Monday, December 12, 2011

SC On Escape from Bug Island (Wii)

Not a Universal Studios ride.

In my never-ending quest to find a survival-horror Wii game worse than Calling, I now come face-to-face with a rather infamous title.

Ha!  I wish.

Let's get this over with.  Escape from Bug Island is known as Necro-Nesia in Japan.  I'm not sure why they changed the name, but I'm guessing whoever is responsible only watched the first few minutes of the game and said "The island has bugs on it!  The characters must escape from this place- HEY WAIT A MINUTE!"

That's my best guess because Escape from Bug Island, while it has giant bugs, also has flying fish, bear trap-like plants, spiders, giant frogs, and giant gorillas, all of which are most definitely not bugs.  How do you- fuck it, moving on.

The game centers around Michelle, a woman (I'm assuming) who is studying insects and came to this island to find a few rare species that only live there.  She's... over-enthusiastic about it, to the point where I fear she may have the brain of a sugared-up five-year old.


Mike is the token tough guy douche bag who totes a shotgun and is supposedly Ray's best friend.  He constantly aims the shotgun at everyone and everything and, at one point, it sounds like it fires mid-dialogue and no one acknowledges it.  He's on the island because... uh...

Not this shit again.

And then there's Ray.  Ray came to the island with his smilie-faced backpack despite his crippling fear of insects, wearing shorts might I add, because he has a crush on Michelle and Mike is a friend of his.  Mike, however, uses his horribly written/translated dialogue to make advances on Michelle right in front of him, to which Ray mopes around and falls asleep.

I want you to guess which of these three characters ends up in the camp alone and we have to play as in this game.  Keep in mind which one has the best and worst reasons to be there, as well as the most and least knowledge of the surroundings and the best and worst physical abilities.

If you said Ray, congratulations!  You get to suffer like I did!

"With limited skills and ability..."

You might think it would go without saying that, since this is a Wii title, the graphics aren't that great.  However, I am going to dwell on this. The visuals are on par with an early Dreamcast title, and even with the flashlight on you'll rarely see more than forty feet in front of Ray.  Turning the flashlight off helps Ray not get noticed by enemies as fast, but it also turns most of the environment into a blurry gray blob.

In fact, before I go any further let's get one thing out of the way: controls.

May or may not be a better control scheme.

Despite having a massive tutorial at the beginning of the game which explains absolutely everything Ray can (sort of) do, the controls are still rather hit and miss.  Movement, while it takes some getting used to, works okay.  However, shaking either the wiimote or the nunchuk too hard (read: slightly) causes Ray to roll left or right.  The motion-sensitive three-hit melee combo is sometimes sketchy about detecting the final attack, and almost always reads one swing as two.

The worst part, however, is trying to do anything in first-person view.  It's set up so that wherever you point the wiimote, Ray looks in that direction, and pointing directly at the TV has him look straight ahead.  The downside of this design choice is that the looking is extremely sensitive and makes using ranged weapons (which must be used in first-person view) unnecessarily difficult, especially since throwing weapons depend on how hard the wiimote is swung.

The one thing I will give the controls credit for is having a left-handed option (despite Ray always holding a weapon in his right hand).  Thanks for realizing not everyone is right-handed.


 That's assuming you can see what you're doing, which isn't always guaranteed.  There's a flashlight Ray carries which lights up everything, including things that the light isn't pointed at.  When it's off, everything becomes a dark grey amorphous blob about twenty feet in front of Ray.  I understood why they limited the draw distance in games like Silent Hill 1, but this game from the last 2000's not only uses the same trick, but does so worse than those early titles on far less powerful systems?

And the environments aren't detailed or complex enough to warrant this trick, as they consist largely of the same three trees and a few different ferns most of the time.

And speaking of variety, the enemies are varied enough to stay interesting, as the section-by-section progression introduces one or two new enemies at a time, usually as the same over-dramatic music starts, stops abruptly, then starts again.  However, these enemies tend to be named incorrectly.  I'm quite phobic of insects and usually don't bother learning specific names for things, but I can tell the difference between a roach, an earwig, and a centipede, which this game can't.

SCXCR 1, Escape from Bug Island who cares?

Look!  It's a wild Beedrill!

More importantly, they aren't even strong enough to be a threat.  The "centipedes" are understandable because they're smaller, crawl on the ground and can be killed with one whack of a stick.  The giant mantises though?  Just hit them with a stick five times and they'll go down.  Hell, they recoil after every shot so there's no risk of getting hit either.  And this is assuming you didn't use the hunting knife found at the beginning of the game, which kills them even faster.

Giant crickets?  Throw a rock at them.  One rock.  That's all it takes to kill them despite their being much bigger and allegedly tougher than the shoebox-size "vampire" moths, which take two to four rocks to kill.

Spiders?  While they do move at Sonic-esque speeds, they are easily foiled by the wildly-swinging-at-the-ground-until-they-jump-into-the-melee-weapon-face-first strategy.

And even if the enemies do hit Ray, they don't do that much damage and there are enough healing items laying around that dying is almost never an issue.  Whether they're in cabins or boxes or growing at the base of or in the canopies of trees, healing items like mangoes, cans of food, red mushrooms, brown mushrooms, purple mushrooms, and oranges are everywhere.  Playing through on normal I had over a dozen oranges, a few mangoes, four red mushrooms, a brown mushroom, and two cans of food by the time I hit the second "boss" fight, enough to refill my entire health bar about five times.

Oranges 1, Bugs- *dramatic music*

Other characters are introduced either in cutscenes or via journal entries found around the island, though these characters are even less developed than the leads.  Additionally the cutscenes are voiced over, but cut off and tell the rest of the story in text, accompanied by the same 7-second loop used for the in-game menu, for no apparent reason other than to keep the game under budget and/or on schedule for release.

Oh yeah, this was released on Wii launch day in Japan.  How would you have liked this to be your introduction to the system?

Dynamic entry!

The funny thing is, this game has multiple endings.  All involve Ray escaping the island, but I just find it funny that someone thought this game would be worthy of multiple playthroughs to find everything.  This game is Resident Evil-like in terms of unlockable extras; unlimited ammo for weapons, a "samurai" weapon (a sword, not the Samurai Edge), and even game endings are grades up to A and S-rank like in most survival-horror games.  Heaven forbid they try something different.

This could very well be one of the worst games on the Wii I've played so far...


I'd say that Escape From Bug Island is still better than Calling.  The only reason I say that is because things happen on a more consistent basis. That and the game in general has a tendency to be hilariously bad as opposed to Calling's "watching competitive fishing in real time is more exciting than this" bad.  As such this is now my favorite game to play on streams.

"What is this?!" -Blondeguygamer