Version Played: Wii – Current CEX Price: £1.50
I’m a sucker for monster movies with outrageously dramatic titles (just in case the title of this particular series of articles didn’t make that clear), especially if they have an exclamation mark added for good measure. Escape From Bug Island! has the appearance of a classic monster movie in the box art and logo design, which I absolutely adore.
A Wii launch title in Japan, bizarrely – and released there as Necro-Nesia – Escape from Bug Island! aims for creepy survival horror, but comes across as an unintentionally amusing, somewhat campy experience. Ray – your character – travels to an island with friends Mike (who’s a total asshole, by the way) and Michelle. It’s Michelle’s trip and; her aim being to study the various giant insects, with Ray determined to confess his love for Michelle and Mike’s goal to…also tell Michelle he loves her, because he’s an asshole. When Michelle goes missing, Mike sets out to look for her – and he disappears too. It’s up to Ray to find Michelle and his douchebag ‘friend’ on Bug Island.
Visually, in motion the game is really unappealing in all honesty – with its wonky animation and low detail scenery – though the bugs themselves are at least well realised (and they sound appropriately gross too, especially when being squished). The soundtrack is one of the few things that strikes the intended tone, though it’s hampered by silly details like Ray’s awkward animation and the unintentionally hilarious notes you’ll find in the game world – as well as the silly plot in general.
The controls aren’t too bad on the whole, but a bit of awkwardness does creep in – especially when under pressure against a giant bug (or bugs plural), trying to bust out specific moves with the dreaded Wii motion controls.
There’s an element of ‘this is so bad, it’s good’ with many ‘classic’ monster movies. When the actors, taking their roles deadly seriously, come up against ridiculous situations and awful special effects or a director doesn’t quite nail the tone, there’s a delicious kitschy quality that happens completely unintentionally – and in fact, isn’t possible to knowingly hit without being cringeworthy. Escape From Bug Island! is a success in this regard – it’s stupid, it’s awkward and yet everyone involved clearly took it so seriously as a survival horror game that it’s almost accidentally charming in many ways.
Is it worth a try at current bargain bin prices? I can’t pretend that Escape From Bug Island! is a good game; it absolutely isn’t. Yet, at current prices, it’s well worth checking out, if only to marvel at how bizarrely off-kilter it is and to laugh at the terrible attempts at horror contained within. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you – it feels odd to recommend a game because it’s so bad, but there’s a definite wonky charm to Escape From Bug Island! that saw me progress a lot further than I thought I would – if only to see what nutty turns the story would take next.
It’s an oddly endearing game and – much like many other bargain bin titles I’ve covered – the kind of game that has appeal now that the cost is so low, but it’s also a title I’d never in a million years have recommended at release.
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