Band of Bugs

Band of Bugs expansion ahoy

Band of Bugs expansion ahoy

Red Kingdom scurrying.

Developer NinjaBee has released a new expansion for popular XBLA title, Band of Bugs.

Dubbed Red Kingdom, it will cost you 250 points (GBP 2 / EUR 3), and shifts the focus of the turn-based strategical action down into the Southern Kingdom - where you can control new characters with nifty abilities. You'll also be able to take them to a higher level than before, control two new troop types - artillery and cavalry - and earn more achievements. Thank God.

Red Kingdom will be playable in single-player or co-operatively, as well as in multiplayer battles with your friends on Live. The level editor has been spruced up, too, with added desert tile sets and new items - like stone huts, rock formations, and all sorts of things insects normally crawl out from under.

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Band of Bugs

Band of Bugs

Insect royalty.

Moaning about the weather might well be a national pastime for the British, but there's one Very Good thing about being cold for much of the year: insects hate it. Unable to knit themselves little cardies and woolly hats, those big, bearded bugs would rather hang out a little nearer the equator. That's absolutely fine by me. I'll just put on an extra layer. It gives me the perfect opportunity to spend (even more) time indoors playing videogames in summer. Games like this rather spiffy turn-based strategy effort from NinjaBee - the developer behind Outpost Kaloki X and Cloning Clyde.

Given the worryingly low sales of the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem games in Europe, perhaps it's a genre with an image problem. "Turn-based strategy" hardly helps its cause; it's too literal a definition, and one that manages to make it sound like a nerdy boardgame with an arcane rule-set played at a deathly slow pace. The truth is more exciting, and far more addictive than most people imagine, and some time spent playing games in this overlooked category might surprise even the most hardened cynic.

Band of Bugs is as gentle an introduction to the genre as you'll ever see. It still features all the long-established play mechanics that every turn-based strategy game sports, but keeps them wonderfully accessible, and doesn't swamp you with too much information too soon. Warm of humour and dressed up in an art style half-inched from A Bug's Life, it's a simplified isometric take on the familiar premise where one army must defeat another, or achieve a set of specified objectives.

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