Bug Princess for iPhone and iPad: Insects and Royalty collide in this Bullet Hell Shmup

By Bulent Yusuf on at

Put that fly swatter away, kiddo. This ain't no ordinary creepy crawly dirt-dweller. This here is Bug Princess, an old-school shoot-em up from Japan that requires big guns and big bombs to carve your way through a non-stop swarm of hostile insectoids. It belongs a sub-genre of shmup that's been quaintly labelled as "Bullet Hell"; it's not an understatement.

How does it play?

Using one touch controls at the base of the screen, you guide your ship through a vertically scrolling onslaught of bugs, beetles and dragonflies. Fire is automatic, so all you need to worry about is dodging glowing purple bullets and collecting orange crystals for points. You have three lives, each with an energy bar, and without quick reflexes it'll game over before you can even blink.

Help is at hand, however. Collect power-ups and you'll be granted one of several satellite drones that orbit around your ship, firing massive lasers in support. Collect more than one, and you can start deploying them in formations; use them to concentrate fire on a single spot, or lay down a sweep of destruction to clear loads of enemies at once.

You can also deploy smart bombs, which eradicate everything on the screen. If you neglect to use them, the game will drop them automatically when your energy bar drops to a certain level. It's a pretty canny form of self-preservation, and allows you to concentrate further on dodging the frankly ridiculous number of bullets raining down upon you.

Why do we like it?

Bug Princess is a good looking game, with sophisticated 2D parallax scrolling and neon explosions making the carnage look pretty. But it's also super-super-tough, where even the easiest difficulty setting will cause some consternation. If you are preternaturally gifted in the trigger finger dept, you can use the Game Center/OpenFeint leaderboards for bragging rights online.

This is just the latest in a stream of arcade ports from developer CAVE. They specialise in digging up classic, obscure shooters and retuning them for touchscreen devices. They've been doing a spectacular job of it so far, and Bug Princess is perhaps their finest hour.


Bug Princess is available on the App Store, Universal (£2.99)