Monday, October 24, 2011

Game of the week: Lady Bug for Colecovision

In the early 1980s, Pac-Man brought fame and fans to the world of arcades like no game before had done, being a bigger hit than even the famed Space Invaders. This meant lots of quarters were being plugged in at the arcades, and other companies wanted to get in on the action. To that end, the company Universal Games in 1981 released its own maze game, Lady Bug.

Unfortunately, Lady Bug was not a hit at the arcades. Today it is mainly remembered among the home gaming market for its popularity on the Colecovision console, though there was also a version of the game for the Intellivision system made by Mattel.

It has been remarked by more than a few fans of the Colecovision system that the games for it were as good as those of the arcade, and that sometimes the Colecovision version of a game was better than that of the arcade. This is the case with Lady Bug.

In Lady Bug, the player controls a lady bug around a maze on the screen. There are other insects out to eat the player's lady bug, and to help with this there are several doors that can be opened or closed to block off the enemy insects, much as doors could be opened and closed in such games as Lock 'n' Chase and Mousetrap. The main object is for the lady bug to eat all the dots in the maze, just like in Pac-Man.

To spice things up a little, the lady bug can also eat bonus letters and bonus vegetables which help to build up the score by adding multipliers. When a vegetable is eaten, all the enemy bugs on the screen will freeze for a short time, allowing the lady bug some freedom. Also, the player needs to watch out for skull icons on the screen, as those are deadly to the lady bug, but they can also temporarily kill the enemy bugs and send them back to their little home in the center of the screen.

The action of Lady Bug is fairly commonplace by today's standards, but in the early 1980s it was a somewhat complicated game, at least compared to more simple maze games, the most logical comparison again being to Pac-Man. There was a lot going on on the screen, and it was not always easy to escape from the enemy insects. Still, this complexity is what made the game fun for a lot of fans who found other maze games too easy or too staid.

The Colecovision version of Lady Bug has gameplay at least equal to if not better than that of the arcade game. The graphics also are quite strong, though I personally think they are just a little weaker than the arcade version. The sounds here are excellent, especially the background music that seems to follow around the onscreen lady bug.

Lady Bug was one of the most popular of Colecovision games, and if you are a fan and/or collector of this system, you need to have at least one copy of the Lady Bug cartridge in your home gaming library.

No comments:

Post a Comment