The runaway success of Pac-Man did more than inspire a few copycats; it basically initiated an entire genre of games – the maze category. The trick with developing these myriad games was adding an element that differentiated them from Pac-Man enough to make something new, or at least distinctive enough to justify an all-new marquee.
Universal Games eventually struck gold in the maze genre with Mr. Do! in 1982, but along the way they created Lady Bug, a very interesting title with a fun insect aesthetic and enough tweaks to make it worthwhile. The big element in Lady Bug that sets it apart from other maze titles is the use of the spinning walls. In each maze, the player-controlled ladybug can pass through rotating walls that really act as gates, changing the shape of the maze. Some real strategy can be employed here when it comes to enemy evasion, and the skillful player will create a path constantly considering these walls. It’s a good thing to have that kind of flexibility too, because unlike Pac-Man, the player cannot attack the enemies at any time. Instead, a few stationary skulls are situated throughout the playfield, which are lethal to both the player and the four or so enemies giving chase.
One element that started with Lady Bug and was kept for Mr. Do! involves the collection of “SPECIAL” and “EXTRA” letters. It’ll take a few stages, but the careful completion of these words can reward the player with either a “special” additional credit or an “extra” life.
Things start off simple enough, but Lady Bug speeds up quickly and quickly becomes an experience of its own. Fans of Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, or really just anything Golden Era will enjoy Lady Bug for its tense yet strategic gameplay, and a pleasing suite of maze-based action!