One of the greatest joys of being a reviewer is having an unknown game land in your lap that turns out to be something special. Your Doodles are Bugged! by Spyn Doctor is one of those titles. As the game opens, players are introduced to the titular doodles and the plight of Doodleus, a wizard with an incompetent assistant. The sorcerer’s apprentice has bungled and released the bugs onto the magic doodles, which were prepared for a wealthy patron. The story is told from the perspective of the blue bug (who also appears in each level, leading his people to the goal, a honey pot.
The bugs meander mindlessly back and forth, only turning when they can go no further. At the start of most levels, the poor critters are trapped in a confined area. Using a magic pen, you must draw lines for the bugs to traverse toward their destination. The game starts off rather simply with tutorial levels that do a great job of teaching the basics. Once you are let loose, though, the game becomes quite complex as the bugs tend to jump when they think they can reach a higher elevation. This might be triggered by a line that you have drawn, but it could also be something in the doodle itself causing the reaction. You’ll need to take this into account as you lead your flock.
The game can be played entirely with the mouse. Instead of a standard cursor, a giant pen floats above the doodle with a nifty simulated 3-D effect. Depressing the left button as you drag the mouse draws a line. Holding the right button erases. The scroll wheel is used to zoom in. On the right side of the screen are undo/redo and fast forward buttons. There are keyboard commands for each of these if you prefer. As you draw, the inkwell in the pen depletes. This provides for some tricky puzzles as you progress. You can restore your supply by erasing previous sketches. Often, you’ll be approaching the doodles in stages, moving the herd of bugs from one enclosed area to the next, in order to plan your next move. Thankfully, while the game resembles a cross between Lemmings and Kirby’s Canvas Curse, your bugs cannot die. If they fall to the bottom of the doodle, they simply walk on the solid black border.
The background music is eclectic featuring a wide variety of styles including classical Spanish guitar and klezmer. As the game handles drawn lines identical to doodle lines, it is entirely possible to accidentally encapsulate a bug or two. Fear not, though, as the developer has provided a simple tutorial for getting out of this miss (just erase the line). I loved that the developer planned for this eventuality and not only built it into the tutorial, but included a sound effect so you know when it happens (the poor bug cries for help).
Completing each level unlocks elements for use in the Doodle Studio. Not only do you get 25 levels, but there is a world of content on the Spyn Doctor website for download. Similar to Little Big Planet, users are encouraged to use the unlocked design elements to create their own Doodle puzzles. The Doodle Studio also provides a simple way for kids to play around with the game and make their own creations. My children were eager to push me out of my chair to get a turn making a playground for the bugs.
There is a lot packed into this title for a very reasonable price. It’s refreshing to find a new puzzle game that has a fun, light-hearted mentality. There is a lot of challenge here, but none of the punishing attitude that pervades the genre. If you like Lemmings, Kirby’s Canvas Curse, or the community-based nature of Little Big Planet, it’s worth checking out Your Doodles are Bugged!
Review copy provided by publisher.