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Dr. Mechano

Bug Fables

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Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling - which was released on PC back in November - just came out on consoles. For those unfamiliar, Bug Fables is a turn-based RPG that's very much in the vein of the first two Paper Mario titles; low stat numbers, timed action commands in battle, playable partners with unique attacks and on-field abilities, and an intricate "badge" (in this game medals) equip system that allows a great deal of customization over your characters' stats.

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Like Paper Mario, your characters have three stats - Hit Points, Teamwork Points (Expended to use special attacks), and Medal Points. Each Medal in the game costs a certain number of MP to equip, so leveling your max MP and collecting a variety of medals with different effects can lead to some pretty varied builds for your party. Players have a lot of choice in what strengths they want to focus on, and since Medals can just be swapped out on a whim, you don't have to commit permanently to these buffs; If you'd rather trade higher immunity to poison for higher max HP, or swap out boosted defense for boosted attack, just open your Medals menu and equip as desired. 

Unlike Paper Mario, you will not be recruiting 8 or so partners. You play as a team of three characters for the entire game, each with their own special ability. Vi the Bee can hit flying enemies, and throws a boomerang on the overworld. Kabbu the Beetle can pierce enemy defenses, and on the field can use his horn to slice through objects. Leif the Moth wields ice magic, which is useful both offensively and to freeze water and enemies on the field to solve puzzles. You can swap out the party leader with the press of a button to utilize each member's unique field ability, which is a bit like the Mario and Luigi games.

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Of course, that's just their gameplay applications. As characters, your playable party is quirky and memorable as well. Vi is a bit selfish and prideful, but never to the point of being unlikable. Kabbu is a levelheaded warrior who frequently has to reign Vi in, and he's also got a bit of a soft side for cute things. Leif is dignified and noble, even going so far as to use the royal "we" when speaking - and also proves to be a knowledgeable, scholarly type. The three of them play off each other's personalities well, and really do feel like a group of traveling friends.

Also, this game has tons of optional dialogue. You can have party conversations for every map, nearly every NPC, and each of the three party members has their own unique commentary for every enemy in the game. I feel like this kind of thing goes a long way to fleshing out the characters while still making it something the player has to "opt in" to; if you want to just breeze through the main story, you totally can! But if you take the time to enjoy all the side conversations, you can really dive deep into the characters and world, and so far I've found it incredibly charming.

If you enjoyed the early Paper Mario games at all, I can't recommend it enough.

Links:

Bug Fables Official Website

Get Bug Fables on Steam

 

Anyway, I just thought I should start a thread for the game. If you've played it, are playing, or are just interested in playing it, this could be a fun place to discuss the game! Whether it's the game itself, the story, your favorite characters (mine's Kabbu so far), or anything else related to Bug Fables.

I'm only about a chapter and a half into the game so far, but I can say that this game absolutely lives up to classic Paper Mario's pedigree in terms of both gameplay and writing. So far the battles have been a decent challenge, and the first dungeon had a lot of interesting setpieces and puzzles that take advantage of your parties' unique abilities. I'd say that so far, Bug Fables is more demanding than the original Paper Mario games in terms of difficulty; not unreasonably hard, but it doesn't hold your hand either. (And if you want extra difficulty, you're able to get a "Hard Mode" medal early on that makes enemies extra tough, but offer more EXP)

I'm definitely psyched to get back to it and play more!

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Interestingly I first heard of this game on this message board on the status updates very long time ago, where some people were kind of skeptical and understandably jaded "spiritual successor" type of games after Yooka Laylee and Mighty No 9. I looked up, and I have to admit, despite my own slight skepticism, it already appealed to me on art design alone.

I've always had a soft spot for anthropomorphic bugs as it's always fascinated me as to how people can make something as ugly as bugs look appealing to the general audience. And the characters I saw when I first looked it up had already won me over... "Paper Mario with cute bugs," I thought to myself "I'm interested!"

When I saw how glowing the reviews were I was beginning to consider buying it off of steam, despite my computer running out of space. But wouldn't you know it, it was announced for consoles and as soon as the pre-order was up, I bought it, and I played it as soon as it unlocked.

Did not disappoint. I'm two chapters in and I love it.

It's always cool playing games where you're playing from the perspective of a small character, where things like grass, plants and the like are to them as trees are to us. It's really clever seeing things like pumpkins and cardboard boxes being used as buildings for these characters.

Speaking of characters, I love all three of them so far. Admittedly, Vi took a little while for me to grow on me, but even then she won me over pretty quickly. I love the banter between the three, and unlike paper mario where it was only your partner speaking (And often speaking for the ever silent Mario) Kabbu, Vi, and Leif all have their own distinct personalities and dialogue. Kabuu as the heroic but often teased knight/fighter, Vi, the greedy and a bit tsundere rogue, and Leif, the stoic and sarcastic mage, all play off of each other very well, and make for some very entertaining banter with one another.

One of my favorite features in Paper Mario is using "tattle" in the overworld where you'd get information on NPCs from Goombario/Goombella/Tippi, and get a little bit of worldbuilding, making the universe feel more lively. In this game, they take it a step further by not only incorporating that feature, but also having each character have their say on the NPC or what they do, providing not only some worldbuilding but more entertaining banter from the trio. It really makes me attached to them, and I'm still somewhat early in the game.

Paper Mario is a series I grew to love, and it's a shame it's gone down a direction I'm not to happy with. Origami King looks interesting, sure, but I'm kind of in the camp that's cautiously optimistic, rather than hyped. If Origami King turns out to be disappointing, at least I have this game to fall back on. 

It's probably way to early to say, and I don't know if my opinion will change or not, but I really hope this game is successful enough to have a sequel or spin-off of some kind. Again, way to early for me to say, but I'm already in love with the characters and world to the point where I already want to see more of it.

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Really sorry double post, but I just beat the game yesterday and I really wanted to give my overall impressions. I admit, I'm a little surprised I haven't been hearing much talk from this as of lately.

Last time, I said that I loved the game despite being only two chapters in. I also mention how there could be a chance my opinion could change the further I got in. And that brings us to this question... Did it change?

Nope, not at all. I loved this game all the way through.  

The gameplay, The world, the characters, the dialogue, the music... All of these just kept getting better as It went along. The story is a lot simpler than Super Paper Mario and even The Thousand Year Door, but even so, there's nothing wrong with a simple plot as long as it keeps me engaged and has good characters to keep it going, and I think it succeeded.  

Let's talk gameplay. first of all. As mentioned before, I first heard of this game through a status update on this website, citing it as an example of games nostalgia pandering and the oversaturation of "spiritual successors" in the indie game scene and I can understand that sentiment. With games like Mighty No. 9 and Yooka Laylee, it felt as if it was less focused on the gameplay and more to feed member berries to the audience. Mind you, I've played both games, and while I thought Mighty No. 9 was decent, Yooka Laylee just felt kind of bland to me. But this game, in my opinion hits all the right spots when it comes to being a worthy successor to Paper Mario. The environments, like Paper Mario, have a pop-up book aesthetic, and the exit paths from the areas even have that same triangle pattern the first two games had.  Unlike the first two games, however, the combat takes a slightly different approach. Rather than meeting partners along the way, you only have the three characters you start off with throughout the entire game. In my opinion this is good technically and story wise, as now, rather than having to stop and switch a partner out to make use of one ability, you can quickly change from the three characters you have... In addition, each character has not one, not two, but three abilities, making it a bit quicker to swap out the character you need.

Combat is almost exactly like Paper Mario, save for the three party members. Commands function similarly, such as button combinations or timing your button just right, and blocking at the right moment. There were some bosses that definitely made me sweat a bit, but in the end, there was never a moment where I had to reset from a checkpoint in order to buy stuff to prepare. In the end, it all came down to the strategy I had to come up with, and it was always satisfying when I beat them in the end. 

Overall, it really does feel like Paper Mario. However, unlike other spiritual successors, this one felt like it had it's game and world in mind before deciding to make it like Paper Mario, giving it it's own identity while still paying tribute to it's inspirations.

There were a few problems I had with the game however, mostly on the technical side. For one, there were times I found myself getting stuck in the wall cracks with a certain character's dig ability, and would have a hard time getting out. In addition, some of the side-quests fell into the trap of becoming too "fetch-questy" and involved quite a bit of backtracking. Finally during the final area, the game had some severe framerate issues during battles, to the point I was afraid my game locked up.

Of course, these aren't gamebreakers for me. In games like these, backtracking and fetch quests are inevitable, and it didn't reach the levels of ridiculousness TTYD did at times.

Now then, it's time to talk about the story.

Storywise... well, don't expect anything as deep as Super Paper Mario, or even Thousand Year Door. The story is somewhat simple, basically fetch the magical items, find the magic macguffin and defeat the big bad. Simple, sweet, nothing bad about it. The story is a lot more character driven and I think that's where most of the charm  comes from in this game. 

The lore really hooked me, so much in fact that I would get excited when I was rewarded with a Lore Book after completing a sidequest, something I tend to ignore in other games. There's so much lore to explore on how the bugs came to be and how their society works... and yet there's many unanswered questions that make it fun to form headcanons and theories.

The characters, especially the main three, Team Snakemouth, were a major highlight of the game. Kabbu, (the fighter of the group in RPG terms) despite looking like a sort of brooding and shortempered kind of character at first glance, surprised me with true personality: a heroic and noble soul who loves to help people. His kind heartedness and desire to do what's right often leads to him getting playfully picked on by his teammates.

Then there's Vi (The group's Rogue), whom I admit took some time to grow on me, due to her greedy nature. However, she quickly won me over in a scene where she encouraged a down on their luck bug to not give up on their dreams. Since then, her character rose up in likability pretty quickly, and has some very funny moments as well. Like Kabbu, she's picked on by the team, though more so due to her greed.

Finally, we have Leif (The mage of the group), who's mystery surrounding him really made him an intriguing character. This moth's personality is very stoic and snarky, providing some funny moments with the banter between the three. He's an interesting sort, as when you first meet him you find that he's been asleep for who knows how long and is hit with future shock when he sees how different the world around him has become. I won't spoil any more of his backstory, but it took a direction I certainly wasn't expecting.

All three play off one another perfectly, very different personalities with a few things in common, particularly the thrill and excitement of being explorers. Although they have their moments of taking jabs at one another, you can sense that their teasing is not out of malice or that they don't like each other but the kind light-hearted teasing you'd hear from friends or family. I always love dynamics like this, as it makes the interactions much more lifelike and charming.

And the ending... Admittedly, this is down to personal taste, but I must say this.

Spoiler

Most of the games I've played this past year and a half have ended in a bittersweet manner. The main character or a major character sacrifices themselves to save the world. It's not exactly a bad thing, mind you, but it's something I've come to expect when playing games and I was fully expecting to see someone major die in the end.

Much to my surprise, It ended pretty happily, save for Queen Elizant II being unable to revive her mother... but even so she gained the confidence to rule over her kingdom and won the respect of many as well. Aside from the main villain, there were no deaths of anyone major or anything ending tragically. Team Snakemouth become royal guards and continue their exploring, the cockroaches are free to roam outside the giant's lair, the wasps aren't hostile anymore. Everything went very well in the end.

Not saying that bittersweet endings are bad at all... but as of lately I've been in a poor mood, and to see my expectation of something sad happening in the end were not met surprised me. I came to love the characters I met in this game, and It put a smile on my face to see all the characters I helped in the town plaza, and everyone happy in the end. It was something that helped ease sour mood a bit. 

Overall, I loved this experience, and I'm kind of sad to see it over. The Paper Mario games one of few games that I go back to even after I beat them, and I think Bug Fables, like the games they were inspired by, are going to be one of those games I'll come back to every now and then.

If you're a Paper Mario fan, this is a game I highly recommend. I'm sure it'll put a smile on your face, whether it be from nostalgia or just the banter with the characters.

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