Review: Shadow Bug (Nintendo Switch)

The Nintendo Switch library continues to expand and each week we see a variety of new titles released onto the platform; and recently Muro Studios Nintendo Switch port Shadow Bug caught our attention. So what make this mobile / PC port worthy of our attention and more importantly is it worthy of your attention? Well read our review to find out!

  Title: Shadow Bug
Publisher: Muro Studios
Developer: Muro Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: English
Subtitles: English
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (2.3GB)

Our View:

Developed and published digitally by Muro Studios, Shadow Bug is a ninja-themed platformer with a difference and despite previously being released onto Steam, iOS and Android devices the game finds a ‘welcome’ new home as a digital download from the eShop for the Nintendo Switch.

Offering a ‘limbo’ styled vibe with its singular coloured characters and environments combined with artistic backgrounds Shadow Bug puts players in control of a ninja-themed bug and his fly partner in which they must work together to defeat the enemies that are destroying their natural habbit within the forest. The beauty of Shadow Bug is not just with its artistic style nature of the game but its with the simplistic – and extremely challenging – nature of the game.

On the outside Shadow Bug looks like a simplistic platformer, whereby players would simply use the D-Pad and the Jump Button to navigate the map and defeat enemies, but in actuality it is a combination of this and Motion Controlled (or touch-screen if playing in Handheld Mode) controls. In this case the analog stick on the Joy-Con (or Pro Controller) is used to move the Shadow Bug but the motion controls of the Joy-Con (or Pro Controller) is used to move the Fly over targets to highlight them; of which the attack button is used on the Joy-Con for the Shadow Bug to attack the enemy. The motion aspect can also be reconfigured at anytime by pressing Y; this means if it feels you are off-centre on the ‘pointing’ aspect you can correct it at any point during the game.

It seems confusing at first but within a matter of minutes the controls soon become second nature. Unfortunately however the in-game tutorial does little in the way of explaining this control method effectively and although it does say “point to move”  it’s not entirely easy to understand.  Another notable issue is that while the Pro Controller is supported it is not the ideal choice of controller for playing this game, as later levels do become fast-paced with you having to move the controller around a fair bit. With a Joy-Con controller this is easy, as it is small and movable, but with a clunky heavy contoller it proved to be more of a hinderance than a benefit.

To overcome this it would have been nice for Muro Studios to add a ‘manual control’ option for the fly; wherby the player uses the alternate analog stick in order to move the fly but sadly this is not the case. In hindsight this may have caused more problems with the game due to the fast paced nature of some later levels and even when the game loads up it depicts the two best methods for playing the game; touch screen and Joy-Cons. Regardless of the playstyle the control system does work; but better implementation and tutorial disecting may have been a better option.

So with control layouts sorted what exactly does one do? In this case players control the Shadow Bug through various chapters with each chapter featuring around ten missions and a boss fight. To make Shadow Bug even more competitive each mission is rated out of three shurikens (stars) with one shuriken awarded per mission objective achieved.

These objectives are seperated into Mission Complete, time trial, orbs collected and with a shuriken awarded for each one completed. Realistically these have no ‘alternate’ meaning other than to give older levels replay value.

As with any good platformer the levels steadily increase in both difficulty and speed as while the opening levels will focus entirely on getting to the ending point, of which is highlighted by a Japanese Shrine, the later levels will require skill, timing and insight. For instance within the second and third chapters cannons will fire enemies out into the sky so you’ll have to quickly lock-on and slice them in order to move to the next part.

In some instances this will happen several times and then combined with Fire Breathing Plants and Spikes you’ll soon find yourself respawning on a ‘more than you would care to admit’ basis; especially when it is ‘one hit death’ from anything.

This is just a typical platformer, as in it is designed to make your life difficult, but fortunately the game has no lives and continiously respawns you at dedicated checkpoints within the level. It is kind of a ‘win – lose’ situation though as while you have unlimited lives these checkpoints are relatively far apart, additionally the timer (for the time trial shuriken) continues to tick down.

This also rings true for boss battles as, just like the platforming games of old, one hit will see you return to the start of the boss fight. Fortunately these boss fights do fight in ‘patterns’ so after several retries you’ll know when to attack; but it demonstrates the limited functionality of a rather good platformer.

Overall Shadow Bug is not entirely what I expected; it’s a quirky platformer that looks (and plays) exceptionally well on the Nintendo Switch and while I had hoped for more traditional retro platforming gameplay, such as Sonic the Hedgehog or Rayman, it’s still a good platformer thats only held back by its limited approach and requirement of motion/touch controls. It’s good fun and well worth addition to your Nintendo Switch library; especially if you enjoy platformers.

Score: review-stars-3

Shadow Bug is now available to download from the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo Switch and is also available to download on Steam, iTunes and Google Play Store.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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