Autumn, 1993. The Commodore 64 world was so distracted by Mayhem In Monsterland that the majority of people missed something important and tragic.
Quietly, oh-so-quietly, C64 flag-wavers CodeMasters finally gave up on the machine. Bee 52 was the major casualty: it was finished, reviewed, but never found the shop shelves. With Boots, Smiths and the other chains no longer willing to stock Breadbin cassettes, the majority of those shelves no longer existed. It was enough for Codies to say…well, enough.
Over a year later, the game’s programmer managed to wrangle the rights and made it available by mail order. You literally sent money to his house. By then, though, even more C64 fans had left the scene and the game never really found an audience. A demo on CF53’s Power Pack caused further confusion: the by-then chronically understaffed magazine neglected to tell people where they could buy the full version in its instructions.
Anyway. Enough of the shoe gazing, ‘cos you can easily get hold of the game today and you should.
But for the spelling you’d think it was a flight sim’, right? And it is of sorts. The bees in this game run their own honey hive, but the world’s becoming a more dangerous place. Only super bug Bee 52 is hard enough to venture into some parts of the garden to collect pollen, ‘cos he has the power to spit baddies out of the sky. Most of the enemy bugs are very hard indeed so it takes a lot of killer spit to take them out, but don’t get too fixated. Killing isn’t the point of the game. You have to collect pollen and take it back to your hive so your mates can make honey.
You’ll find pollen in the flowers dotted around the playing area. Every third flower you’ll have enough to take back home. And every time you do that, your on-screen honey pot will fill up a little further. Once it’s right up to the top you’re onto the next stage.
The graphics are really colourful, very much in keeping with the console trends of the time (indeed, the version Codies did release was on Nintendo’s NES). The animation is cute, too. Check out our video to see how Bee 52‘s butt wiggles about as he looks for pollen, for example. Too cool. The presentation is spot on as well, with a nice intro and what we’d today call cut scenes.
We’d suggest that Clur’s review was a little generous, though. It is a beautiful looking thing and the first stage is hugely enjoyable. But then it just gets really tough, and eventually becomes maddening. Plus, every stage is pretty much the same. There isn’t really a sense of progression and that lack of reward likely causes a lot of people to leave it unfinished. It’s a unique idea but there isn’t enough here for a whole game, certainly not by the standards of 1993. What’s here is great – if you’ve got the stamina – but it isn’t really enough. A good laugh to play now with a trainer mode, though. CF
CF SAID: “It’ll make even the toughest of hard nuts go ‘ah, isn’t that sweet’.”
WE SAY: Tough, but an interesting little thing. One of the great lost C64 games.
- Read Clur’s full review
- Go back to the CF’s Best Of Budget homepage
- Play Bee 52 (requires C64 emulator)
Editor’s note: The CF review refers to the game being available on Kixx XL. That’s a mistake on their part!