(3DS eShop)

BUGS vs. TANKS! (3DS eShop)

Game Review

BUGS vs. TANKS! Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano


The Guild01 series brought 3DS owners three completely different, off-the-wall, and well-received games. The second iteration of this series, appropriately named Guild02, is already off to another fantastic start with the recent release of The Starship Damrey, a story-heavy science fiction adventure. Now, we’re lucky enough to experience the work of Keiji Inafune, legendary designer and producer of the Mega Man series. But does this game live up to what one might expect from such an experienced member of the video game industry, or should it be squashed from existence?

BUGS vs. TANKS! provides exactly what the title promises. Playing as World War II era German soldiers who have been mysteriously shrunk down to insect size, your goal is to survive the rough terrain and exterminate killer bugs before they do the same to you. The plot may seem tongue-in-cheek at a glance, but it actually deals with such heavy themes as the importance of camaraderie and survival at all costs. It’s unfortunate that this title doesn’t boast the gameplay to back up the plot and create a well-rounded experience.

What the gameplay comes down to is top-down shooting, and it never manages to evolve from there. While it could be praised for its simplicity, the fact is that everything quickly becomes repetitive and even boring. Before long the missions begin to feel like chores that you must work through in order to further unfold the plot's mystery. There are 40 story missions to play through, but none of them last longer than about 5 minutes, meaning that most players will be able to easily run through the campaign in just under 4 hours. There are also co-op missions that exist outside of the campaign that accommodate up to four players, but each player will need to own a copy of BUGS vs. TANKS!, as it does not support download play.

No matter what difficulty you choose to play on, the missions gradually and steadily become more challenging. To counter this, completing missions or finding abandoned tanks throughout certain stages reward you with new parts that you can use to customize your artillery. Though customizations are limited to simply your tank's body, turret, and paint job, there are enough parts available to create and save different types of tanks for any situation that you may face.

The biggest hindrance holding this game back is a complete lack of direction once you’ve entered a mission. A brief dialogue scene prefaces each stage explaining that your job is to collect stray soldiers or destroy a certain amount of anthills, but you’re essentially left to your own devices as soon as the level begins. In one mission in particular, you are tasked with rescuing four tanks in under three minutes, but there is no in-game collection counter, and the missing tanks are not marked on the touchscreen’s mini-map, causing the entire mission to be a mad scramble to find as many tanks as possible without knowing how many you have left to collect, or if you’re just treading the same ground over and over again. While some stages do have a rendezvous point marked on your map, these are usually the more linear missions that wouldn’t require map assistance anyway. Instead of making missions more difficult or giving players the feeling of freedom, this strange imbalanced lack of features instead makes missions seem aimless, causing unnecessary wandering.

The controls have a tendency to be a bit frustrating, but they work quite well for how you might imagine a tank would maneuver. The body of your tank is controlled using either the Circle Pad or the D-Pad while Y and A are used to rotate your turret from left to right. You also have the option of controlling the direction of your turret using the 3DS’s touchscreen, a system that works much quicker than holding down the hard buttons. Pressing R will shoot a missile, or holding the trigger button down will instead prevent missiles from firing if you have it set to automatically shoot. Overall, this control scheme works well and does its part to reflect the feeling of being in control of such a lumbering machine.

Working in correspondence with the controls to create a certain atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re part of the action, the graphics are just as immersive. All of the tank and bug models are detailed enough to easily distinguish one type of creature from another, and the 3D effect makes the environments come alive. The soundtrack also does its part to lend to this overall aesthetic, and the sound of insect legs scampering through the grass around you is sure to make your skin crawl.


While the basic concept and gameplay may be enticing for many players, the fact is that BUGS vs. TANKS! is a repetitive and overly simplistic experience. The campaign is short and involves a plot that delves much deeper than simple survival, but the gameplay quickly becomes boring and loses its charm. That's not to say that this is a bad or broken game, but it falls flat in its attempts to create an experience that is both engaging and fun.

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User Comments (51)



Grubdog said:

I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way. It's a shame because I'm absolutely in love with the concept and the 3D effect is really cool, showing plants and bugs like they're huge monstrosities popping out of the screen. But the gameplay is basically "hold shoot, and don't miss a single shot, ever". I'm stuck on a certain mission and it seems like I've done everything possible and just can't progress. I'm glad this review echoes my thoughts so I don't have to do one hah. Switching to Easy is demoralising and still doesn't live up to the dictionary definition of "easy".

One thing I disagree on is the lack of direction in missions, I enjoyed exploring and figuring out the route. It's the core gameplay mechanics that just never go anywhere. Did you beat every mission? It's stupidly hard.



MeWario said:

With a name like BUGS vs. TANKS, I wasn't expecting gold Still... Was hoping it would be good.



LunaticPandora said:

About time! I've been waiting since release for this review, only to buy it day one and be disappointed with the fact that i'd bought a PS1 game.(it sure looks like one)



Goginho said:

@MeWario Plants vs. Zombies also has a name pointing in the same direction, and yet it became a hit (apparently, since I haven't played it).



Lunapplebloom said:

Seems my fear of this game was well founded. Judging from the trailer, I had this feeling in my gut that I knew this would be a so so game. I'll be giving this a miss. Maybe if it has a good sale, but not even considering it till then.



Shambo said:

i find it pretty enjoyable. not amazing in any way, but the lack of direction is good, you've been shrunk to bug size after all. the game encourages careful exploration (to find abandoned tanks for parts), and mixes things up with occasional time-limited missions or an insanely hard boss fight.
tank models are nice and environments, bugs and objectives vary about just enough.
it feels and plays like a b-game, but like b-movies, sometimes that's more enjoyable than triple a ones.
still, when surrounded and/or pounded by raindrops, it gets frustrating quick.
and the lack of download play means i'll probably never get to experience co-op... while i love simple yet challenging co-op tank games



C0mmanderVide0 said:

It's pretty awful. Bought it from day one, thinking it's GUILD, it's bound to be at least decent. And no, no it wasn't.
The mission where you have to defend the base camp seems impossible and the gameplay is just pants. Deleted it after an hour, never have I done that before.



Grubdog said:

I managed to StreetPass one person with this game, and can't figure out what it does. They're supposed to add to the allies you call in an emergency, but they never showed up.



dumedum said:

Here is an excerpt from Gaming Age's review:

"I mean, it's not very often that you play a game in which the Nazis are the good guys. Yet that's exactly what you have here. And I'm not talking Nazi analogues or Nazis from some crazy alternate dimension, or Nazi zombies, or anything like that. I mean that, in Bugs vs Tanks, you play as a Panzer-riding, genocide-doing, Hitler-loving Nazi straight from the 1940s."
"But at the same time, you — playing as a German – are riding in tanks drawn from the historical record, and the game's intro explicitly places the game in early 1940s, and you rage about the dirty Allied forces that did this to you"

"But the fact of the matter is this: Bugs vs Tanks isn't good enough to make me do that. If it were a truly exceptional game, it might be possible to pull off the "You're playing as a Nazi!" twist. But a couple of base defense missions and kill quests in which you're playing as wise-cracking Nazis, with no additional commentary beyond that? Sorry, but that just doesn't cut it."

Canadian onLine review also mentioned this:
"There’s an odd angle to the story though that I didn’t really expect. You’re actually part of the famous German Panzer squad, and while you’re not fighting the allies in Bugs vs. Tanks!, it still feels a little odd playing the Germans in a World War II setting, even if it never directly associates (or mentions) Nazis from the 1940’s. While you may be fighting bugs in a grass and dirt setting instead of directly facing off against the Allies in Europe, it just feels weird to be playing the side of the Germans set in a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” motif."



Kirk said:

I thought this looked pretty crappy from the very first time I saw it.



Bluezealand said:


Yes, because every suppressed nation loves its dictator and men actually had a choice if they wanted to fight in WWII. facepalm



Bluezealand said:

With all due respect, but I am German, I know people who lived in that era in Germany (upon them my own grandparents) and I think I know a little more about the history of my country and its people, as some author of a book which got 3 stars on amazon, because its full of unproven theories and generalizations.



felix330 said:

1. It's a fantasy game where you are fighting against bugs. Do you seriously try to turn this into some kind of serious historic commentary?
2. German soldiers in WW2 were fighting for the nazis, but that doesn't mean every German or German soldier at that time was automatically a nazi. No, the Nazis aren't the "good guys" in this game and the game doesn't glorify (or even mention) their ideology in any way.



dumedum said:

@Bluezealand - I'm not going to get into a political debate with you. I'm Jewish, and this guy is not "some author", this is a hugely important book which had a lot of implications. You should read it sometime.



Chris720 said:

I had a feeling this game was going to be terrible, glad I waited for the review. And there is no Guild game so far that has been outright brilliant yet imo.



Technosphile said:

I thought NintendoLife was extremely generous with its score for Starship Damrey, which I found to be a very repetitive and dull hallway-crawler, but a great cure for insomnia. So to see this leads me to believe Bugs vs. Tanks is either better than the score given here, or Guild02 is seriously inferior to Guild01.

I'm still hopeful, however, for Attack of the Friday Monsters (?), which has a great premise, at least.



Chris720 said:

@dumedum Every country has made mistakes, every country has had blood on their hands, every country has commited horrendous crimes against humanity. But Germany is usually always the one that gets the stick, even now. Sure, Germany was despicable during the 2 World Wars, but so were America and Britain. And if you can't acknowledge that... well then...

Besides, this is no place for religion or politics.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I'm also disappointed with this review, who failed to mention this, and even added: "importance of camaraderie and survival at all costs." as if playing as German soldiers in WW2 is a good example to show camaraderie and survival at all costs.

I'm also disappointed in this review for not reading like a history textbook, and instead discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the game itself. Ron, if I'm not going to learn about WWII from reading reviews of downloadable software, WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN ABOUT IT



Zodiak13 said:

I can't really disagree with the review, but I still have had a lot of fun with this game. It is priced a little high for what I recieved in return, but do not regret my purchase. I suggest that some people will get some enjoyment from this game, but wait for it to go on sale maybe. I play 1 stage every other day,and that seems just about right .



Spoony_Tech said:

Wow where are the mods! Anyways looks like that's all over with.

Edit: Ok maybe not over just yet!

Just from the video in the eshop I thought this looked like it was going to be really boring. Glad I held off for the review. Looks like this set of Guild games doesn't equal the level of the last which might kill them off in the future.



Zodiak13 said:

@OldMan-Tech The last set wasn't that amazing either, but I will buy all 3 of the Guild _02 so that unique experiences will continue to be attempted.



Spoony_Tech said:

@Zodiak13 Well I'm still holding off hope that the last one will be really good! I still think any of the first ones beat all of these games so far. Well based off the reviews anyways and not first hand of the 2nd set!



JayceJa said:

is it just me that finds the paint job option 'stars and stripes' shown in the second screen shot VERY odd considering that you are playing as german soldiers in a world war 2 era game?



k8sMum said:

ok. i've cleaned this up as best i could. i left parts of @dumedum's original post as it is mostly quoting from reviews. the sniping against each other i've deleted.

NL is about games. it's not about political ideologies, tho they do sometimes cross over. old wounds still bring out passionate feelings in people. sensitive subjects are always going to get people stirred up, on all sides.

be good to each other, guys.



Yomerodes said:

Bah, this is nothing. There have been many games in the past that put you on the german side in the WW2, and most of the time against the allies, not some bugs. Coming to my mind right now is the DS game Panzer Tactics (and other games in the Panzer series) a Turn STrategy game in the style of Advance Wars which contains three campaigns: Germany (easiest, tutorial) American (normal) Soviet (hard).

Of anything, this game covers all the bases...for some, it will show the camaraderie and the adventure of the underappreciated german soliders of the third reich facing against a neutral enemy...for others, it will be the perfect punishment, those wacky nutzis are facing horrible mindless insects and most of the time (considering the difficulty of the game) are going to end being devoured alive.



Ron_DelVillano said:

All right, folks. Let me clear some things up.

It's true that you're in command of a group of WWII era German soldiers in this game, and I considered inserting a long diatribe into this review discussing the merits of storytelling and how offensive this game may be to many players, but that wouldn't be fair of me. The truth is that my knowledge of history is based on what I've learned in American schools, and what I've read in English books. In a word, I recognize that my view of history is slanted. I'm assuming that what I've been taught about WWII is very different from what someone from Germany or Japan may have been taught, so I didn't think it would be fair to insert what is essentially my opinion on the past into a review of a video game that came out today and makes no claims at being factually accurate.

I can almost guarantee that no one reading this review or playing this game was alive and fighting during WWII (myself included), so who are we to claim that our views of what happened back then are the correct ones? I also chose not to include my opinions of WWII in this review out of respect for those who do have opinions that differ from mine. There is a time and place for historical discussion and argument, but this is not it.

It's also worth mentioning that (as far as I remember) they never once use the word "Nazi" in this game. If they had explicitly said that, or if they had mentioned what these particular soldiers were doing during WWII, then I may have been a bit more reluctant to stay quiet about the whole thing. Thankfully that is not the case.

As Phil implied above, my goal with this review is to talk about the game itself and explain what works and what doesn't. I'm sorry if some people are disappointed that I didn't delve more into specifics about the plot, but I think I covered it enough for players to decide whether or not it's something that they might be interested in. I see what I do as an opportunity to be as objective as possible when discussing games, and sometimes that means playing devil's advocate. I try not to take personal offense when a game's plot is something that I disagree with, and I would never score a game lower because of something like that.

I'd also like to thanks @k8sMum for cleaning this page up. It's not always easy to stay on top of these things. Keep up the good work.



SetupDisk said:

LOL It's pretty crazy that you had to put that up about a review of a tanks vs bugs game when army shooters are reviewed all the time without much mention of plot.

It's a game site folks.



dumedum said:

Thank you Ron for taking the time to respond. I do wish you wrote something about the problematic plot like you originally thought. I think you are not biased in any way. A moral equivalence in this case is a misguided attempt at objectivity. What you've been taught is probably absolutely correct. There is definite evil, not everything has two sides and there is no good reason to consider those other views if they exist. But I respect your opinion and the thought you gave to writing this. Thanks.



Noend said:

My son and I have copies and both love it. Our favorite is trying to find the broken down tanks on each mission to create funny new combinations and paint.

I can see the reviewers point but we play in small chunks each day so it never gets boring for us.

We can do the co-op missions which are exciting as their are so many close calls (and failures too!). I'm glad it's not easy.



AVahne said:

Doesn't seem the Guild 02's games stack up well against Guild 01's games so far. I hope that last one turns out good though.



Windy said:

I was going to download this but I'm glad I didn't. I just have so much other stuff to play.



EaZy_T said:

I was going to get this regardless of reviews, it looked like a silly fun arcade style tank game. I'll still end up getting it eventually if it goes on sale, my 3DS backlog is way too overloaded ATM.



KnightRider666 said:

The Guild2 titles haven't really impressed me so far. It looks like I will be waiting for discounts in the future before I purchase any of them.



andrea987 said:

@SetupDisk lol, this. At least in this one you're not killing people. I think what we should all agree on is to have less violent/war games. They need to be thaught in school as humanity's lowest points, horror stories not to be re-enacted, even if only digitally. As every act of violence, really.



Onion said:

This game would probably benefited more from making it a strategy game of sorts, whether turn based or RTS. As it stands currently it's just another top down shooter that doesn't do much to distance itself from the rest of the pack.



Frostfyr said:

About this part of the review:
"In one mission in particular, you are tasked with rescuing four tanks in under three minutes, but there is no in-game collection counter...causing the entire mission to be a mad scramble to find as many tanks as possible without knowing how many you have left to collect"
I'm pretty sure that if you hit the Start button, the game pauses and there's a counter that tells you exactly how many tanks you've already rescued.



Zodiak13 said:

@k8sMum Yeah thanks for cleaning up earlier. Moderators are never thanked but often scorned. NL seems mostly fair (I have had comments removed and been in the doghouse early on). So thanks to the Mods on NL for doing the best you folks can to keep the comment section a place I enjoy reading and commenting. I may not agree with everyone here, but respect and restraint seem to be shown by most of the other commentors. I think we have a great communtity here.



kitsunetails8 said:

So what if you can play as Nazis!? If my history is right, weren't the Japanese one of Germany's allies in WWII? If so then it would make PERFECT sense that a game from JAPAN (during the 1940s) would have a Nazi tank in it.



BossBattles said:

Can't believe people are actually trying to figure out this Nazi angle. What is wrong with gamers these days?



TJF588 said:

Another GUILD sale, another attempt to convince myself to nab this'n (picked up the hilarious Weapon Shop de Omasse, but Aero Porter is still a "nope" for me). The implication of Nazi-ism is a sensitive subject, but I take it that this game itself doesn't doesn't make much of these characters beyond them being soldiers engaged in active warfare. If the choice of Panzer tanks necessitates German soldiers, is it really necessary to also expand the characters' ideologies beyond the battlefield?

NOTE: I am woefully ignorant not just of this game, but of real-world military and wartime histories on the whole, so I do not know how far this script and/or its localization may have crossed the line(s).

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