Buck Bumble

a game by Naxat Soft, and Ubi Soft

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Action

The year is 2010. In rural England everything seems to be fine -- among the humans, that is. In the insect world, things are a bit different. Years ago a poisonous chemical spill contaminated the insects, causing them to evolve into very dangerous creatures over time. They developed weaponry and are planning to take over the garden and beyond. They are known as The Herd. The rest of the insect world is desperate to stop The Herd before it's too late, but is powerless to do so in its current state. They realize the only possible way to stop The Herd is to initiate Project BUCK -- a genetically enhanced bee that would be strong enough to overpower and finish the enemy once and for all. Buck Bumbleis solid, low-flying action that takes you from mission to mission accomplishing against-the-odds tasks in hopes of making the insect world safe once again!

Gameplay

Before starting a real game, it is very beneficial to play the Training mission. The training mission shows you how to restore your life, open Herd doors, teleport, pick up and use other weapons amongst other things. It is also good to play until you get the hang of flying Buck -- which isn't hard at all.

This game plays much like a combat flight simulator except you have MUCH better control over yourself that you would in any type of aircraft. Controlling Buck is quick and easy enough to learn -- Up, Down, Left, Right, Forward, Brake/Hover, and Fire is about it. In addition, Buck can land and walk around and flip or double flip (which turns him 180 degrees).

Whatever you do, don't try to land on water or you'll drown. You also can pick up and use other weapons that have different strengths and switch between them at any given time. Other than the first weapon you start with, all weapons have limited ammunition. The enemies are not excessively difficult to destroy by themselves, but when you get a horde of The Herd, watch out. Many different types of creatures make up The Herd and each has their own weapon and attributes to make your life sting. Amongst these enemies are Dragonflies that fire pulse lasers at you, Giz Beetles and Ants which fire acid at you from the ground and Killapillas (giant caterpillar-type insects) pop out of the water and fire deadly volleys from their twin mounted plasma cannons. In addition, there are turrets mounted on walls and out in the open to help try and bring you down.

The trick to staying alive is to keep moving and pick up droplets from flowers (which restore your life meter). There are many times in the game when simply not destroying the enemy troops, but rather flying to and taking care of your objective is preferable. In fact, if you take care of your objective before the bonus point timer runs out, you'll get a higher bonus. Did you say bonus points? Yes, there are a few games left where you can actually score points and this is one. Points are actually pretty important to score as you get an extra life for each 10,000 points you score -- and believe me, you will need those extra lives for later levels. Points are also scored by eliminating enemy insects and by picking up point icons floating about in various places.

This game supports the Rumble Pak so when you bump into something, including shots or acid fired at you, you'll feel it. There are a variety of missions themselves from scouting for enemies to seek and destroying radar dishes and outposts, to defending your home base from The Herd. Fortunately for you, this game also supports the Controller Pak so you can save your games between levels. If you are using both the Rumble Pak and Controller Pak, the game will prompt you to swap them when appropriate.

Graphics

The graphics are colorful and nice to look at. Since you are a bee in this game, you'll notice everything is a lot bigger than what you, as a human, would consider normal. There are various objects and obstacles that get in your way: mushrooms, plants, shovels, benches, and walls. Since the whole war is not fought in the garden, you'll also get to see the beautiful grime and sludge on the sewer and pipe walls as well as the chemical pollution flowing along. And since you are a bee of action, you will get to see acid splattering on the walls, explosions of tank-like insects and outposts, and the soft glow of both the sphere around items waiting to be grabbed and the Herd gates waiting to be opened.

Audio

Interesting and quite upbeat. The music in this game is a combination of techno, rap, and reggae. It isn't that loud by default (during the game anyway) so you can actually concentrate on the mission at hand. I was pleased with the sound effects. When you shoot down a flying enemy, it sounds like a plane going down rather than some squeal-like sound you might expect. Also the background sounds in the garden, such as birds chirping, are a great addition.

System Features Supported

  • Rumble Pak, Controller Pak

Documentation

There isn't much to say on this one. It's a manual. It explains and shows you generally how to play the game. Ten pages of real quick reading that you could pretty much figure out on your own just by playing the game. In fact, there are many things you will only learn by playing the tutorial in the game. Still, what's there is well-written should you decide to read it.

Bottom Line

In a world where games are all starting to be as realistic to life as possible, it's nice to see that some real imagination still exists. Buck Bumble is like no other game I've ever played. Although the mission objectives may be like some other games, the premise, characters, environments, and gameplay are very original and fun. The controls are quick and easy to learn and although challenging, the game is not overly hard which is why it is my pleasure to give this game a score of 95.

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Buck Bumble Downloads

Nintendo 64 Buck Bumble download

First-person bee shoot-'em-up. Nice idea but dogged by ropey visuals.

reggie posted a review

Buck Bumble has been a long time in production. What started life as a project at Argonaut Software to test the capabilities of the N64 has now evolved into a massive 3-D shoot-'em-up.

The premise behind the game is that the next great threat to the Earth wilt come not from space, but from somewhere far closer to home, quite literally from our own back gardens. A strange new mutant form of insect-life -created a by toxic spill from a long-abandoned chemical plant - is out to take over the planet, destroying anything that stands in its way.

While we humans are as yet unaware of the threat looming right under our very noses - or in this case, feet - the insect population is only too aware, and they've set out to put things right. Defying all evolutionary predictions, the insects have developed their own technology and created a superenhanced cyborg bee codenamed 'Buck' to go up against the forces of what has come to be known as the Evil Herd.

Which is where you come in, assuming control of the aforementioned feisty rotund cyborg. Before you can say "Bumble... Buck Bumble" you find yourself thrust into a warzone populated by all manner of weird and wonderful entities - all of whom want to kill you!

Deja Vu All Over Again?

The visual similarities between Buck Bumble and a certain fox-related game in the stars are immediately obvious. However, gameplay-wise the two titles are worlds apart.

To start with, the character of Buck is free roaming. He can fly in any direction he likes, and so the game is a lot less linear than the main Starfox mode. The game designers have made the most of this freedom to set up complex puzzles which Buck must solve to progress through the game.

Each level in Buck is mission-based, with a briefing at the start of each to outline the objectives and point out important features. Occasionally during the course of a mission, the briefing may be altered by your commanders back at HQ in reaction to developing events, at which time Buck just has to wing it!

Initially missions have fairly simple objectives such as 'fly to here and shoot this'. All too soon, however, they become more complicated as the playing areas get bigger and the enemies and enemy installations get more prolific andmuch meaner. You'll find yourself being ordered to assassinate a specific class of insect, only to then be ordered home because your base is under attack. Or you'll be sent to plant a nuclear device in heavily defended enemy territory, a task made more difficult by the problem that your bomb explodes if hit by a stray shot or bumped against anything. One mission involves tracking down and capturing baby members of the Evil Herd for research, and the little critters are so cute you almost feel bad for zapping them!

One Bad Mutha...

Initial previews of Buck promised a fast-paced, challenging shoot-'em-up that would really force players to think, and that's exactly what's been delivered. The intelligence of the enemy insects increases as you progress through the game, enhancing the overall trickiness of the missions

The actual mission structure in Buck is well developed, with a fairly steep learning curve. This should please those people who are sick of buying an N64 game and finishing it by the end of the day. That shouldn't be the case here, though the fact that you can save the game at the end of every level does make things a bit easier.

Buck is rather strange in this respect, as initially you get three lives, and yet when you die, the mission resets and you must do the whole level from the start. This means that there is no advantage to, say, being on level four with one life against being on level four with seven lives. If you die, either way you must restart the level from scratch, so having lives just doesn't help. If extra lives could let you carry on a partially finished mission from where you died, then that would've made more sense.

A Problem Of Clarity

While we're on niggles, it'd be best to get the most important one out of the way - the fogging. If you've played Turok then you should know what to expect. Everything a certain distance from Buck is obscured by blue fog. This is particularly bad on levels that are very open, which fortunately isn't most of them. Levels that are more enclosed (like the sewers for example) hardly suffer at all. The fogging is a shame, because visually it can make it difficult at times to work out where everything is - annoying when you're trying to find something in the middle of a battle!

That said though, the fogging is the only thing which can really be faulted in Buck. The character control is excellent, with Buck flying, twisting and looping expertly in response to each touch on the analogue stick. The most useful move Buck has is the hover, which allows you to halt in mid-air and is essential if you're trying to hammer small or fast-moving targets as it makes it far easier to orient your sights.

The enemies in Buck Bumble are very varied, with good Al and some nasty weaponry, particularly on the later levels. Fortunately Buck himself packs some pretty awesome hardware -collected during each mission - and some of the weapons have to be seen to be believed!

The mission structures have obviously been well planned and a lot of time has been spent on the plots for each level, making you feel that you really are a grunt in an insect army striving to save the world from the forces of evil.

Buzz Ball Action!

The lack of a four-plgyer Battle mode is a little disappointing, and the basic two-player mode is uninspiring, simply because the bees move so fast that it's difficult to really slug it out with each other. However, the excellent alternative Battle mode, Buzz Ball, more than makes up for this, and should keep footie fans and non-footie fans alike going for quite a while. Did the inspiration for Buck perhaps have anything to do with the fact that the game was being finished off during the World Cup?

One final thing to mention is the music. Rather than the usual cutesy Mono-esque tunes, Buck sports a funky, speed garage soundtrack which seems strange at first but soon grows on you.

So, once again the N64 comes up with a winner! Yet another top N64 game must be a bit of a shock to all long-term owners out there, but if future N64 games are near anything like the standard of Buck Bumble, then the future of N64 gaming looks very bright indeed!

reggie posted a review

Mission-based shooter with a cyborg bee as hero. Plenty to do and nice characters, but not as frantic as it could have been.

reggie posted a review

Dodgy graphics and unconvincing controls, but not the worst shoot-'em-up we've ever played. Try before you buy.

On the D-pad push Left. Right. Up and Down and hold for two seconds. Then push Right. Right. Left and Left for infinite weapons.

reggie posted a review
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