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Lady Bug - The Atari Times

Lady Bug

Arcade Perfection from a Homebrew!
by Gregory D. George

March 17, 2008
Remember the days of Pac-Man? Remember 1981? Remember how whenever a popular game is released, dozens upon dozens of clones are created? The subject of this review is a game that was released over 25 years ago. Or at least it should have been: It's Lady Bug for the Atari 2600.

Why exactly wasn't this game released back in the day? Coleco had the rights to it, but they released many of their licensed games on the 2600. Time Pilot, Smurf, Donkey Kong, Carnival, Venture all made appearances on the ColecoVision and later the 2600. Could it be that Coleco wanted to avoid any possible lawsuits with Atari about releasing a Pac-Man-type game on the 2600? I dunno. Maybe.

Regardless of the circumstances, it's finally here. Lady Bug for the 2600. Now I have to admit, I've never been much of a fan of this game, but I can appreciate a spectacular effort. And JohnnyWC has quickly become one my programming heroes. How he managed to squeeze such an arcade accurate game out of the old girl is beyond me.

So what exactly is this game about? I'm not really sure. It apparently involved a ladybug traversing a maze that eats letters and flowers while avoiding the scary critters and skulls. Oh, and you can push doors in the maze to block enemies. And you eat eggplant bonuses. Very strange.

Let's start with the graphics. Sure, the 2600 is a bit more blocky and there are dashes instead of the little white flower things from the original, but that's about the only major concession. The sprite animation is spot on and the objects look virtually identical.Oh, and it even includes a perfect rendition of the death animation where your ladybug sprouts wings and heads off towards Heaven.

There are a couple of small graphical issues with the game aside from the dashes. These problems include the flickering doors, less colorful sprites and the horizontally oriented maze. However, I'm more than willing to overlook these considering the hardware this is running on.

As for faithfulness it's clear that JohnnyWC worked hard to make this nearly indistinguishable from the arcade. Aside from the perfectly animated sprites, he also included an opening "Checking RAM/ROM" screen which would be seen if the arcade game were powered on. It also includes some brilliant looking non-game screens such as the game select and in-between screens. Again, these look identical to their arcade counterparts.

How about the sounds? Usually they're nothing to write home about on the 2600, but again these are spot on perfect. Lady Bug includes the opening music, the death music, the eating of the dot sounds, the timer sounds, and the bonus sounds. They're so good I'd swear they were lifted from the arcade.

Control is excellent and smooth. There's no delay as you zip around the maze. The gameplay is also a perfect clone of the arcade. You can push the doors around just as easily as before.

One can only speculate how good the Coleco version of this game would have been if released. After their past 2600 failures, it's hard to imagine it would have been 1/2 as good as this effort. If you liked Lady Bug in the arcades and want to bring that experience home, you won't do better than this.

We even get a title screen! Not even Coleco could accomplish that!
As you can see, the game looks GREAT!
Here's one of those perfectly copied in-between screens.
Lady Bug
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 95%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 90%

Reader Comments for Lady Bug

Control improvement? by Darryl B. on 2008-03-17 23:56:58
So I take it the programmer got rid of the sticky controls that bogged down the arcade game? Nice for that to happen, like removing the shield glitch from 2600 Phoenix :D
Can I still buy it? by Rory D on 2008-10-12 21:42:08
It's supposed to be available at Atari Age, but I can't find it there. There's one on eBay but the pic is for the Colecovision.
Where it is... by Darryl B. on 2008-10-13 23:55:49
The Atari Age store has been gone for a while now. Check back with the site now and again and they should have it back up and the game in stock.
were on earth is atari times by young atari fan on 2008-12-13 16:00:12
My question is were on earth are you guys? I mean the last post
my observations is from mach 17, 08 and today is december 13 08
were are the reviews?
Elsewhere... by Darryl B. on 2008-12-13 18:44:02
There's several reviews sitting in the pipes as it is, site owner Greg's just going through all the articles from Day 1 of TAT starting. They'll be here eventually.
Back by Greg George on 2014-02-10 22:37:57
Always thought this game was a bit strange, but this is a great conversion! Kudos to the programmer! What else have you done lately? :D

(Oh, and we're back!)
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