Bug Fables, paper insectio! – First Sip Review
Bug Fables is a turn-based RPG with an insect cast. Developed by Moonsprout Games and published by DANGEN Entertainment.
Bug Fables is about a queen who longed for youth. Because of this, she sent explorers out to find the mysterious Eternal Sapling, rumored to be the source of everlasting youth. The explorers never located the Eternal Sapling but from their efforts, the Explorer Guild Association was born. Queen Elizant passed away but not before passing the task on to her daughter Queen Elizant II. Now a new group of budding bugs wanting to become explorers are starting their journey.
Vi and Kabbu are two such bugs. Beginning their journey by applying for explorer passes, they are both solo and based on their rules of partnerships both are denied. Seeing a simple solution to this problem they decide to team up and explore a nearby ruin with a nasty reputation. It is in this dungeon that the pair encounter Leif a moth who seems to know magic (which is rare in this world with less than 10 known sorcerors in existence). The trio then continues its mission for the Queen’s artifact as well as to find information on the mysterious Lief’s past.
The game is split over seven chapters and spans the world of Bugaria, with many more twists and turns.
Bug Fables has a very Paper Mario feel to it. The characters are 2D like in Paper Mario, and the backgrounds are rendered in 3D. Like in Paper Mario. But it’s not just the basic template, the entire art-style has a Paper Mario cartoon charm to it. You can tell when a game is trying to ape off the style of another more successful game. To me, Bug Fables is not one of those games. Rather it feels like a Paper Mario spin-off game more than a clone.
The characters have a lot of personality and there are a range of designs. Similarly, the enemies come in all sorts of varieties. The game’s visuals are overall bright and happy, as well as crisp and easy to take in.
Extra mention needs to go to the design of the towns, in the Ant city buildings are made from among other things, cardboard, straws and an overturned mug. This somewhat indicates that the land of Bugaria might exist within our world.
Bug Fables has a charming soundtrack. The music is as bright and happy as the art-style. Unless the situation calls for a darker tone and a darker tune. Unsurprisingly at this stage the game it is most reminiscent of in most places is Paper Mario. But again this is good company to be in.
Sound effects are also bright and cheery. Rather than talking there is a sound effect that plays as the words type out. Each character has a slightly different pitch to their talking noise which is a nice little bit of polish.
No prizes for guessing which game Bug Fables gameplay most resembles. If you’ve ever played the first two Paper Mario games you’ll be right at home with Bug Fables. If you haven’t then here are the basics.
You control your bugs as you walk around the map, to begin with, they can walk and jump. Shortly after you start playing Kabbu gains a horn attack to cut down grass and move rocks. Vi will then gain access to her Beemarang outside of battle to activate switches from a distance. And finally, Lief uses ice magic when he joins to freeze enemies and water sources, creating makeshift platforms.
While walking around and exploring the world you will see enemies. Interacting with the enemies by touching them or having them touch you (exclusion being if Lief has frozen them), will begin the battle phase. Battles are turned based, each character gets one action (the leader may get two if you start the battle advantageously). Actions consist of either a standard attack, skill, item use, or “strategy” option, which involves things like changing leader/turn order, spying on your enemy to learn their stats or even skipping a turn.
The battle is concluded when one side is wiped out (runs out of HP on all units). Both regular attacks and some skills will have a special attack command to power them up. For instance, Vi’s Beemarang has a gauge with a green part which will increase damage if you stop the marker in it. Likewise, Kabbu’s horn attack can be powered by holding down and releasing it when the large icon flashes. These action commands are straight out of Paper Mario and have the same feel to them. Similarly, the action command when an enemy attacks to block out some of the damage is just like Paper Mario.
It’s not all Paper Mario ideas
While a lot of the features come from Paper Mario, even some I haven’t mentioned like the leveling system, experience orbs and Medals (replacing badges from Paper Mario). There are also features unique to Bug Fables, such as using a 3 character team rather than Mario and an interchangeable partner. When the third character joins it unlocks an ablity called Turn Relay. This ability when used allows a bug to give up their action so another teammate can take an extra one or even two. While this can be useful if all enemies are airborne as Vi is the only one that can hit them with her standard attack, the extra turns are progressively weaker so it’s not best to rely on it too much.
Another feature is the leader system. Any of the three bugs can act as a leader in a battle, the leader gain an extra strength point, but is also most likely to be targeted.
These are just a few examples of the gameplay features offered in Bug Fables. There is plenty more to uncover including side quests and the like.
As a huge fan of the Paper Mario series, I would say Bug Fables is the best Paper Mario game since The Thousand Year Door. While Super Paper Mario was an interesting hybrid of the Super Mario and Paper Mario ideas and both Sticker Star and Color Splash brought in new characters and ideas. None of them really captured the essence of the turn-based RPG this first two games had quite as well as Bug Fables does.
Fans of the Paper Mario series will feel right at home, but the game is well made and entertaining enough that any RPG fan would do well with taking a look.
In Coffee Terms
Coffee-Wise, Bug Fables is like a new barista that loves a major chain. Loves them so much that they decided to make their own version of a signature blend. And they absolutely nailed it. The taste is that delicious brew you fell in love with all those years ago. The big chain still makes it from time to time but they changed up the recipe, seemingly unaware of why people loved the taste to begin with. So these new guys come along and they find that flavor, they bring it back, they mix in their own personality and voila it’s your new favorite blend.
Bug Fables Links
Bug Fables Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.