Bug Bash logo Nucleus logo

MICROTECH Double-game pack £12.99 * Joysticks

BUG BASH is a jolly little poison-em-up in which you play a small, cute insect out to keep the garden free of your ugly-bug cousins. Armed with a 'terrifying' insecticide spray gun and helicopter jet pack you must chase around collecting rubbish. Cute nasties fall out of the sky who you spray with the gun or dodge using your heli-pack, because each contact saps energy from your little buggy body.

Bright brash sprites disguise some neat scrolling and backgrounds. It desperately wants to be cute and succeeds, but the game itself is far from friendly. Energy levels determine your survival and these are very rapidly knocked down to zero - cue dying fly time. The best route must be worked out for each level, as must the collection order. Food can refresh your temporarily but there's very little about, so discretion always proves the better part of valour.

Backed up with a super twee background song, BB looks good and plays reasonably well. It never really makes it into the realm of the thrilling, standing firmly in the frustrating camp. This may spur some on to greater Bus Bashing, but most will not see it metamorphose into a good game.

Nucleus proves that shoot-em-ups have grown up. No longer are players content with duff sprites, now they demand smart art as well as good game design.

Well, Nucleus scores heavily here, because it's a vastly pretty blast. The backgrounds exude an eerie menace (Menace, did some say Menace?) and the aliens, while far from original in concept, all look the part.

The graphics of any shoot out, though, are just the icing on the cake. Players have come to expect more from shoot-out games and speed is truly the key to success: it sets the heart pumping, the palms sweating and the joystick groaning as you madly waggle to survive. Sadly this isn't the case for Nucleus.

The safe routes are obvious, which is just as well because the ship's gun is awesomely slow. The aliens repeat in identical waves until you reach the end of each short level, when you bash the big guy. The guardians are hard to kill, bearing in mind your limited speed, actually posing a real threat to your welfare.

As part of a two-game pack for less than £13 it's fine, but as a game on its own terms it's a good looker that lacks action.