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REVIEW | “Bugs Vs Tanks”: Cool Concept Masked By Poor Control Choices

Posted on July 18, 2013 AT 11:19am

One look at Bugs Vs Tanks, and you are forgiven if you bat it away like it was shovelware. However once you find out that the mind behind this title is Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Dead Rising), then your interest level may triple. However does Inafune’s track record still hold strongly, or will Bugs Vs Tanks be considered mere cannon fodder?

A new game from Inafune’s company Comcept Bugs Vs Tanks has you take control of a group of World War II German tanks, who have mysteriously shrunken to a tiny size. Their mission: to rendezvous with their Allies and find out why they have become so small. However the objective is easier said than done, as at every corner the tanks come across massive armies of insects that want to destroy you.

At first you’ll come across mere ants and mosquitos, which are small and easy to take on. However sooner — rather than later — moths, caterpillars, termites, spiders, and other bugs will come hurdling towards you as you try to rescue fellow comrades, reach new destinations, gather supplies, and take on massive boss battles.

During your missions you will earn new upgrades for your tanks, from new kinds of ammo to camouflage to painted your armed machine with. On some occasions you will find abandoned tanks to bring back to your camp, which can be used for future missions. These came quite in handy during some of the tougher missions, especially when going up against a massive spider that didn’t know when to quit.

When controlling the tank you have the option to have the fire option set to either manual or auto. During my time with Bugs Vs Tanks I found myself using the auto setting for the most part, mainly because it gave a good, easy aiming system that always led to a direct hit on the insects. Mind you, it takes many direct hits to kill a bug, especially the bigger ones.

Playing the game on 3DS I discovered one of the game’s (and the handheld’s) biggest technological disadvantages: the one Circle Pad. As I drove my tank and aimed my cannon at the bugs I found myself getting confused easily by which direction I was going. Many times I found my view to be askew during tougher battles with the insects, something that a second Circle Pad could’ve fixed during my gameplay. While there is the Circle Pad Pro to purchase I am not sure if Bugs Vs Tanks was made with this accessory in mind. (Perhaps I’ll have to revisit the game once I get my hands on it.)

The difficulty level in Bugs Vs Tanks starts off moderately, but once I reached the fourth chapter in the game I saw its toughness skyrocket. Many times I found myself lose in battle because I was surrounded by swarms of insects, and with the option of gaining assistance from other tanks given to you only once a level it makes it tougher to figure out the appropriate time to use that crutch. For days I found myself stuck in the termite attack level, with only dumb luck finally giving me the victory.

Graphically the game is hit-or-miss. The attention to detail in the insects is dutifully-noted, with even the shine of an ant’s exoskeleton paid close mind to. However the tanks can look weird in some places, with their tops moving about weirdly like they’re about to pop off and fall to the ground. Perhaps it’s an issue of a bug of a different kind, so hopefully there will be a way to release a patch for it. As for the 3D in Bugs Vs Tanks it’s used in a pretty good way. Tank barrels feel like they’re being pointed directly at you, and on a few occasions the bugs look as if they’re crawling all over your screen.

I had one other issue with Bugs Vs Tanks that can be considered peculiar, and perhaps it’s something I’m thinking way too much about. You’re playing as German tank operators in World War II. From an ethical standpoint wouldn’t you want the Germans to lose to the bugs? They were the bad guys during that war, after all, so why do we want them to succeed? Again, simple history buff nitpicking, but it raised my eyebrows a couple times.

With its spiking difficulty you can expect to beat Bugs Vs Tanks in about 6-8 hours, which is not bad for a downloadable title. There is also a Co-op mode you can play with friends and people from around the world, which can have its fun moments. However do not try to play Co-op by yourself, as you will find yourself unable to past the first level. (I died ten seconds in each time.)


  • Original, funny concept
  • Tank upgrades are really cool
  • Enemy insects look great


  • Controls can be a pain in later levels
  • Difficulty spikes unexpectedly
  • Tank graphics can look weird at times


Bugs Vs Tanks has a lot of potential, and if given a chance for a second go-ahead I see it becoming a successful series (especially on next-gen consoles). However as a stand-alone game Inafune’s title has some noticeable flaws that keep it from being a good game instead of a mediocre one. Don’t get me wrong: it can be fun, but it’s hard not to notice when Bugs Vs Tanks gets a little buggy (pun somewhat intended).

FINAL GRADE: 6.2 (out of ten)

Review code provided by Maverick PR

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck

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