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The Insect With An Attitude!

Bug!, that gnat-brained animated hero, debuts in his first PC game. The insect with an attitude gets the starring role in a real-time 3D adventure just crawling with bugs. Guide Bug! through 6 Island Kingdoms - with 18 infested levels - to save his multi-legged friends before they're eaten for lunch! The ultimate mission: get to the showdown at the evil widow Queen Cadavra's web without getting squashed!
  • 18 Real-time 3D levels with awesome play mechanics
  • Easy to Play for all ages with 2 levels of difficulty
  • CD quality audio & digitized voice make Bug!'s attitude even more entertaining
  • Cool power ups - Spit gobs of bug juice in 4 fun flavors at your insidious insect enemies
  • Customized for the PC: play in windows of full-screen mode.
  • Incredible SGI-rendered movie sequences
  • Tailor graphics for peak PC performance with 4 resolutions, including hi-res.
~ from the back of the box

At the point when 3D gaming was the new thing in gaming, platformers were the most popular. As such, developers scrambled to create their own fully rounded mascot to take advantage of the technology. It was around this time that we got the underrated Jumping Flash and the overrated Bubsy 3D, each an interesting play for vastly different reasons. Unlike their rivals at Nintendo, SEGA struggled to gain any ground here with their flagship Saturn console never seeing a mainline Sonic game. Regardless, over a year before Mario 64 showed us how it was done, they came up with one of the earliest examples of a 3D platformer; Bug!

Being a long-running third-party development house, US-based Realtime Associates managed to foster a close working relationship with SEGA. Along with creating several popular multi-format games, their line-up of licenced educational titles for the Pico helped turn the niche console into a success. As such, they were chosen be one of SEGA's "Tiger Team" receiving dev kits for the Saturn relatively early on. They were also tasked with creating a 3D Sonic game and put in a lot of work into it before Sonic Team suddenly became protective with the IP choosing to keep it in-house. We all know how Sonic Xtreme turned out.

Being a bug, Bug can walk on walls and ceilings if the stage allows it (left).
Find a coin to pay Daddy-O Longlegs and enter a secret stage (right).

Instead of letting all that effort go to waste, Realtime tinkered with what they had and turned it into Bug!. The insect with attitude had the gnarly gross-out humour that was all over the 90s. He spat green goo, coarsely wisecracked and loved to shake his thicc booty at the camera. I remember being impressed by the CGI animations at the time, thinking it looked like the future. Coupled with the insect-sized Hollywood studio setting (and Panzer Dragoon), it almost convinced me to ask for a Saturn over a PlayStation that Christmas (I would receive neither). I wouldn't play it until I somehow acquired a random CD-of the PC port many years later.

Nowadays, we wouldn't really call Bug! a fully 3D platformer. Both he and all of the enemies are made up of pre-rendered sprites and the levels are all orthogonally designed mazes suspended mid-air. The camera remains facing in the same direction with no option to change it and there's very little in the way of freedom of movement. The stages channel you through single-width platforms, plonking enemies and obstacles in your way to the park bench "Bug Stop" that marks the end.

The bosses are imaginative, but take way too many hits to kill (left).
Ride the Dragonfly Express between worlds for extra points (right).

Our exoskeletal hero has a number of moves at his disposal. His main form of attack is the butt bounce, further displaying his obsession with this body part. It can take one or two stomps to squish an enemy, but most of the time I found it just as good to jump over them. Later on, if he collected enough Spit Wads, he can hock a loogie to attack from a distance. Even better, find the Zap Cap and get a more powerful attack. Build up static through you antennas to make light work of even the most hardened of creepy crawlies.

That's not all of the collectables, though. The most plentiful are the Blue Crystals. Collect 100 of them in at least three of the five levels that make up each world and you'll get to play a mini-game before moving on the next area. Here, you'll pilot a dragonfly through rings to collect more things that equate points or even lives. Other special stages include those accessed by the cool Daddy-O Longlegs who will be staged at certain points of the level. You need to find a special coin first, but these are the best places to score extra lives. And you're gonna need as many of them as possible.

Unlike the console version (which may come late), the PC port is disappointingly lacking in documentation. Outside of a basic pamphlet to reiterate controls and installation, all information about the game is found using the in-game help menu. This is accessed using the menu bar in the game's window, but first you'll have to exit full-screen by pressing F4 (not Ctrl-F4 that controls the DOSBox fullscreen, just to confuse you). It always starts in a window just to reiterate this fact. A lot of early Windows games were like this, and I never really liked it. It doesn't compare to an actual sub-menu.

Access the menu bar in windowed mode. Can you find the secret cheat menu? (left).
You will also find useful information here that should've been part of the manual (right).

While I can't help but be enamoured by the world of Bug!, I can't deny that there are glaring issues with it. It's not in its programming - it is remarkably polished with minimal bugs of the digital kind - but in the difficulty. The game spikes all over the place testing all but the most ardent of gamers to see the end. Even when it's not so difficult, the maze-like concept offers little variety even when switches and light puzzling joins the fray. These levels are huge, with space between checkpoint often feeling like a whole stage in and of itself. Even if you clicked with the difficulty of it, the long stages do test your patience - especially if you want to explore all nooks, crannies and multiple routes. The camera is a little zoomed in for my liking, meaning danger appears suddenly to challenge my aging reflexes.

For its time, Bug! wowed almost everyone who saw it. It was one of the main reasons to get a Saturn. By the time Nintendo showed what could be done with Mario 64, it seemed old hat. People moved on and the Saturn failed. Had this been a Sonic game as intended, I don't know how SEGA would've fared. It's too slow and methodical for that super-speedy hedgehog but with an in-your-face bug at the helm, there's still enough old-school fun to be had.

To download the PC game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual Included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.

File Size: 399 Mb.  Install Size: 611 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


To download the SEGA Saturn game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber Retroarch with the Mednafen Beetle Saturn core to emulate the SEGA Saturn. X-input (X-Box) and select other controllers supported. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 212 Mb.  Install Size: 358 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ




Bug! is © SEGA
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. While the graphics did wow me, what I really remember about this one is that some children's TV show set it up for a segment where you could dial in to play it over the phone. Trying to give commands over the broadcast delay back to the studio where somebody was presumably holding the controller! Quite possibly the worst control scheme for a video game of all time, and given the notorious call charges to daytime TV shows, probably one of the most expensive per gameplay minute into the bargain.

    1. I vividly remember Hugo (perhaps running on an Amiga) on Going Live in the early 90s. It didn't even occur to me that there could be some guy behind the scenes with a controller in his hands. No wonder no one got very far.

  2. I wonder if you will eventually tackle the sequel to this as well, for one of the monthly five releases in the next few months.

    1. No promises as I've not put any work into it yet, but if all goes to plan you can expect it soon :)

  3. Thxs for the game :)

  4. This review of Bug! for the PC provides a detailed look at the game's history, gameplay mechanics, and overall experience. It highlights the game's unique features, such as Bug's abilities and the variety of collectibles, while also acknowledging its challenges, including difficulty spikes and level design. The review offers a nostalgic look back at Bug! as an early example of a 3D platformer, noting its impact on gaming at the time. Overall, it presents Bug! as a game that, while impressive for its time, may not hold up as well today due to its dated mechanics and difficulty.