Players navigate through ten different stages as Rollie. Rollie has the ability to jump, kick, and roll, the latter two of which can be used to attack most hostile enemies. Nuts are scattered throughout the level which, upon being opened, have power-ups, keys, clovers, or enemies. Gates can only be opened when Rollie has the appropriate colored key. Lady bugs are trapped at several points of each level and can be freed by kicking their cage. When Rollie reaches the level exit, the players score is tallied based on the number of ladybugs freed, the number of clovers found, and if all four pieces of the blue clover has been found. In Level 10, if you found all 4 gold clovers in the entire game, they will be tallied in that level. Here are the levels:
- Level 1: Training - The level is short and easy. It is designed to get you familiar with the game.
- Level 2: The Lawn - On this level, you'll battle with ants, boxer flies, and slugs. Find keys to unlock gates.
- Level 3: The Pond - You will need to ride the water taxi to get across the pond without being eaten by killer fish. Be careful jumping on lily pads.
- Level 4: The Forest (sometimes known as "The Garden") - This level contains many new things: spiders, bees, stomping feet, etc. One fun part of this level is riding dragonflies. Riding dragonflies is like riding the water taxi except you are in the air and you can shoot fireballs with the mouse button or kick key. Watch out for bats.
- Level 5: Hive Attack - You're in a small forest area with a tree stump that has a beehive swarming with flying bees. Your job is to destroy the hive using the dragonfly's fireballs.
- Level 6: The Beehive - You'll have to jump on detonator plungers to get through this level and battle bees and grub. Avoid falling into honey - it is sticky and you'll sink.
- Level 7: Queen Bee - Here the bad thing is the queen bee. She is difficult to kill, but once you'll see her pattern, you'll form a strategy.
- Level 8: Night Attack - This is the most intense level in the entire game. The main goal here is simply to survive and not go in circles. You will battle fire-breathing ants, toxic-gas roaches, slugs, etc.
- Level 9: The Anthill - You have entered the dark and deadly anthill. You will have to do certain things here to survive here.
- Level 10: King Thorax - This is it. If you can defeat King Thorax, you will become ruler of Bugdom. You'll need to kick pipes and lure King Thorax to defeat him.
The story is presented through an instruction manual, scripted events during the game; however, little coverage is given towards the actual story. Following the death of Shelleon McFly, the Bugdom King and Rollie McFly's father, the ladybugs who once helped rule the land are now imprisoned in spider web cages. Rollie McFly, a heir to the throne, who had been banished to the Garden area for a minor crime, returns to the meadow to see his late father. From there, he realizes he must fight Thorax and the Fire Ants to return the Bugdom to its true splendor. Rollie's goal is to travel to the fire ant's headquarters, an anthill, on the distant reaches of the Bugdom, but encounters a problem. He doesn't know where it is. The only bug with that knowledge is Queen Honey Sting, ruler of the Beehive. On his quest, he frees various trapped ladybugs along the way.
On his first journey, Rollie crosses across a lawn area, where he becomes used to the basics of defeating the fire ants, battling a few and freeing several ladybugs from them along the way. It is in this time that Rollie fights Bash Punchett, commander of the Boxer Flies, and defeats him. As revealed in the Bugdom Chronicles, Rollie shows mercy to his enemy and lets him live. After progressing to the larger portion of the lawn area, Rollie crosses larger bodies of water and frees several more ladybugs hidden on islands situated in the lakes. He then finds several more on the rocky shores and lily pads of a pond, encountering several water bugs and large killer fish along the way. After retrieving money hidden in walnuts, Rollie crosses the pond and evades contact with the fish via a water bug taxi, before landing on shore and leaving the area. In the garden area, Rollie first takes an dangerous route where several humans are constantly walking, putting the doodlebug at risk of being squashed. He fights his way to his friend Silver Wings, the dragonfly, who flies him along a secret passage inhabited by tarantulas and several more ants and bees.
This trail leads Rollie to a beehive, which he attacks with the help of Silver the dragonfly. After setting fire to the hive and forcing the doors to open, Rollie enters and battles the worker bees, who attack with their stinger, and bee larvae. He makes it to the throne room, where he battles the Queen Sting. The queen attempts to kill Rollie by spitting larvae at him and launching spike trails on the ground, but is unsuccessful. Rollie defeats her and forces the answer out of her. She tells him that the Anthill Fortress is located in the Midnight Hills. Rollie then escapes the burning hive, and makes his way across the Midnight hills. After evading being dropped into pools of toxic waste by fireflies, Rollie finally arrives at his destination.
After ambushing the guards, avoiding the deadly Ghost Ants and swinging across lava on roots, Rollie enters King Thorax's throne room and engages in a fierce duel. Though he attempts to kick Thorax, his powers deem Rollie's attacks useless. Rollie then takes cover from Thorax's fireballs behind a large pipe, before the magic impact smashes a hole in the plumbing. The water sprays out and Thorax's power is weakened dramatically. Rollie seizes this opportunity to attack, and knocks Thorax out cold. Along with his freed ladybug friends, they imprison Thorax, with Rollie becoming the new king of the Bugdom and restoring it to a state of peace.
The game is set in an outdoors bug environment, in the Bugdom, a kingdom once ruled by insects, namely the rollie pollies and ladybugs that was overthrown by a clan of fire ants who captured all of the Lady Bugs and held them as prisoners, leaving their leader, King Thorax, to rule the land. The player visits several colorful locations throughout the kingdom, namely a lawn (levels 1 and 2), a pond (level 3), a forest which resembles a bug's interpretation of a garden (levels 4 and 5), a beehive (levels 6 and 7), a nighttime-themed level (level 8), and an anthill (levels 9 and 10).
There are lots of insects out to kill Rollie so he must survive and save the Bugdom. Some bugs help though.
- Slugs - These large fat creatures are invincible, so they must be avoided. They appear in levels 1, 2, 3, and 8.
- Boxer flies - These green flies have boxing gloves. The player needs to kick them quick or Rollie's in for some pain. There's only one in level 1, but a lot more in level 2.
- Spear throwing ants - These minions of King Thorax have ugly faces and spears. They must be attacked three times before they die. They also hate water. There's also a variety that throws rocks. They appear in levels 1, 2, 4, 8 and 9.
- Mosquitoes - These female flies attack Rollie from above and drain his rolling energy, so their heads become bigger. Rollie must kick them when their noses are impaled in the ground. They appear in level 3.
- Water hoppers - These buggers are invincible like the slugs and must be avoided at all costs. They appear in level 3.
- Water spider - He is an aquatic taxi. If Rollie gives him a coin, the water spider will offer him a ride, making Rollie avoid the killer fish. He appears in level 3.
- Killer fish - These fish eat Rollie, resulting in an instant kill. They can be avoided by riding the water spider. They appear in level 3.
- Human feet - The humans can kill Rollie. The smelly feet must be avoided. They appear in level 4.
- Spiders - These eight legged monsters drop down in front of Rollie. They attack by shooting web. They appear in level 4 and 5.
- Dragonflies - These green insects will offer Rollie a flight and can shoot fireballs (a spoof on actual dragon). They appear in level 4 and 5.
- Bats - These mammals are a danger of riding the dragonfly. If the player flies too high, a bat eats Rollie, resulting in an instant kill. They appear in level 4 and 5.
- Caterpillars - These spiky creatures are like the slugs but bigger. They appear in level 4, 5 and 8
- Bees - These striped monsters follow Rollie wherever he goes. When they sting him, they die. They appear in level 4, 5, 6 and 7.
- Bee grubs - These small white grubs with bee faces can be killed either by being kicked or being jumped on. They appear in level 6 and 7.
- Drone bees - These muscular bees can fire their stingers but they die if they fire them. They appear in level 6 and 7.
- Queen bee - This giant bee can spew blobs of honey that generate lots of bees. When fighting her, avoid the shadows as they have spikes. Roll into her face to defeat her. She appears in level 7.
- Fire ants - These elite soldiers of King thorax can fly and shoot fire. They can be defeated by using a buddy bug. They appear in level 8, 9 and 10.
- Fireflies - These annoying creatures can carry Rollie off to somewhere that could kill him and explode from buddy bugs. They appear in level 8.
- Toxic gas roaches - These cockroaches have green gas masks that protect them from the toxic slime. In level 8, the slime they leave behind explodes, so they die without Rollie having to fight them. He will have to fight them himself in level 9 though.
- Ghost ants - If you kill a spear throwing ant in level 9, he will rise again as a ghost ant. He cannot be kicked but he will die if he is in lava or water. If you hide for a while, he will dissipate.
- King Thorax - The game's final boss. The king of the fire ants can shoot sparks from his staff and to defeat him, Rollie will have to kick the water pipes so they quench the fire on his head, then kick him. After he repeats this process, King Thorax will fall and the game will be completed.
The Mac OS version of Bugdom received overwhelmingly positive reviews, according to a 70% on GameRankings. Dziga Robilev of IGN rated Bugdom a 7/10, calling it "one of the best crafted platform games available for the Mac." However, Robilev also stated "The only thing holding this baby back is that the levels themselves don't offer enough variety. There is a lot of the same activity being performed over and over again. Still, the game is a fun play and younger gamers will definitely have a good time with it." MacMagazin rated the game a 6/6 Mac score, saying "We are sure: Bugdom will be the summer hit this year among the Mac games." iMacSidian rated the game a 5/5, saying "Bugdom really fills the huge gap of platform games for the Mac... The graphics are absolutely top notch - you have to see it to believe it." Mac Gamer's Ledge rated the game a 4.5 out of 5 score, calling it "a feast for the eyes and ears." AppleLinks called the game's musical score "fantastic" and called the game "one of the first games that really can be enjoyed by both children and adults." Inside Mac Games rated the game a 4/5, saying "Bugdom is certainly a great game... and it is good enough to rival many of the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation titles that it is similar to. Its easy-to-grasp controls and interface are almost totally transparent, even to new users, and the feel of the game is just plush and polished - as is the look."
There is also a sequel to Bugdom, which is called Bugdom 2. It featured a similar style of gameplay, but with a grasshopper who has to get his knapsack back by going in and around a house.
- Pangea Software museum
- Bugdom from Pangea Software
- Bugdom for Windows from Ideas From the Deep
- Bugdom Game Translation Provider
- Part 1 of a Youtube-based Fan Fiction