Game Review: Travel Bug (PS Vita)

Game Review

Travel Bug is a unique discovery app available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. There is something refreshing about a game with Travel Bug’s premise as it allows you to interact with creatures in a way that many people never consider doing so. This game allows you to bond with a creature as you set out on a journey of your choosing with full customisation of your creature’s look.

You can set your creature on its way by navigating the journey map and setting a location for it to travel to, although it will require the help of other players to help it along the way. You will have to make sure that your bug is well fed and happy as if you tap the bug on the touch screen; it will tell you who hatched the bug, how far it has travelled and how it is feeling, such as happy or sad.

The currency of the game is called Bugmiles and can be exchanged for food, costumes and the creation of more bugs. In order to keep their strength up, you can feed your creature cake for fifty Bugmiles, pie for twenty-five Bugmiles or toast for ten Bugmiles. You can purchase a new larva to be placed on the leaves of your branches to help create a new bug for fifty Bugmiles. However, if you do not have enough Bugmiles, then you will need to purchase them via microtransactions from the PlayStation Store, although you can earn Bugmiles from the progression your bug makes on its journey with more Bugmiles awarded for a further level of progression in regards to the amount of miles travelled.

There are many customisable costumes for your creatures, such as various styles of trousers, shorts, t-shirts, glasses, hats, shoes and more besides that all range from ten Bugmiles all the way through to a rather expensive 5,000 Bugmiles. All of the different costumes can be combined in any form, such as any t-shirt, any trousers or shorts, any shoes with or without glasses and a hat with that level of character customisation providing a redeeming quality to the game. The only detraction from the feature is that you may have to purchase Bugmiles via microtransactions in order to do a lot of your character customisation if you are unable to find anyone else to help your bug on its way, as the Bugmiles that are provided at the start of the game are only enough for limited customisation. It is also important to note that there are more costumes available via downloadable content from the PlayStation Store with a set of festive Christmas costumes available for just £0.59 with the costumes including: hats, shoes, glasses and jumpers that are all inspired by Christmas themes.

You can launch the Vita’s Near application at any given time to see if there are any bugs nearby to your location to see if you can feed and customise guest bugs before sending them back on their way. Facebook integration allows you to post a picture of your bug or a guest bug from your photo album onto your Facebook wall at any given time. The pictures can be customised by choosing any one of a number of poses for your bug, followed by placing it in front of whatever background you choose, such as it randomly being placed in your living room or kitchen, perhaps next to an action figure or teddy bear or even perfectly positioned within one of your photographs or a scene from your favourite television series, while it is paused on your television, which certainly adds the possibility of some very creative combinations.

The controls are quite simplistic with everything consisting of navigating the menu screens via touch screen controls, such as tapping the previous branch icon to the left centre of the screen; tapping the next branch icon to the right centre of the screen; tapping the find bugs icon to the top left of the screen; tapping the journeys icon to the top right of the screen; tapping the album icon to the bottom left of the screen; tapping the online leaderboards icon to the immediate right of the album icon; tapping the camera icon to the bottom right of the screen; tapping the sync icon to the immediate left of the camera icon; tapping the help icon to the bottom centre of the screen; and many more besides.

The cartoon style graphics are not exactly realistic, although this is not based in the simulation genre, so it does not create any problems for the look of the game. In fact, the cartoon style graphics actually provide the game with a lot of charm to its visuals; alongside lots of bright, vibrant colours that really shine through on the Vita’s five inch touch screen.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, journeys map, online leaderboards and photo album, which also incorporates support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons depending upon which menu you are attempting to navigate. The background of the menu screens looks very colourful and vibrant as they contain a luscious green forest in the background and branches with leaves in the foreground of which one branch will contain your creature.

The audio mostly consists of the ambience of a lively habitat with a variety of different creatures with flies and bees buzzing and birds tweeting, while the relaxing music somewhat ties in with the theme of the game to have fun and enjoy the experience of a journey with a variety of creatures.

The trophy list includes eight trophies with four bronze trophies, two silver trophies and two gold trophies. You may not necessarily find the majority of the trophies easy due to how long and how much effort and endurance is required, but as the game is essentially open-ended; it means that all of the trophies will be naturally earned through continually playing the game. The first trophy will be earned rather quickly as you will earn the Customiser bronze trophy for customising one of your bugs. The trophies are mostly aimed at helping your bug and guest bugs travel a certain amount of miles, which is not as easy as you may initially believe as it really depends upon other players being online and what location they are in to help your bug on towards its chosen destination and if there are any guest bugs available within your area for you to help on towards their chosen destination too. Providing that you can find any guest bugs, the easier trophies also include the Generous Customiser bronze trophy for customising a guest bug and the 1st Miler bronze trophy for helping a guest bug to travel one mile.

The hardest trophies involve travelling for much longer distances, such as the Marathon Runner bronze trophy for your bug travelling a total distance of 26 miles; the 1,000 Miler silver trophy for helping your bug and guest bugs travel a combined distance of 1,000 miles; the Around the World silver trophy for helping your bug and guest bugs travel a combined distance that is greater than the circumference of the world; the Well Travelled gold trophy for unlocking all of the distance based trophies; and the World Beater gold trophy for topping an online leaderboard. I would estimate depending upon the availability of a boosting partner or knowing someone that owns the game from your PSN friends list to help you with how far your bug has travelled and how far you are helping guest bugs travel and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take most likely over five-hundred hours to 100% the trophy list.

There is a complete online multiplayer component and online leaderboards. The online multiplayer is essentially what makes Travel Bug the game that it is as it allows you to share your creature with other players who can then feed and provide further customisation to your creature, then set it on its way to continue its journey. The online leaderboards focuses on global rankings and friend rankings with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; their score representing how far their bug has travelled; name (PSN ID); and the date for when their bug set the recording of having travelled the furthest.

The major staples of Travel Bug’s replayability revolve around the unique approach of the game, as it is effectively always connected to the outside world via the Vita’s Near application, alongside the customisation features for the creatures you and other players have created.

Overall, there really aren’t many games available that contain the same subject matter as Travel Bug, so based upon that it is easy to recommend, especially considering it is free to download. If you are a fan of anything reminiscent of Tamagotchi games or like to look after pets or animals, then Travel Bug is definitely for you.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Travel Bug
  • Publisher: Lucid Games
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes (Sharing bugs and online leaderboards)
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 100Mb (Version 1.01)

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