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Portabliss: Bug Princess (iOS)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Bug Princess.

The iOS App Store has taken away almost all of the "mystique" from Cave games. For years, if you wanted to play one of the company's brilliant shooters, you had to find an arcade that had an import cabinet (good luck!) or import one of the console ports yourself, an effort that often required modifying your system. The scarcity added an element of allure.

Now, Cave games couldn't be more accessible. You can download a Cave shooter from anywhere you can get a wi-fi signal -- or even elsewhere, if you don't mind eating into your 3G limit. As if to symbolically mark the final transition from rare oddity to easily acquired pastime, Cave has renamed its 2004 shooter Mushihimesama to the notably less exotic Bug Princess for its iOS release.

Of course, despite these efforts toward accessibility of purchase, there's still the matter of being able to successfully play a Cave game, and ... surprisingly, that's been made accessible too, for those who fear the true "bullet hell" experience. That is, if you want to set it up to be easy.

If you'd like Bug Princess to be easy, you can turn the difficulty down to "novice." You can make it so that being hit by an enemy triggers a bomb to get rid of all on-screen projectiles. The controls are easy to understand -- you drag the screen to move your ship, and even have the option of shrinking the game window to make room for your fat finger. Otherwise, you have a couple of customizable buttons to issue "formation" commands to your collectible "option" drones, and to fire bombs.

For a game from 2004, Bug Princess is remarkable to look at. The giant bug enemies have a subtle 3D effect, looking as if they're towering above the distant ground. The whole enemy army is made of giant bugs, by the way. Crawling, flying, swarming, colorful giant bugs. You won't have much time to stare at them, with glowing purple bullets filling the screen, but they are striking to see. Of course, those hypnotic bullet patterns are pretty nice to look at too.

I would never have guessed that the most "casual" game system imaginable would become a boon for games like this, designed only for crazy people. I approve!

Bug Princess is available for $4.99 on the iTunes App Store. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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