Doodlebug was an Amiga game that was criminally ignored upon its original release. A chirpy, good-looking platformer with plenty of challenge and variety, the game never really took off in the days when 16 bit platform games were all the rage.
Perhaps it wasn’t as snazzy as Zool, also an Amiga title, but one that gained a lot more attention than Doodlebug did, yet Doodlebug was a more thoughtful take on the platform genre.
So, now the game has been re-released for iPhone and the iPad(version reviewed here), can it gain a more popular following than it did all those years ago?
Well, let’s hope so, because Doodlebug is still every bit as good as it was, although the touch controls take some getting used to.
Doodlebug is out to save his Princess Lady Bug, and must traverse 20 levels, fighting enemies and dodging obstacles in order to proceed. The twist in the gameplay is Doodlebug’s magic pencils and eraser, which can be used to produce helpful items and weapons. You can draw balloons, umbrellas, invincibility potions and time freezes to help you out, and you are going to need it because Doodlebug is a tough game.
When you first start playing, you might be forgiven for thinking the game unfair, but it isn’t. You just need to think about everything you do, and decide how best to use all your abilities to get past any given situation. In short, there is usually an easy and a hard way to get past most of the enemies, and as most of the foes have to hit you a few times to kill you, you should be able to get through most of the trickier situations if you are clever. Think less Sonic, more Mario with items.
The graphics are as old school as you would expect, but they still have the same high quality sprites and backgrounds, and the game has a whole load of character. The levels have an immense amount of variety, so don’t think the game sticks to the bright and colourful looks of the first couple of stages.
One of the best things about Doodlebug is the vehicles littered throughout the game. Purchasable from various friendly characters, they range from Spaceships to Submarines and are tremendous fun and add that essential zest to the gameplay mix.
The only real letdown here are the touch controls. The developer has added plenty of options for getting the perfect set of controls for you, but the problem lies in the fact that Doodlebug was designed for a digital joystick. Luckily it’s not a deal breaker, as it simply takes a little while to get the hang of the virtual controls, but I’m sure some won’t be prepared to invest that time. My advice: stick with it and you will find a great platform game.
There is an iPhone version as well, and it’s here that the controls really don’t combine well with the small screen. Stick with the iPad version, it is far superior.
Aside from those control issues, the game plays just as well as it did way back when, and the overall length of the game is just right, and is worth every penny. Great graphics and sound, plenty of variety and the interesting drawing mechanic all make this an experience that is well worth getting into.
Highly recommended, for the few old fans and those seeking a quality platform experience on iPad.
Now, how about Arabian Nights and Superfrog?