Elroy Goes Bugzerk

Review by Jen

Elroy Goes Bugzerk is rated for ages 8 to 98. I fit in there somewhere in the middle, so I thought I'd give it a shot. (Good thing I'm not 99 or I'd have to give it a miss.) Turns out this is one of them edumacational kind of things, about yucky ol' bugs, but it's presented nicely.

The main character is Elroy (well, duh, I know you knew that, I was just testing you), a boy who loves bugs. Every year, he enters a bug contest, and every year he wins. This year, however, his arch-nemesis, Gordon Smugs, has an unbeatable bug, and Elroy doesn't know how he's going to compete. And on top of that, on the very weekend of the contest, his parents fob him and his blue dog, Blue, off on a nameless farmer while they go do some kind of yoga retreat. But all is not lost; once on the farm Elroy catches a glimpse of that rarest of bugs, the technoloptera; if he can catch it, he is certain to win the contest. And the game's afoot.

Gameplay consists of choices for the most part. There is no inventory; you must simply choose the right things in the right order to progress through the game. There are a lot of clickable areas that give you some interesting information about bugs, and you'd best be paying attention because there will be a quiz ... or two ... or three. Every once in a while in the game, you must correctly answer a short series of questions about bugs to continue.

The graphics are surprisingly pleasing. They are kind of a cross between Blue's Clues and South Park, with those collage-y kind of animated cutouts. Sometimes they are superimposed on sepia or gray photos, and I don't know why this combination works, but it does.

The voice acting is pretty good, too. Nobody sounds like they're reading, and none of the characters are over the top. The blue dog Blue talks, and he sounds just like Eeyore, or maybe Mr. Ed. Elroy sounds like he smokes too many cigarettes (bad boy!), but I suspect the voice actor is a cigarette-smoking adult trying to sound like a kid instead of an actual cigarette-smoking kid (one would hope that is the case, anyway). There is little or no music in the game; if there was any, I really didn't notice it. The sound effects work well throughout.

This is a Macromedia game that plays directly from the CD. Thus, it seems unlikely that there would be any kind of installation difficulties. I did have some trouble with fuzzy audio at first, but turning down my sound card's hardware acceleration took care of that.

The one thing that I really didn't like about the game was the (sort of) console-style save system. Although you can save at any point in the game, you have to restart at the beginning of the scene in which you saved. This game has some lengthy cut scenes that you can't "esc" out of, and there is a lot of restarting because you lose the game every time you make a mistake. I sure got tired of hearing the same things over and over as I was puzzling my way through. Also, you can't just plain save; you have to save and quit at the same time and then restart the game.

One thing I really did like about the game is that it's family-friendly. It's not too dumb for adults or too difficult for kids; the designers managed to strike a nice balance. Not an easy accomplishment, and my hat's off to Headbone for pulling it off.

In the end, it always boils down to that one burning question: Was it fun? Yes. Elroy Goes Bugzerk was a very pleasant way to while away an afternoon. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Headbone Interactive
Publisher: Headbone Interactive
Release Date: 1995

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

33 MHz 486 or better
Windows 3.1 or 95
640×480, 256-color display
2X CD-ROM drive
Windows-compatible sound card, speakers, and mouse

25 MHz 68040 or better
System 7 or higher
640 × 480, 256-color display
2X CD-ROM drive

Where to Find It

Playing Games 5.95

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