Normally, I wouldn’t call bugs cute.
I’m not afraid of them, but they’re not exactly giving me the warm fuzzies when I see them. Thank goodness, though, that Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling defies all buggy expectations! Making bugs cute is a feat all on its own, but this game also combines a wealth of side quests with a lovely core plot, all capped off with an art style that brings out the very best nostalgia of all.
It’s tough to condense such a fun, clever little game into one post, but today we’re trying it anyhow! It’s what Team Snakemouth deserves, after all their hard work saving Bugaria. 🐛✨
Bug Fables is what you get when the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon franchise has a baby with Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door.
You heard me. In Bug Fables, you play as the up-and-coming Team Snakemouth, a trio of explorers who seek the Everlasting Sapling on behalf of Queen Elizant II (and perhaps for the accompanying fame and fortune, too). Your mission is long, with many diverging paths, but at its heart lies the defense of Bugaria and its citizens. It’s your job to rescue them from sticky situations, the invading Wasp Kingdom, and all other kinds of dangers that lie in wait along the way. And while you’re doing that, you’re doing it in a charming 2D style that clearly harkens back to classic Paper Mario games.
With turn-based combat, varying levels of difficulty, and multiple chapters to explore, there’s so much that Bug Fables has to offer!
I played Bug Fables specifically because of its clear Paper Mario influences.
You can see it in the lovely, papery art style, in the badge system, in the combat system, even in the quests system! So much of it reminds me of Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door, which has firmly cemented itself onto my Favorite Games of All Time list since I played it for the first time years ago. All the nostalgia bells were ringing from the very start of Bug Fables because of this, and yet it felt like its own game, not a rip-off of some sort!
Still, much of my enjoyment of Bug Fables is tied to this nostalgia. The controls and other mechanics felt comfortingly familiar, and that scored bonus points with me. That said, you can absolutely enjoy this game even if you’ve never played one of the first two Paper Mario games before (where the parallels most clearly lie). It stands up well on its own, and simply appealed to me more for those deeper connections!
It also manages to pack in color, quests, and mini games, so you’re never bored!
The visuals alone are a triumph. Perfectly capturing that beloved papery style, they also burst with color and personality, lending every area a distinct air. This blends so well with the music, and makes for a fully immersive set of environments to explore!
And trust me, you do a ton of exploring. The main quest alone guides you throughout Bugaria, but the side quests push you even further, encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny in return for useful and sometimes exceptionally generous rewards! If you’re stuck on the main story, side quests are often a useful way to make some progress. It may mean gaining experience points from battles, or getting your hands on a new badge that’ll make future encounters smoother, but no matter what, it offers an excellent break from the core adventure without diminishing the experience.
On top of all that, the game also has a fun minigame called Spy Cards. I loved it for its ability to switch things up and distract from a tough portion of the main quest, and because it lends a spotlight to Team Snakemouth’s most stoic member in a slightly goofy, utterly charming way. Who knew playing a card game in a video game could be so much fun?
Bug Fables is available on a variety of systems, and I can’t recommend it enough.
You can play Bug Fables on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, or XBox One if you’re a console player, or you can purchase it on Steam if you prefer PC! However you choose to play, though, I can’t recommend it enough. Plus, you’d be supporting an indie game dev team in the process, which could one day even mean a second installment to the series! Anything can happen, after all.
But for now, I encourage you to give Bug Fables a try. Join Team Snakemouth on their quest to find treasure, friendship, and adventure, and discover the joys and perils of Bugaria along the way!
And since I know there’s someone out there reading this who doesn’t like spiders: never fear. There are spider enemies. You can beat them up, and it’s very cathartic. 😉