Bee Wars Review—Bee-Musing

Bee-Wars-1-

Bee Wars is one of those games that was announced (last summer, 2010), then sort of disappeared into limbo, completely forgotten by me until suddenly it appeared just last week. India-based Gameshastra was one of the earliest Minis developers. Then, they seemed to move away from them for a while (to iOS, naturally), but this is the second Mini they’ve released in the last month or so.

At first glance, it appears to be a bee-themed, turn-based wargame. Indeed, it basically plays like one—you have a map divided up into hexes, and you move various types of units from place to place, capturing objects (flowers) and guarding your base (beehive), while the AI does the same. Not unlike the old classic wargames of computer gaming’s golden age. But, it also has some puzzle elements which can overshadow the wargame part, and you really need to discover how to beat a level by figuring out the trick to it.

You have the basic Worker Bee that sucks the nectar from a flower. But you also have Thief Bees that will come up and steal honey from them or from the opposing beehive. To counter these, there are Police Bees, who lock up the bandit bee in jail and take the honey back. But what do you counter the Police Bees with? Ninja Bees, of course. The catch with Ninja Bees is they move slowly, only one hex at a time. Ninja Bees can also ward off the dreaded Bear and Farmer, who can attack your beehive.

Moving the Ninja Bee to scare off the Bear.

Moving the Ninja Bee to scare off the Bear.

The way to beat a level (there are 80) is to own more units of honey than your opponent after a given number of turns. Basically, this requires using your units to neutralize the opponent’s units: use your Police Bee against their Thief Bee, while trying to move your Ninja Bees around to protect your units. I keep wondering if it’s more of a wargame or puzzle game, but in either event, it requires a good amount of strategy, or at least trial and error.

You can replay any level once you’ve beaten it, and you can earn medals (not PSN Trophies, of course) by finishing a map quickly or through other conditions. The medals do provide an interesting feature, though—when you gain three, you can skip a few levels. This is useful because early on, you have something of an advantage in the game, though you still need to figure out how to best take advantage of your situation.

Sending the Thief Bee to rob the opponent beehive.

Sending the Thief Bee to rob the opponent beehive.

There aren’t any other modes or options other than replaying levels, but the game does support separate profiles, which is something I wish more Minis did. While there is a tutorial, it’s simply a bunch of static screens. It gets shown when you start to play, but you can go back and look at it from the main menu.

The graphics are cute, if a little spartan. There are some animations—the bees slowly beat their wings when you select them, but basically it’s just simple icons on a hex map. Similarly, the sound effects are minimal, some background music (which is somewhat catchy, and thankfully not bee-related—I hate that “Flight of the Bumblebee” piece of music which was used in that other bee-themed Mini, Hive Sweeper) and buzzing and attack sounds where appropriate.

Sending the Ninja Bee after the opponent's Police Bee. Buzz that Fuzz!

Sending the Ninja Bee after the opponent's Police Bee. Buzz that Fuzz!

I have to admit, my expectations coming into this were pretty low. While Gameshastra has produced some interesting ideas in their games, most of their titles have been a little lacking. This is somewhat spartan in a few areas, but it is pretty much their most polished title and, most importantly, is surprisingly fun. If you are looking for a turn-based strategy game, either History Egypt or Star Hammer Tactics should be your first picks, but this isn’t a bad choice, especially if you are looking for short bursts of gaming.

7.5/10

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Comments

6 Responses to “Bee Wars Review—Bee-Musing”
  1. Balrog says:

    Interesting…

  2. identity25 says:

    Its interesting that you suggest to pick up star hammer tactics up first yet this one has a higher score/rating (although I do concede different reviewers, so you’d have different opinions/ways of rating)

    So my question would be, what would you give star hammer tactics as a rating?

  3. onmode-ky says:

    I don’t understand the bit about it being useful to skip to later levels, if you have an advantage in earlier levels. Doesn’t that mean you lose your advantage faster?

  4. sniper712 says:

    better than zombhai i guess.

  5. JeremyR says:

    I myself would give Star Hammer Tactics an 8. It’s a bit flawed, but I liked it.

    The thing about skipping levels is really about controlling the difficulty of the game. Basically if you find the game too easy it just gives you an option to skip until you find the game difficult (to where you can’t win medals). Pretty clever way of doing it, I thought.

  6. sniper712 says:

    i’ll Bee-lieve that!!!

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