The odaSoft-produced Beeing (Out Now, $0.99) might just be the October Surprise of Chillingo’s release lineup this week. One whiff of its ultra-cute presentation and many a serious gamer will dismiss it as a “kid’s game” — with a wink wink, nod nod, because so many of us are under the unfortunate impression that it’s perfectly fine to toss shovelware at children. If you do happen to download Beeing for your kids though, it won’t be a mistake by any means; a little digging reveals that startlingly good design sense went into this one.
Beeing gives you control of a big bee out to save others of his kind from the clutches of an arachnid army. This involves 25 auto-scrolling levels where the player gets a right-hand slider to control the bee’s vertical position. Naturally, the goal is to avoid obstacles while taking advantage of power-ups that give Beeing extra speed, miniaturize him to make tight passages easier, and turn him into a ghost so he can pass through walls that otherwise split levels into branches. The central gameplay mechanic is a constantly depleting nectar bar that can be refilled by grabbing pollen orbs littered along Beeing’s flight path. Hits from enemies and obstacles sap the gauge further; let it hit zero and Beeing will lose a life.
As long as he’s got a life left, Beeing gets to re-start precisely where he left off — and levels are short enough that his complement of three lives are often enough to get you through even if you’re blindfolded. If that were the end of the story Beeing would have nosedived straight for a 2.5 or a 3.0 on our scale, but thankfully there’s more to it than that. Losing a life makes Beeing drop any of the captive bees he’s freed up to that point, and level sets require certain rescue thresholds before opening up — so if you squeak by on the game’s life system you might have to go back and master that level after all. This forces you to take the leaking nectar gauge deadly seriously, and once the first level set is cleared, keeping Beeing alive becomes a satisfyingly dicey proposition.
When you’ve earned your wings in Beeing’s story mode, you can try out an endless Survival mode that does a great job stringing together all the game’s threats with the usual Game Center leaderboard treatment. Beeing’s slider control feels perfectly calibrated to me, though it’s worth noting there are no options for adjusting it at present.
Beeing’s presentation definitely feels geared toward children — it’s packed with visual gags that are surely meant to get the little’uns giggling. Given all the gorgeous 3D treatment lavished on Beeing’s graphics, it’s just a shame all the game’s levels share a single music loop.
iFanzine Verdict: Beeing may very well be a kid’s game, but it’s not “that kind” of kid’s game. There’s actually a compelling challenge at its core — it’s just that for better or worse, you’ll have to slog through a few ridiculously easy intro levels before you find it. Implementing some difficulty settings in updates would totally be worth the developer’s time.