Bug-chomping fun with Glow Bugs

Glow Bugs is a new iOS title from Backflip Publishing and Phobic Studios. The free-to-play game is available now as a Universal download from the App Store, and was the fastest-growing free iOS game at the end of last week.

Glow Bugs is a vertically-scrolling “endless running” game that uses tilt controls. Players take on the role of a ladybug running and flying through the night in an attempt to get as far as possible while consuming aphids and flowers. The titular Glow Bugs, meanwhile, are out to get our ladybug hero and if touched will cost one of the player’s two lives — likewise, crashing into obstacles and being pushed off the constantly-scrolling screen or falling into water will cost a life also.

The ladybug has a few special techniques at its disposal to help with survival. By tapping on the screen, the player is able to fly for short periods, allowing the bug to traverse obstacles and avoid ground-based bugs. By collecting powerups, players can become invincible, shoot at passing bugs or attract more aphids from further away. The “fly” ability is unlocked from the beginning of the game, but the collectible powerups must be purchased and upgraded using aphids collected through play or acquired through in-app purchase. The game has drawn praise from App Store reviewers for not forcing the player to make use of in-app purchases to progress — all content may be unlocked simply through playing for long enough, though naturally content may be unlocked faster by paying.

The game also features an “objectives” system through which the player can acquire score bonuses and multipliers. These objectives vary from surviving to a specific wave in a single game to destroying bugs using powerups or collecting specific items. There are also six Game Center achievements for players to acquire, though these are not connected to the in-game objectives system, and are extremely challenging to attain.

Social play is provided through Game Center leaderboards, though these are only implemented so far as providing a Game Center popup from the main menu screen. To encourage friendly competition and repeat play, a better implementation would be to follow the example of developers like Halfbrick, who list friends’ (or global) scores on the post-game summary screen to give players an immediate incentive to try again. This is always something which could be added through an update, however.

Glow Bugs is a fun little game that is proving popular with iOS players at present. Its simple “pick up and play” style, attractive graphics and unobtrusive monetization make it a good example of a “quick fix” game, perfect for wasting a few minutes while waiting for something else. Whether it will see long-term success on the scale of the iOS big hitters and cult classics remains to be seen, but for now it is a pleasant enough diversion that clearly understands what many casual mobile gamers want.

Glow Bugs is currently ranked No. 393 in Top Free Apps, No. 91 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 143 in Top Free Games and No. 40 in Top Free iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.