Reviews of Bacteria 2
If you enjoyed the original Bacteria, you have got to try Bacteria 2! Bacteria 2 brings back much of the classic feel with a number of added twists, allowing for even more fun than the original.
Point, click, take over your opponents stones before he, she, or the AI takes over yours... sounds simple, right? WRONG! Every move that you make must be a calculated one or, with relative ease, the improved computer AI will overwhelm you, trapping you in corners and infecting the last remaining stones that you have left. The game can have its easy moments, but the overall game in itself is by far not so simple.
The classic "Single Player" mode is back, of course, but that is only the beginning. In the new Arcade mode, you can play 30 pre-designed levels which contain new "stones" not seen in the original game. Reaching one of these stones can easily alter the outcome of your current game. Of these, my favorite has to be the "bomb" stone: the computer has you trapped where it only needs one move to take over more of your territory; you however must turn any stone two or three times to dip into the AI's area. By the time you have made that many moves, the AI may take over even more area causing you to be even more trapped... but turning toward a bomb can change all of that! In one move, an explosion not only takes over a circular uninhabited area (and the stones connected to them) but possibly some of the stones in your enemies territory, causing a chain reaction which may turn the tables in your favor!
You now have the chance to play against your friends over a LAN or the Internet for much more interesting battles. Even the most complex AI can become predictable at times. Humans, on the other hand, are not. Do not forget to give this feature a try!
Unlike the original game, the AI now has difficulty levels. If you thought that the AI was too easy before, try a harder level for a greater challenge.
Bonus levels and cheats also make for a nice addition to extend the gaming experience (but remember... cheaters never win, so don't think that you will complete the most difficult Arcade levels that way!).
More of the same... but more. Although the look of the motionless stones has generally not changed, the animations of moving stones and especially the taking over of your opponents stones has been greatly improved. It can actually be fun to set up take-overs now merely to watch as the stones animate much more slowly as they infest one another. The animation of the menus and the intro screen also help give the game a much more professional look. The "last move" beacon, also a new feature in Bacteria 2, has its pros and cons: it is helpful in better-knowing the last move made by an opponent but can easily become irritating to see during a fast-paced game when you are certain of the opponents moves or a series of the moves are being made close together.
Simple and effective sound effects. Explosions, clicks, rattles, zings, and of course the AI-taunt may be the only sound effects in the game, but what more is needed? Each fits the game well for its own purpose. The music, though nice, does not seem to fit the theme of the game in my opinion, however. The light-hearted nature of the music during the intro fits perfectly, but that same music during gameplay does not have a similar effect for me which I felt should have been more dark or mysterious. But this, again, is only my opnion.
I have been unable to find any gameplay bugs except for a minor graphical one which may have been on purpose: you can press "V" to turn on/off the voice taunt, but there is no icon at the top-right of the menu screen which allows you to do the same (in case you forget that the shortcut key exists). It would also be interesting to see the ability to create your own customizable levels, but that is another matter for a far later version to be considered and possibly not very practical.
All in all, this is a great sequel to follow up what I consider to be a very entertaining and challenging puzzle game.
Great work, Simon (as well as Neverest for the music) and to all others who helped in the ideas, development, and testing of this great game!
Also available at the GMC
YoMamasMama @ Game Maker Games
I reviewed the original Bacteria, so I made a point to call dibs on it's sequel and see if Simon Donkers addressed the complaints I put forward in my critique.
Let's recap the cons of the first game. I summed it all up with this sentence in the conclusion: "The major drawback is that it feels like a tech demo. The lack of difficulty levels, unlockables, storyline, etc just makes it seem like a blueprint for something much bigger."
This is “something much bigger”.
The same strategic gameplay returns in this sequel, but a lot of bells and whistles have been expertly incorporated to expand the idea further. Now we are offered three modes of play, each more fun than the last, literally.
First, there's Single Player. This is the exact same mode from the original game, with one very important addition: difficulty levels. Although at first even the Easy AI level called checkmate on me before I knew what was going on, eventually I rose to a skill level where I could defeat this lowly adversary. Then I was left to be pummeled by the Normal level AI. Basically, this mode is the original Bacteria. If you liked the original and just want a nicer looking version with difficulty levels, here it is.
Second, there's Arcade. I don't know why this is dubbed "Arcade" while the previous mode gets "Single Player", because to me, this is definitely the main solo experience. It's the normal game, but with cool trick pieces, pre-determined board layouts, and a level system. There's a nice amount of stages (30), so if you like the game already, this mode will keep you occupied. If you didn't enjoy Single Player, though, this likely won't convert you.
And lastly, there's Multiplayer. Hot Seat works well, since you don't really have anything to hide from the other player that they could peek at when you aren't looking. But the online mode is where it's at. I played a match against a certain Mr. Lupi, and (despite receiving a thorough beat-down) I had tons of fun. It was lagless until the last of my red pieces was smothered by an ocean of green.
My only suggestion for the gameplay side of this series would be to take the plunge into 4-player wars. I really don't know what else another sequel could add.
This section of the review will be decidedly shorter. All I must relate to you is that Simon has upgraded every element of the game's interface substantially. The ever-looping music can get annoying after long play sessions, but it's easily muted. Perhaps several selectable (unlockable?) tracks could be made available in a sequel?
With such a simple concept at its core, it's surprising that Bacteria 2 feels like such a complete game. The replay value is definitely there, if you like the gameplay. Yes, the matches can drag on, but that’s expected with the turn-based strategy genre. Overall, an essential entry in any GM game collection.
Remember Othello? Right on the box of the edition that was around when I was kid was a phrase resembling this: A minute to learn, a lifetime to master. Flash forward to the present day. Othello and its many, many clones are all but forgotten. Then comes this dude named Simon Donkers, who made a game similar to, but very different from, Othello out of a game creation kit called Game Maker.
Most Game Maker games kinda suck. Donkers has proven that it's not the tool that determines the quality of the game, but the developer. Bacteria II is a deceptively simple game in which you take turns with an opponent, rotating little pegs on a massive grid. One player's pegs are green, the other's are red, and each peg can face a cardinal direction. When you turn a peg and it points to another peg, that peg turns your color. If that peg is currently pointing at another peg, you've created a chain. Chains of pegs can turn great swaths of the board to your color in one so-called swell foop.
Meanwhile, your opponent is doing the same thing: turning pegs. The player who completely wipes the opponent's color off the board wins.
Like Othello, this game takes a minute or so to learn. Its strategy runs deep, however, and while I don't know if it would take a lifetime to master, it's certainly challenging and addictive. And it's free.
The shocking elements first: Bacteria 2 was made using "GameMaker" and as a looser of the PISA-studies this game isn't something for you ;D
Not undeterred from this aspects? Gooood! For Bacteria 2 is providing puzzle-fun for young and the young at heart (regardless of female or male).
What to do? On a playground it is essential to capture some pellets with arrows in them. Clicking at such an arrow, it will turn around a "quarter clock" (90 degree clockwise) and then all blocks connected to this pellet will be inked in the players color. Although its as simple as that the AI-opponent is not to be underestimated. Even playing the easy difficulty a portion of practise is necessary for gain a win ;D.
If the AI-opponent is operating a way too clever or if you got bored you can match yourself with a human counterpart in the multiplayer mode of Bacteria 2 (using TCP/IP, Lan and I-Net). In arcade-mode you can again pit your strength against the AI-opponent but this time confronted with bombs and other specialblocks.
For controlling only a mouse is necessary: clicking an own pellet rotates it clockwise for 90° and after this action the opponents turn begins. Functions like fullscreen, music on/off etc. can be accessed via symbols but also the keyboard can be used for reaching this options.
Well, theres nothing to complain about when consider the graphics: clear gfx with nice effects, a tidy interface and good performance on older PCs too.
The one and only problem of Bacteria 2 is the music, although it is bearable in the beginning the shallow tootle is bothering soon and therefore you will mute it soon. For rapid remarking of the sound effects the derisive laughings will provide you with caprice in multiplayer-matches.