Originally entitled Dung Beetles, Tumble Bugs has been released for the two most popular gaming microcomputers by a company heretofore most famous as a publisher of adventure games. It is a maze game that embodies something of the flavor of Pac-Man, but it also possesses an interesting twist.
As with many programs available for both the Atari and Apple computers, Tumble Bugs seems a bit better on the former machines than on the latter. The Atari's superior sound capabilities and high quality joystick give it a little edge over the Apple II version, though that one is also excellent.
The opening screen in Tumble Bugs is riveting. A large beetle stares directly at the player, positively daring him or her to begin the attack. The computer then draws a large maze which must be memorized by the gamer during the brief period in which it is visible. When the game actually starts, only a small portion of the labyrinth can be seen at any one time. The program gives the player a magnified view of the hunk of maze currently occupied, while the rest stays surrounded in mystery.
As in Pac-Man and other maze-chases, Tumble Bugs requires the arcader to zip through the corridors and eat all the dots. Little aliens travel through the maze, too, buy they aren't very smart and can usually be avoided, at least in the beginning. The aliens get tougher to avoid, however, and they eventually pounce on the player with a cry of "gotcha"!
There's tremendous pressure to keep gobbling those dots, rather than navigating the maze in a pure contest of evade and capture. The action is timed and failure to keep munching will cause your score to decrease. Tumble Bugs' graphics and sound represent first class programming skill. The screen layouts are attractively done and pleasingly colored. The implementation of the magnifying glass effect is especially impressive. Even the on-screen scoreboard is shown in enlarged form when the glass passes over it in the course of high-lighting various sections of the playfield itself.
Bob Bishop has further enhanced his budding reputation as a member of the game programming elite with this fine effort. Highly recommended.