Did you know that bugs could be ninjas? Ninjas that protect forests, even? Well now you know that this one, this Shadow Bug, most certainly does.
You are the apparently overpowered ninja hero known as Shadow Bug. The gist of things is that you need to save the forest from an evil factory by, what else, slicing monsters into pieces. And that’s about it for story. There was a clear focus on gameplay over story, so let’s get to that.
Shadow Bug is a platformer. Every stage has a simple objective: get from point A to point B. How you do this, though, is with some interesting mechanics. Much like Captain Toad, the Shadow Bug cannot jump. Instead, your maneuverability comes from the ability to slice any monster within your range, regardless of their position. And much like Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s possible to (slowly) chain attacks whilst airborne, so depending on the scenario, you’re looking at quite a bit of airtime.
This follows into the game’s most defining feature: the controls. You’re advised before beginning that detached Joy Cons are the optimal way to play Shadow Bug; this is because the game incorporates pointer controls. Similar to Super Mario Galaxy, you have a reticle, represented by a firefly, which enables you to attack whatever enemy it’s positioned on, by extension making your overall movement very fluid. It’s a fun system helped by the fact that the aiming is quite reliable. The game has a great pace as well. Death is a slap on the wrist considering that levels are pretty short, and the level design is never boring. Even then, the game has a pretty even difficulty; not mindless, but not controller-throwingly hard either. Sadly, this comes at the expense of length, as Shadow Bug only has 36 levels to go with it. While still respectable when combined with the encouraged speedrunning, it falls short in length. However, the game is quite fun while it lasts.
The game’s description boasts a breathtaking soundscape and mesmerizing art. It definitely delivers on both, looking and sounding gorgeous for a platformer. And it also runs smooth like butter, so no worries about performance hindering your gameplay. The effort to make Shadow Bug a good looking game is there, and it most certainly paid off.
Shadow Bug is a unique, fun and gorgeous platformer marred by length. For nine dollars, you get a well-executed game with enough content to keep you playing it for a while, but will leave you wanting a lot more of it after the end.