Buggle


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Rating: 4.7/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (91)

PsychotronicBuggleBuggle? What the heck is a buggle? Let's consult Psychotronic's Imaginary Dictionary:

Buggle [buhg-uhl]
  -noun
  1. Informal. a hybrid dog resulting from the union of a Boston terrier and a pug.
  2. an exceptionally simple multiplayer game of territory acquisition playable at The Casual Collective, an online community based around the games of two-man design team Novel Concepts.
  3. a bouncy, lovable puffball of fun that squeaks when you touch it and wants to be fwends wiv yoooooo!

Okay. Why don't we dispense with the dog thing for now and just concentrate on the last two definitions? You can discuss dog breeds in the comments if you want to.

The game of Buggle pits 2 to 4 players against one another to see who can befriend the most buggles (which are sort of like ambulatory cloudberries with faces) over the course of 10 rounds. Each round begins with 60 of the little nippers bouncing around in a rectangular play field. Eventually, they will pause and wait for you to pick a location for your control point, which is your primary means of buggle recruitment.

Once each player has decided on a location (or 30 seconds go by), the buggles pick sides. Any buggle within range of your control point converts to your color. Then buggles close to the converted buggle change colors themselves, and so on. Like rapidly growing trees, your lines of influence spread throughout buggle-kind, while your opponents' lines do the same. This all happens in a heartbeat, except for the occasional stragglers who have to bounce around a bit more before coming into range.

BuggleThen everybody gets to add a second control point to the field, and all the buggles choose sides again. The number of buggles you have managed to convert to your own color is added to your score, and whoever has the highest total after 10 rounds, wins.

Analysis: Buggle is a triumph of succinct design. What at first appears to be a luck-based exercise in random clicking gradually reveals itself as a game of intuition and strategy. Like in poker or fencing, you can dominate a game of Buggle by learning your opponent's play style and staying one step ahead. If he goes for the center of the largest cluster of buggles every time, you can reliably cut him off from the rest of the swarm.

Playing against multiple opponents raises the luck factor, but even then you will have a noticeable advantage if you can predict your opponents' moves. If you want a game with more focus, create a game of Super Buggles, in which a Light Buggle and a Dark Buggle will reward you with bonus points or negative points respectively.

But whether you interpret Buggle as a grueling test of will or as a lightweight crap-shoot, it is a whole lot of fun watching a single mouse click spread joy along chains of buggles. It feels organic and direct, like a refined gameplay mechanic should.

There's not a lot of window dressing in Buggle, but the simple brilliance of the concept doesn't need much adornment. There's a rewarding upbeat vibe to the whole thing. The buggles squeak like irresistible chew-toys when you pass your mouse over them, so it's sometimes tempting just to wave your pointer randomly around and pretend you have yourself a little dust bunny choir. If Buggle 2 has them squeaking different notes, it will be almost too cute to stand.

Play Buggle

17 Comments

Great review, Psychotronic, and it's of a great game. I'm slowly getting better at the game, but there are some very good players out there. I recently had a great game I ended up wining by a very small margin, we kept going back and forth, and were even near tied by the 9th round. It is a lot like a fencing match - lose ground to gain it.

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page January 3, 2008 5:48 PM

This game is just frustrating. It's a lot of fun if you're lucky enough to win. Otherwise, it just makes you mad that you had such a great strategy, but somebody else had it a fraction of a pixel to the left.

I have to disagree a little that it's organic. It actually felt much stuffier than I had hoped. I can't put my finger on it, but something isn't quite right.

Not a terrible game by any means, but I don't think it'll get my vote in the "Best of 2008." :)

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Sheesh. An entry in the "geez-am-I-old" category.

Here I thought the Buggles were the group that were featured in the very first music video to play on MTV -- "Video Killed the Radio Star".

Can't remember where I put my car keys, but I remember useless garbage like that.

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JustMe, THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one with "oooh AAAAAAh....the radio staaaaaar..." going through my head. You're not alone in the geez-I'm-Old category. :)

As for the game, it was a nice little few minutes of colour and silly music. I don't know if I'll go back to it; it doesn't have that much of a replay factor.

*now where the heck are MY keys....?*

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Multiplayer Boomshine...fun!

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Really great game. I hate when there's more opponents, and you get stuck in the middle, while the 3 around you (who are, by the way, a pixel apart) get all the Buggles. When I first played it, I thought, "... why am i so stupid all of a sudden?" And I played some other "stratagy" game, just to make sure it was the game and not my brain that was the problem. Gradually, you can come to enjoy this game. I dislike the 2nd control point - you can play and grab 75% of all the Buggles, but then you place your second one, and ... eh, well, then you lose all your Buggles. Perhaps a way to add your first Buggle control center score to your second score? Also, sometimes you may be able to predict what your opponent will do - there's always one obvious spot that most people would place their control center. But then that is the ONLY spot that is good. So then it all comes to this: should i place my thing a little bit to the left, or to the right? To the up, or down? Anywere else, and you won't get enough Buggles. I suppose the best strategy would be to plan ahead for you second move, rather than carefully examining what you opponents will do on the first. But overly fun. I think it does have a good replay value. You need to be pretty patient though.

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I love this game - even if it doesn't let me play anymore... My registration worked fine for like a week (I registered when i discovered it thru jayisgames' review of another game of this site) - but then as I was trying to log in as usual I was informed that my registration isn't activated.

WTF???

I played for days without problems and then the site realized my registration is not activated???

Just to worsen the case, I sent an email to the site's developer - long days ago - but no reply has arrived as for yet...

Pity because I really like this game...

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page January 3, 2008 11:59 PM

@bioLarzen:

The site sends an email with an activation link, but it lets you play for a while (I assume) before you click it. I haven't clicked my activation link, and I can play for the time being. I guess they want you to be able to play right away rather than waiting for your email and having to leave the site. Did you maybe overlook it?

@pieguy:

I think you hit on what I don't like about the game. Boomshine definitely has that organic feel, but this just feels like *klonk*, *klonk*. I think if it actually was more like a multiplayer Boomshine, I'd like it more.

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BuenoCabra,

as I remember I activated my account.

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Well I for one think it's a fine game with a great replay factor, especially with the little points you get from winning. The rules are quite simple but placing the second point (hint, hint, Ainegue) adds so many little complexities it takes forever to master. By around 50 points I was thinking about who would attack whose structure (only the ones in the circle are safe) and where if it were me, since most Buggle players think alike (hence the 1 pixel off victories); and this was only the second day!

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Anonymous January 8, 2008 8:59 PM

I will never ever register in a site just to play a game

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All Your Buggle Are Belong To Us!

No, really, this is a great game. I don't see what the big deal is. The Casual Collective is a great site. No cost, no spam, no anything with registration. And now that Flash element TD2 came out, it's even better!

Somebody set us up the buggle!

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LINK TYPO! The one for the last screenshot.
should be http://www.casualcollective.com/games/Buggle/lobby
it send you to http://www.casualcollective.com/games/Buggle/lobbyy (which is blank and doesn't exist)

Oh, and i've discovered a new strategy for Buggles, that works if you have a few people playing, and they all have a pretty simular frame of mind.

Place your buggle away from where you think everyone else will place theirs, so you collect alot, but over a wide range. The next move everyone else will fight to steal your buggles. Then put the second control point by their 1st control points, stealling all their buggles, while they fight over yours. It's also a good way to see your oppenents strategy, because you'll quickly know which player is smart enough to anticipate this Buggle war, or have a similure strategy as you.

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Thanks for the Q/C Ainegue! :D

Fixed.

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Unfortunately that strategy doesn't always work, for as you'll see with more advanced players EVERYONE has that strategy unless there's a clump of buggles too tempting to resist. Choosing your point of play takes going through a complex method of judgement vs. other players thus proving you are smarter than a super computer. Or you can just guess; you have just as much chance of winning. It's as much luck as skill. Of course, this being one of the few (multiplayer) games in existence where experience counts, just playing over and over either increases your luck, or it does involve skill. Either way I seem to have gotten better. I'm not complaining.

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This game has about as much luck as Rock Paper Scissors, and depending on how much luck you think Rock Paper Scissors has, that could mean a couple different things.

Most people think that RPS is based completely on luck. But when they built a computer that made completely random moves, it immediately lost to a strategic opponent. Buggles is just like that: doing this randomly isn't going to work. In Rock Paper Scissors, some people watch their opponents hands, use reverse psychology, or yell really loud and distract their opponent so that they forget what their doing and do the easiest move that comes to mind, which is Rock. Buggles is like that as well: You can watch what your opponent always does and detect a pattern, or just use your next best move, or guess what your opponent is going to do and counter it, or just start a long distracting conversation with them using the Chat, so that they only have 3 seconds to place their buggles, forcing them to rush and place it in the first most obvious clump of Buggles available.

Behind its cloak of luck, I still think that Buggles is really a game of skill.

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Is this game still in existence? The link is now broken, and none of the games listed on the Casual Collective site are Buggle... a pity, as I really enjoyed this one!

[Thanks for the note, I've hosted the game and updated the links in the review above, but I'm not sure how well the multiplayer will work any more. I've also hosted several other Collective games we've reviewed over the years. -Jay]

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