Flightless, the award-winning local developers behind a growing list of iOS games, have just released their latest universal iOS game Bee Leader. As the name implies, you take to the skies as a Bee, working to gather as much nectar to make honey while the sun shines. It’s obvious that the development team spent some time to study the life of bees in the course of making this game, but was all the effort worth it?
As soon as I fired I Bee Leader I was impressed by the visual style and upbeat soundtrack. The vibrant colours and “springy” menus were full of life, and promised a fun and unique experience. A quick start guide provides the necessary instruction for first-timers but within minutes you’ll be sent into the wings of a bee tasked with making as much honey as possible before the sun sets.
Bee Leader has four unique worlds at the time of release with 3 levels in each world and a promise of more to come with game updates. The game is played in a 360 degree environment around what is essentially a game globe. Keep flying to your left and eventually you’ll end up back at the starting point.
Each world has pollen and nectar scattered all across it – collecting this and returning it to your hive will produce the honey that each level is scored on. Hidden bee helpers increase the efficiency with which you harvest nectar, so it is in your interest to find them and maximise your honey production. On your journey you will also find bonus honey jars, time bonuses, and flowers which are a great source of nectar. Find all the flowers and “bee buddies” on a level and you will be rewarded with additional bonuses.
It wouldn’t be a game without enemies, and Bee Leader dishes them out in spades with hornets and spiders that attack you, as well as environmental dangers such as rain and lightening clouds. It’s a perilous world out there but fortunately your bee leader cannot die – if you suffer a blow then losing some of your collected nectar the worst that can happen.
The game looks amazing (universal support for both iPhone and iPad, as well as retina display support), and is a whole lot of fun to play once you get over the initial learning curve of the controls. There are several control schemes available, including on-screen analog stick and tilt/gyro controls. I have never been a fan of on-screen controls as they offer no haptic feedback and are generally difficult to play, and it was no different for Bee Leader. The team have promised to look into the concerns I had with what appeared to be over-sensitivity. My bee leader controlled like he (she?) had had too much honey to drink. I found the tilt controls much easier to handle, and after overcoming the “floaty” way in which the bee leader travels, did enough to earn my stripes.
If you have two iOS devices make sure you check out the third control scheme – download Joypad for free from the App Store and you can use one of your iOS devices as a controller while the game is displayed on the other. All it requires is for both devices on the same WiFi network – connection was automagic and there was no noticeable lag. This would be an awesome way to play the game if you have an HDMI cable to output the game display to your HDTV.
Bee Leader is solely a single-player experience, but does have Game Center Leaderboard integration to compare progress with friends and world-wide players. There are currently only basic achievements to hunt, and this is certainly an area which could be earmarked for later updates.
Bee Leader is an innovative game that is challenging and fun to play. It looks and sounds great, and has a fun positive vibe (buzz even?) pervading through it. Fun bee facts are presented on load screens with a very NZ sense of humour apparent. My recommendation is that you make a bee-line for the App Store and pick up this cool Kiwi-made game for a sweet $1.29. While you are there, make sure you have a look at their earlier games: Top Dog: Farmyard Adventures, What Cocktail?, and AnimalBlocks.