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Escape From Bug Island – Wii

Escape From Bug Island – Wii

Note: I'm not actually playing the PAL version, I just couldn't get a good enough picture of my box art or any North American box art for that matter.

Note: I’m not actually playing the PAL version, I just couldn’t get a good enough picture of my box art or any North American box art for that matter.

Platform: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Spike 

Publisher: Secret Stash Games, Eidos Interactive (Depends on the version)

Release Date (NA): July 25th, 2007 

Genre: Survival Horror

Nerd Rating: 1.5/10

2006, a year of speculation and launch titles for the Wii. Among the titles at launch were classics such as Twilight Princess, and the predecessor to possibly the best game made for the Wii, Red Steel. Looking back at this list now shows me that the Wii didn’t really have many games to offer people at launch, especially in the North American region. But nevertheless, it sold. And a lot of the launch titles sold as well! But there was one noticeable launch game that was only in Japan, one that sold fewer than two thousand copies at launch. A game that could only be referred to as, Escape From Bug Island! Released originally in Japan as a Wii launch title, they somehow made an NA version that debuted in 2007. Developed by Spike, creators of such classics as DragonBall Z: Budokai: Tenkaichi, and Conception: Please Deliver My Child! (Don’t even want to know…) And published by a company called Secret Stash Games.  The game was immediately met with negative reception and poor sales in North America, quickly following the trend it had in Japan. This is a game I’d been looking for, for quite awhile. I love collecting terrible games that nobody has heard of, and this definitely fits the bill! Not only is this a rare item to find (I actually found it at a grocery store) but its also a horror game that I can mock and laugh at! So, grab some cockroach flavored popcorn, take a seat, and be ready for your story of the evening, the story of my review of Escape From Bug Island!

What gaming was like back in 2006.

What gaming was like back in 2006.

You play as Ray, this shy guy who really likes this girl named Michelle. And yeah, you go on a trip with her and your best friend, the Fonz! (Actually, his name is MIke,but hey, he looks like the Fonz!) And where are you headed? Paris? Egypt? Maybe New York? Nope. You’re going to a place called Bug Island! And why would you go to Bug Island?? I mean, the place has hotels with horrible Yelp reviews! Why would you waste your time going to a place called Bug Island? Michelle has to do research for a school project! (And risk your life in the process.) Now apparently, Michelle is really fascinated about bugs, like, she’s actually going to school to major in bug science. And you, Ray (you could also refer to him as derpforbrains) tag along because you think its dangerous or something, and you convince Mike to come along because, well, I’m not actually sure. The game isn’t very good at explaining what the hell is going on actually, and a lot of what I’m saying is more my speculation, and me reading the game manual (which I had to find online) more than anything else. Mike and Michelle wander off for Mike to tell her he likes her, and boom, you’re left alone. After awhile of them not coming back, Ray decides to investigate, and that’s where the real fun begins!

Ray is having a staring contest with King Kong. Much more fun than actually trying to fight it.

Ray is having a staring contest with King Kong. Much more fun than actually trying to fight it.

Now I feel kind of silly for this, because I’m not sure how many of you are going to actually want to pick up and play this game, but I am going to issue a spoilers warning right here just in case you don’t want anything spoiled for you. If you don’t care, then read on! Basically, the game tries to develop into, what I call, a “Fake Branching Paths” game. And what’s that? Well, think of it this way. I consider a “Real Branching Paths” game, Heavy Rain, because, based on your choices, the game can, indeed alter and form around whatever you’ve picked. In this game, however, there’s just…no ending really. The game tries very hard to feel like there’s different choices to be made, because, yeah, depending on how you play the game, certain characters may die, or not die, but from what I gathered, you HAVE to get to the ending with all characters alive for you to really get much of an ending. I only played through the game twice. Once where none of the other inhabitants survived, and once where all of them did. Pretty much, if you finish the game where none of them survive, the game just starts over for you to try again due to this odd, out of place time travel subplot. If you do finish the game with some of them alive (which I just found out is possible) you get different sorts of copout endings as well, but this is rather out of place just the same, especially due to the grueling nature of the game!

Our three stooges for the game. Girl, Fonz, and Average Guy!

Our three stooges for the game. Girl, Fonz, and Average Guy!

 I know, this is getting kind of odd, but the game is just, so poor with its narrative, that I’m just genuinely confused as to what it was trying to get across, and man I tortured myself through 25 hours of gameplay for this review. Its just…sooo… confusing! The plot (or what little of it is here) is just a sidewinding path left for the interpreter to figure out for himself. It has little to no development, and really just feels like a rushed concept a third grader presented for a short story. Its just, a mess. None of the characters feel like real people, all of them have one or two traits really, and then nothing else. Ray is probably the most uninteresting protagonist I’ve ever had the misfortune of playing as, and has little to no dialogue or development in the entire game. He has no connections, no relationships with any others that spark any sort of interest out of the gamer, and that is inexcusable. In this day and age, every game has to have some sort of narrative, something to draw its gamers to the source material, and make them feel integrated with the world of the game itself, and this game’s story just fails worse than i’ve ever seen.

I might be more afraid of these insects if they weren't blurry and the gameplay didn't keep making me laugh.

I might be more afraid of these insects if they weren’t blurry and the gameplay didn’t keep making me laugh.

I think E.T on the 2600 had a better narrative than this. I think PK: Out of The Shadows had a better narrative than this. Hell, I even think Penn and Teller’s Desert Bus had a better storyline than the one displayed in this game.Its just, unforgivable just how much of a mess it is. Its hard to even express it in simple terms. You go to an island with a girl and your friend, they wonder off, hijinks ensues with a giant gorilla and killer bugs. You escape with the survivors. The End. Like, seriously Spike? Seriously? Nothing more than that? And then when you fail, you throw in this lazy time travel thing to make us restart the game? Are you really that low and cheap? Do you really just not care? I swear, if I could, I’d go Texas Chainsaw Massacre on this game’s story! It’d be Friday the 13th on Elm Street for this game’s plot! It’d be Hallo-…. I’m getting too ahead of myself here. Maybe to calm myself down, we can discuss the gameplay of this game?

Look, even Mike is ready to use his Fonz powers to shoot this game!

Look, even Fonzy is ready to shoot the game.

If the story was a complete failure, the gameplay might be actually one step ahead on the failure scale. The story didn’t try, and the gameplay did the complete opposite of what “trying” is supposed to be. I don’t know how many of you remember the primitive motion controls the Wii had during its first two years or so, but no game better displays that broken nature, than Escape From Bug Island. Basically, you go ape shit with the Wii remote at every possible moment, and hope that it does things. You swing melee weapons at insects, and half the time, something as simple as that doesn’t work. Playing the game is just too hard, and its not because of the challenge of the game either. Its not because the game is rewardingly difficult. It is merely because it is nearly impossible to play because everything is broken. The motion controls especially. Whenever you want to do ANYTHING, you have to rely on the clunky swinging mechanics, or the various other things the game wants you to do with the Wii remote. Its just, grueling.

Just a casual stroll down Bug Island

Just a casual stroll down Bug Island

I wouldn’t recommend this as even a curiosity look for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves good at video games. I had to get extremely used to the controls, so much so that I had to restart several times before completing the game perfectly. It made me want to rip my hair out. Not since Ghosts N Goblins had I played a game so painful and grueling. But while that game was innovative and fun, Escape From Bug Island feels like a chore. Every single thing you do in the game just feels like a chore, like there’s something more fun you could be doing but you can’t figure out what it is. You know that feeling you get when you’re playing Oblivion or something, and you’re doing this really boring side mission because you have to? Imagine an entire game like that, only nothing works, and you can’t do fun things after the boring side mission is over. Run, swing, and cross your fingers the stars align in your favor, because realistically, the gameplay is so broken, you won’t be able to beat the game on skill alone.

The dark and uninteresting, Bug Island!

The dark and uninteresting, Bug Island!

 Now, after playing the game a bit yourselves, you might tell me that the game isn’t challenging. I mean, the gameplay is optional. Killing insects just give you purple orbs, so really, you could just run from point A to point B, right? But no! The purple orbs are mandatory to playing the game. Don’t ask me why. Figure it out yourself. Let me just tell you that it took me a long time to truly piece together what they did, the only hint was from the manual, saying something like, “If you collect these purple orbs, something good will happen!” Cryptic and douchey at the same time! Well played Spike! Now that i’ve covered the story, gameplay and controls, the only things left to really cover are the aesthetics. The graphics are poor, the developers used a low light and a fog to draw the player’s eye away from the poor graphics, but they’re still apparent. Even for a Wii title,, the graphics are beyond disappointing, especially when you compare them to the likes of other graphics for early games on the console, hell, even Wii Sports for God’s sake. And how about the music?

Escape From Bug Island 2 for the Wii U! Now with more suckage!

Escape From Bug Island 2 for the Wii U! Now with more suckage!

Well, its not the worst i’ve ever heard, but its pretty mediocre, and can get incredibly annoying after a good bit. As for the character design, I’m amused they made Mike look a bit like the Fonz, but, I can’t really say I liked the look of anyone else. Most of the others looked…ordinary. And a lot of the enemy designs were poor as well. I’m not quite sure where the fear in all this is supposed to come into play. Like, sure, giant bugs would be scary. But the derpiness of the gameplay just make it..funny. And the dialogue, what little there is, kind of follows that same pattern. Hilarious. But for all the wrong reasons. The design elements show no effort put into anywhere, and I’m honestly shocked the game developers can even claim to have “developed” this game. They more or less ate a terrible, bug burrito and barfed out a game from it.

Me and the bugs both want Ray dead.

Me and the bugs both want Ray dead.

Well, there really isn’t much else to say about this game other than that it was the worst horror video game I could possibly even imagine. Its story is basically non existent, most of it coming from the game manuals, the gameplay is broken, completely boring, and absolutely lacking anything worth seeing from motion controls, and the overall design of the game is flawed, and feels like a team of people who had no idea what they were doing worked on it. The story, the characters, the gameplay. I’ve never come across something so oddly bad in my life. It isn’t the worst video game i’ve ever played, but its definitely the worst horror video game i’ve come to know in my life. Escape From Bug Island earns its 1.5 out of 10 rating from me, as sheerly one of the worst games ever devised.

Written by JMSutherland

J.M. is a traditionalistic writer with a love of video games and storytelling. Born and bred in the heart of Southern Arizona, J.M. grew up on stories around campfires and old cowboy tales. He was also brought up on PlayStation and Nintendo and has high regard for video games as not only gameplay driven experiences, but as the most effective storytelling medium to boot. A study in all things gaming, J.M. considers himself a “video game historian,” knowing everything there is to know about the industry and the history of said industry as well.

When he’s not writing reviews and gaming, J.M. enjoys comics, classic movies, pro wrestling, and generally being a cynical, critical mind. He is also a published poet and lover of fiction writing, so you may find him crafting novels, short stories, and poetry as well.

If any readers have any questions for J.M. please direct them at:


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