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my thoughts on the first chapter of Bug Fables

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
TL:DR, the game improves on Paper Mario in all of the most important areas, but some of the smaller areas that gave the original games their identity are missing or lackluster, likely due to being an indie project

I was gonna play Yakuza 0 tonight, but since I didn't have the game downloaded I decided to check out Bug Fables since the game would be leaving Game Pass on the 15th of this month (so this is a good reminder for all of you guys to check it out/buy before it's gone for good)

Going in, I had relatively high expectations. Not just because of the obvious game being basically one giant Paper Mario homage (yknow, back when it was still good) but the absolute rave reviews it got from non-RPG fans and Paper Mario fans alike, some guys even claimed it to be better than TTYD (which is a feat, seeing how beloved and revered that game is)

Spoiler alert: It DID in some places, it didn't in others. It's a mixed bag.... in the same way that a kid's halloween candy bowl is a mixed bag. It's all good stuff, but some of it is gooder than others.

I'm just going to start off with the positive. The gameplay, story and PART of the presentation is peak. The battle system loses the star system and crowd from TTYD but it does add a layer of complexity to the basics where you can have 3 partners in a battle (whether you can have more is unknown to me as i've just only started chapter 2) and you can relay turns to each of your partners, allowing you to switch up your attack patterns in ways TTYD only ever dreamed of. Not just that but the attack commands are overall more polished (for example, blocking is now an animation rather than just some vague thing that happens when you time your A presses right. the timing window is larger, but if you block JUST AS the enemy hits you damage gets reduced even further. I wish you could superguard, since that was a great way to avoid damage completely, but this system is great too) and feel better to use. That being said, health is kind of weird where you start out with lower than ten, and the amount of EXP you need to level up actually INCREASES each time you level up like a regular RPG, which i kind of don't like since it was so consistent and easy to calculate when you'd level up in Paper Mario.

The characters are.... well, they're Paper Mario alright. Vi is kind of an obnoxious jerkass, but a lovable one. Kabbu (my favorite) is the bold, brave hero that can also be socially awkward and corny at times, and Leif is just... the stoic type. The story has an air to mystery in it that hasn't really been seen in any Paper Mario game (excluding Super which still has the best story of any Mario), and it was kind of hard to put the game down to try and sleep seeing as how i was kind of hooked, not going to lie. I kept telling myself that after this save point i'll quit.... I ended up completing the chapter.

The visuals are spot on, while i loved TTYD's smooth tweened animation (kind of reminded me of paper puppets, which makes sense considering the game) PM64's hand animated visuals had more personality and were overall better looking and more snappy, so Bug Fables going for the latter is a positive in my book. Not just that, but the game's overall environments smash everything in PM64, with some extremely vast and detailed landscapes that the N64 wished it could render. Not to mention the cel shading really giving off that 2D storybook feel. The game's visuals are just a treat to look at and they nailed that feel.

Here's where I complain. The game is missing that bombastic, overly theatric hyper feel that PM64, TTYD and Super had. It's not just the theater mechanics being removed from the battling system, but the general game. For starters: the music

It has been 21 years since Paper Mario on the N64 came out. The MIDI sounding music was excusable back then since... yknow, it was the N64. The thing was running off of a god damn cartridge. Why does Bug Fables music sound worse than even that?!?
The game's overall compositions are sort of fine, they're not offensively bad but they're not amazing either. It's just that the instrumentation sounds so poorly made and generic like they ripped it right out of the Windows MIDI library. Even in saying that, Paper Mario had better compositions overall.


This title screen music especially got me. I listened to it and it's like... what???? Why does it sound like this?!? It's passable sure, it's quite peaceful and calm, but considering the scale of the game and how ambitious of a game it is, i'd expect more than this. Like listen to how upbeat PM64's music is!!


This is what gets you excited for an RPG adventure. THIS is what hypes you up. a big old fancy ragtime style theme letting you know "hey, shit's about to get awesome." TTYD's theme is even MORE hype inducing.


Like come on, how the fuck can you NOT be excited listening to this shit?!? This gets you PUMPED, like get ready to stomp on some goombas (not my beloved Goombella though) and pound turtle shell because we're going on a FUCKING RAMPAGE in this paper mario game. Now compare that to Bug Fables and you will see what I mean. It's not just the title theme, it's the entire game. going from the battle themes....



to the main area/HUB themes....



to even the level up themes, which are supposed to be bombastic and hyper. Yet one clearly sounds more theatric and cinematic than the other



There is a clear downgrade in quality that happened with Bug Fables sonically, and while that's NOT something that makes or breaks a game for me (Resident Evil 4 has a fucking forgettable soundtrack and it's one of my favorites of all time), it's just something that takes away from the experience yknow.
Even at times where TTYD and PM64 would bore me, the music kept me pumped up and ready to explore. And it's not even just that either, while cutscenes and events are cool, they're not as bombastic or wild as Paper Mario TTYD's. The Chapter End screen in Bug Fables is literally just a black screen telling you the chapter has ended. Like no shit, but where's the big ass bombastic theme for the chapter ending, as the letters END OF CHAPTER bounce onto the screen? The curtains closing as the summary of the chapter rolls out on the screen? The soul that Paper Mario once had is lacking here, which is kind of a major loss to me since one of the biggest things about Paper Mario was that cinematic, theater aesthetic 64 and TTYD had. It felt like you were watching a paper puppet show with the budget of a movie production. You can't really say it's trying to seperate itself from Paper Mario either, since the overall game's aesthetic, gameplay, story, characters, everything is a clear homage. I can't say I blame the developers too much for it, seeing as how it most certainly has a lower budget than the original games, but if there ever is a sequel I hope that they spend more time recapturing that magic, those little touches that elevated the game just that bit more.

that being said, if you liked those games please go buy it and support the developer (despite me playing it on gamepass) so that we even get a successor to begin with. It's a genuinely great game from my experience so what's the harm. It's 20 dollars with gamepass (25 dollars without)
 

Hohenheim

Member
Started playing this on Switch about a year ago, but didn't quite "feel" it, and abandoned it a couple of hours in.
Will probably try again at some point,but it's just too many other games thats a lot more interesting.
I do miss the classic Paper Mario-style games from the N64 and Gamecube.
 

MagnesD3

Member
Keep playing it gets better. I really love this game and consider it the third best paper mario. In many respects it has a better battle system (although I prefer Pm's several partners), I appreciated the challenge and rewards from the hard mode badge. The music is actually really good, Id keep playing, here's one I like as a taste of what can be , I really enjoy the overworld puzzles (even if it looks a bit jank sometimes), the food system is way better than PM, the tattle system leads to alot of fun (dont want to spoil), theres alot of fun side content I recommend and there a ton of quirky fun little characters that are charming. Its weakness's Id say are the crystal berries/star pieces take a bit long to start mattering and I think the badge fun really doesnt start to get strategic until maybe around chapter 3. Also the way the story ends could have been done better imo. Overall though I absolutely adored the game (Even if its the 3rd best pm), I definitely recommend you keep going if you really love PM and TTYD.
 
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Jennings

Member
I was gonna give this a shot on Gamepass but it looks like Bug Fables leaves the service in 8 or 9 days and I'm not sure I'll have time to finish it by then. I'll add it to my wishlist and keep it in mind for later. I've never played a Paper Mario type game (that I know of) so this whole experience should feel new to me.
 
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