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.

Bug Bash logo


A curiosity here, in fact I think it's a first. Bug Bash was once a commercial game (released as part of a two-game package by Mutation Software with a shoot-'em-up called Nucleus), but now it's entered into the Public Domain (sort of) via an exclusive deal with PD people Amiganuts.

The gameplay is pretty elementary, featuring you, the player, as a ladybird with a helicopter jetpack on a mission to clear up lots of rubbish from the garden, all the time being hindered by lots of other insect-type baddies.

The graphics and sound befit a one-time commercial release but the game itself is simplistic and repetitive, and doesn't take very long to become boring. Still, as PD you can't really complain, and the price is a fair reflection on what you're getting.

Nucleus logo


Here we have the very game once released with Bug Bash (see review on this page), now also exclusively licensed to Amiganuts. Nucleus is a horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-up in the R-Type mould, and features extremely good parallax graphics that are well up to much of the competition in the genre (Ziriax, X-Out, Atomic Robokid etc). Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't match up, being slow and uneventful with unimaginative aliens and dim attack patterns.

The customary power-ups which you can bolt onto your weedy spaceship are a better set than usual, but when you die you lose them (of course) and it becomes even tougher than in most games to progress without them. Even on the later levels and with lots of speed-ups things never get very exciting, and the pretty graphics seem to have largely gone to waste.

Again though, youre not getting a bad deal at a PD price, and as there aren't many other PD games in this particular market, it has to be worth giving a go. If you really, really want a shoot-'em-up, and you really are pretty skint, that is.