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Video Game / Bugdom

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Bugdom is a third-person Platformer developed by Pangea Software and released in 1999. It came preinstalled on second generation iMacs. In it, you play a cute little pill-bug named Rollie McFly, who is on a quest to free the land of Bugdom from the grip of the tyrant King Thorax and his legions of ant soldiers. On the way, Rollie must fight a variety of different bug-themed enemies, find colored keys that open specific leaf doors, kick open walnuts to collect useful items, and free ladybugs from spider-web cages.

Levels 1 and 2 are based on a lawn, level 3 takes place in a pond, levels 4 and 5 are set in a forest resembling a bug's interpretation of a garden, levels 6 and 7 are set inside a beehive, level 8 is akin to the lawn again but at night, and levels 9 and 10 are set in the anthill.

In late 2020, a hobbyist programmer, with Pangea Software's support, released a free and open-source version of the game for modern versions of Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux, which you can download from GitHub.

This game provides examples of:

  • Airborne Mook: The flying bees. The only way to kill them is by rolling at them while they're diving down to sting you, and when there's pools of deadly honey around every corner, this is not an easy task. You can run and dodge them fairly easily, but then they just follow you all over the level, constantly buzzing in your ear, which can get intensely irritating.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Friendly bugs include ladybugs and dragonflies, while enemy bugs include mosquitoes, red ants, bees, roaches, spiders, flies, and slugs. The ladybugs all wear pink high-heeled shoes and makeup, the drone bees die as soon as they fire their stingers (even if they failed to hit you), and the slugs are the slowest critters in the game. And true to his name and species, Rollie has the ability to curl up in a ball for added protection. (Though he can also roll around at high speeds, which real-life woodlice only wish they could do.)
  • Ant Assault: Fire ants led by King Thorax are the main antagonists in the game. They kidnapped the ladybugs, inhabitants of Bugdom, and kept them locked in cages. The main character's goal is to defeat their king and free the ladybugs from their captivity.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The spear ants will always run off to retrieve their spear, even if it means walking into a fatal substance like water or lava. And thank goodness for that, because it's the only way to get rid of the ghost ants on level 9.
  • Back from the Dead: If a spear ant dies in level 9, its ghost rises up from the body and comes after Rollie.
  • Bee Afraid: Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 all feature bees in one of three varieties (plus the Queen Bee boss in level 7), all of which are out to get Rollie.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Lots of dead bugs in this game, but no bug entrails to be seen.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The change in tone between Level 3 and Level 4 is pretty jarring. Level 3 has you riding a pond skater and fighting cartoony mosquitos, while in Level 4 the sky is red, the music is much more dramatic, giant human feet can crush you, you fight spiders that are far more realistic than any of the other enemies you've previously fought, and a bat can swoop out of nowhere and kill you instantly.
    • Inverted with the sequel, Bugdom 2, which makes things Lighter and Softer.
  • Checkpoint: Most levels will have a couple of large drinking straws with drops of water dangling off them. You jump and knock off the water drop to get the check point.
  • Chest Monster: Those little red bugs. Sometimes you'll kick open a walnut, hoping for something nice like a clover or a raspberry, only to get one of these bastards chewing on your rear.
  • Collision Damage: Some enemies — spiders, bee grubs, slugs, caterpillars, etc — can damage you just by touching you. Possibly justified since some of them are poisonous bugs.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Levels 8 and 9 feature anthropomorphic cockroaches that wear gas masks and give off a green toxic gas just from walking around (fortunately, it's very flammable, which can kill off any roaches caught in the gas when it catches on fire).
  • Cycle of Hurting: It's possible to get stuck in the landscaping, and if this happens when you're near a spear ant, you're in for a lot of stabbing. It can also happen if three or more spear ants gang up on you.
  • Damsel in Distress: The ladybugs, who are trapped inside cages of webbing and must be freed to increase the player's score.
  • Elite Mooks: Most ants are armed with just a spear, but some of the ones in levels 8 and 9 can fly and breathe fire.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Level 8 is a pretty harrowing experience because of this, although level 9 is arguably just as bad owing to the unkillable (unless lured into lava) ghost ants.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The drone bees may look muscley and intimidating, but once they've fired their one and only stinger at you, they drop down dead. All you have to do is jump out of the way.
  • Final Boss: King Thorax, the ant king.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Featured in level 4, the forest path, where people are walking around barefoot and will step on Rollie without noticing.
  • Giant Spider: Actually, they're regular-sized spiders, but since your character is a pill-bug, they come across being human-sized.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Queen Bee, naturally. She arguably is more difficult to beat than the Final Boss.
  • Goomba Stomp: The bee grubs die this way. Everybody else, though, is tough enough to require one or more kicks.
  • Green Hill Zone: Levels 1 and 2, the Lawn.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rollie and the mosquitoes wear sneakers, the ladybugs wear high-heeled shoes, and the boxing flies wear boxing gloves.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The final level — the boss fight with Thorax — is laughably easy compared to the hell you go through to get there.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In level 8, there are numerous cherry bombs and dynamite sticks scattered around. There are also lots of fire-breathing ants and poisonous roaches that emit a highly flammable gas. Both enemies are very difficult/impossible to beat if you attack them head on, but if you lure them over to the bombs, they do your work for you.
  • Hornet Hole: The level inside the beehive as well as the setting where the queen bee boss fight takes place considering you're still inside the beehive during that boss.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Beware the giant stomping feet of doom!
  • Insect Gender-Bender: The ants are ruled over by a king, and the beehive has a number of drone bees who act as muscley guards. On the other hand, the blood-sucking mosquitoes are stated to be all female.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Some of the walnuts contain colored keys that open corresponding leaf doors. The keys disappear as soon as you use them, but fortunately the doors stay open.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The water skeeters, slugs and caterpillars, although the latter two never waver from their prescribed routes so you're safe so long as you don't accidentally blunder into them or get impatient while walking behind one. Also, if you kill an ant on level 9, it will become an unkillable ghost ant. These are very frustrating because they can still do normal damage to you, but you can't even touch them because they're incorporeal. However, they can be lured into lava, which is fatal to them.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Losing all your lives or quitting the game treats you to a cutscene of King Thorax and the fire ants circling around a caged Rollie in the ant hill, with a lava ring around him. Given the game's difficulty, expect to see this cutscene a lot. Fittingly, winning the game lets you turn the table on Thorax, with him now being the one caged in a water moat while the ladybugs clap around him under King Rollie.
  • Kill It with Fire: Level 8 introduces fire-breathing winged ants, and level 10 features King Thorax, who's armed with a fireball-shooting staff.
  • Kill It with Water: Downplayed with King Thorax. Kicking a pipe and spraying him with water weakens him, putting out his fire and leaving him vulnerable to Rollie's physical attacks, but the effect doesn't last forever.
  • Lava Pit: The anthill is full of them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The anthill, which is full of lava pits that can only be avoided by swinging over them or going very tightly against the wall.
  • Level in Boss Clothing: Level 5 is completed by destroying the beehive at its centre, identical to how Queen Bee and King Ant are completed. The beehive cannot actually attack you, however, and the threats in the level consist of flying bees and various terrain hazards on the ground.
  • Lily-Pad Platform: Level 3 involves hopping from lily pad to lily pad and trying not to get eaten by fish.
  • Live Item: The buddy-bug, whom you obtain via walnut just like the inanimate powerups and who acts as a long-range missile.
  • Minus World: If you jump at a wall at just the proper angle, you'll end up in a weird mirror-land where all the landscaping is the same but all the walnuts and enemies are eerily absent. If you walk far enough, you'll end up in a white void.
  • Mook Bouncer: The fireflies, except they don't teleport you — they pick you up and carry you off to somewhere you absolutely do not want to be.
  • Mouse World: Large portions of the game take place in a grassy field. In some levels giant feet belonging to humans come down from the sky threatening to squish you.
  • One-Hit Kill: In level 4, if you fly too high on a dragonfly, a GIANT BAT swoops down and eats you. The fish in level 3 are a similar insta-kill.
  • 1-Up: Like everything else, you get them from walnuts.
  • Platformer: The whole game, but especially levels 6 and 9.
  • Power-Up: Raspberries restore your health, mushrooms restore your rolling time, and clovers increase your score.
  • Rolling Attack: When curled into a ball, Rollie can launch himself Sonic-style at enemies, knocking them back.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: The initial levels, though cartoony, are simply a grassland ecosystem seen from the perspective of a bug. Level 4's soundtrack signals the start of more fantastical elements, as the second half of the level has you ride a dragonfly like a fighter jet and lead an assault and infiltration of a beehive in the next levels. By the time you get to the last few levels, you're facing down ants that breathe fire, turn into ghosts, and are led by a King that wields fire magic like an evil wizard.
  • Stock Beehive: The bee hive featured in level 5 has the standard "stacked rings with a hole in one side" (plus a porch under said hole) appearance, and serves as the "boss" of the level (once it's blasted enough, it catches on fire, ending the level).
  • Super Drowning Skills: Zig-zagged — Rollie can swim just fine, and he can even jump across the surface of the water. Though it's dangerous to do so in parts of level 3, since the bug-eating fish are lurking below the surface. However, he will drown and die if he ends up in honey, slime or lava.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The menu screen music has a triumphant reprise in the winning cutscene.
  • Underground Level: Levels 9 and 10, inside the anthill.
  • Vine Swing: Level 9 features a variant in the root swing, where white roots hang from the ceiling and Rollie must use them to swing across lava pits.