Day 218: Bumblepig

Posted: 2011/06/15 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #218, and today’s game is “Bumblepig”.

Every once in a while a game comes along that on the face of it looks like a casual game, but catches the attention of hardcore games. Tetris. Katamari. Bumblepig seems to be another in that illustrious line, as there’s a lot of hardcore chatter in quiet corners about this 80 Microsoft Point game.

First, from the developer (Kindling):

“Bumblepig is a color-matching twist on the classic top-down scrolling shooter. Help bumblepig pollinate flowers and earn money to buy himself some fancy new clothes. Master the perfect lines through each level to earn top scores and unlock rewards. “

Bumblepig doesn’t defy description, but does defy categorisation. The main game feels like a top-down scrolling shooter, but the gameplay couldn’t be more removed from it with avoid’-em-up elements, puzzle game elements, and more. You pick up pollen, and pollinate flowers. Drop the same colour of pollen on a flower (eg. red pollen on a red flower) for a smaller score; pollinate with a different colour (eg. red flowers with blue pollen) to create a new hue (such as purple in this example) for a bigger multiplier and bigger scoring. Avoid enemies that will steal your money and hurt your multiplier.

Somewhere in the midst of it all a game emerges that calls to you to repeatedly run through it improving your score. High totals require deft dropping of pollen bulbs to replace them with fresher ones, and/or better colours for the next section of a level. It’s also important to learn the best lines through a level to nail the most flowers (and the highest point-total flowers) while avoiding threats. Top-down shooters these days are mostly about “bullet hell”, but while this game doesn’t have a massive expenditure of ammunition it does on the higher levels require surprisingly deft controls and quick reactions. Before long you’ll be literally flying across the level trying to keep up with it all, pollinating, avoiding, and collecting the coins that successful pollination brings you.

Replay value is enhanced not only by shooting for higher money hauls (which doubles as the game’s points) but also by ribbons doled out after each level. If you have a second or third place ribbon, there’s surprising incentive to go back and shoot for a first place ribbon, and something about the game’s presentation makes you really want to earn it. For those who respond to it (I didn’t, particularly), the game also offers a host of unlockables/purchaseables in the form of outfits for Bumblepig.

It’s nice to see a twitch game that is not a shooter, and is all the better for it. In an era of decreasing innovation in retail boxed game discs, it’s wonderful to see increasing innovation on the indie games front, and this game is both worth playing and worth rewarding for it.

Click here to download “Bumblepig”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.


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