn’t rotate until you reached the next level. It had its moments and does fix the game, though many of the tunes felt generic.

Sadly, I’m a bit disappointed with presentation of the menu / selection screen and would have rather a more thought out way to navigate between options instead what is in place now. There’s also no way to change the resolution of the game, screen ratio or anything else other than the button mappings for that matter. For a game to be released without even an option to change the resolution is a huge issue for me and hopefully this overlook will be corrected in a future update.

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Despite The Bug Butcher having so much going for it, you kinda of wish it would last longer than a few hours. It took me about 2-3 hours to be the arcade mode, though it was 2-3 hours of frantic action which I loved and well, there’s no online co-op. Now normally I don’t knock games for not having online co-op but this game is a blast with 2 player local co-op, I could only imagine the sheer madness that online would bring. Lastly I also encountered multiple times during my game-play that sometimes I would get hit from my backside by a bug, even though I have a shot on it. Just seems like there’s a bit of lag in the hit detection, however this can quickly turn a game of “I’m kicking ass” into “Damn, how does that keep happening”.

If this is the first efforts from Awfully Nice Studios, it’s a damned good one. While the Bug Butcher won’t win any awards for innovation, it definitely will with how much fun you’ll have with the same. Simple, frantic, charming and fun are easily the four best words to describe The Bug Butcher. It’s also nice to know that Awfully Nice Studios is constantly fixing bugs (No pun intended) that are found in the game, so it’s also nice to see that they’re committed to making this the best experience it can be.

Bravo on your first attempt gang, bravo!

Pros:

  • Interesting power up system
  • fantastic soundtrack
  • supports both keyboard and controllers
  • It’s so damned cute
  • 2-player local co-op

Cons:

  • No online co-op
  • Spotty hit detection
  • Smashing bugs was never like this
Overall
3.5
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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.