Bugaboo (The Flea)

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Bugaboo (The Flea)
Developer(s)Paco & Paco
Designer(s)Paco Suarez
Paco Portalo
Platform(s)ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC
Mode(s)Single player

Bugaboo (The Flea), later published in Spain as La Pulga, is a video game written by the Spanish programming duo Paco Portalo and Paco Suarez[1][2] for the ZX Spectrum and published by Quicksilva in 1983. It was later released for the Commodore 64 and MSX were produced. The Amstrad CPC port was published under the name Roland in the Caves[2] using the Roland character.

Bugaboo, besides being the first video game made in Spain,[3][4] is one of the first computer games to include cutscenes. Its publication marked the beginning of the Golden Era of Spanish Software. A sequel was released in Spain by Opera Soft under the title Poogaboo, made by Paco Suarez. Paco Portalo, [5] the other member of Paco & Paco, left the project after the publication of the original game for the ZX Spectrum.

The player takes control of a flea who has fallen into a cavern and must escape.


Bugaboo at the bottom of the screen with the dragon approaching from the left (ZX Spectrum)

The game begins with an animation depicting Bugaboo, a small, yellow creature with two extremely long legs, jumping around on a colourful planet before accidentally falling through a crack in the planet's surface and falling to the bottom of a cavern.

The player must control Bugaboo and guide him back to the top of the cavern, and out to the safety of the planet's surface.

There are only two control keys: left and right. When a key is held down a gauge at the bottom of the screen begins to fill up. When the key is released, Bugaboo will jump in that direction, with the strength of the jump being determined by how long the key was held down. The cavern is made up of various rocky ledges which Bugaboo may land on; however he can only stand on a flat area and, if a jump is mistimed, Bugaboo may end up on an angled area of rock, or miss the ledge altogether, which will cause him to fall straight down, landing on whatever is below.

Bugaboo can fall from any distance without dying. The only way to lose a life is for Bugaboo to make contact with the large, yellow dragon which wanders around the cave. Bugaboo can escape the dragon by carefully leaping away, or by taking refuge inside one of the smaller caverns that are located around the play area.[6][7][8]


Reviews were overwhelmingly positive, with CRASH giving the game 92%,[6] Computer and Video Games awarding it 8/10 and their Game of the Month[8] and Personal Computer Games giving it 7/10.[7]

CRASH said that "Bugaboo is a high quality arcade standard game, and it's highly addictive too. This game will definitely be a top seller!"[6] while Personal Computer Games said that "...if you like a challenge, then this is it. Be patient though. It's not that easy to get back to the top."[7] and Computer and Video Games praised the game's "Breath-taking graphics" and "perfect animation" and decided that "... a fresh and original approach to game design have been combined to produce yet another top rate game."[8] Tony Hetherington of Computer Gamer magazine included the game in "The Spectrum Collection" - "15 classic games that all Spectrum owners should have".[9]

Bugaboo reached number 3 in the Spectrum Top 10 charts compiled by WH Smith behind Lunar Jetman and Durell's Jungle Trouble.[10] In 1984 the game reached number 2 in the Commodore 64 charts compiled by Boots the Chemist, kept off the number 1 position by Manic Miner[11] and Crazy Kong.[12] Amsoft's version, Roland in the Caves, reached number 4 in the Amstrad chart later in the year.[13] In January 1984 it appeared in the TOP 20 of Your Computer magazine.[14]


Bugaboo (The Flea) was one of the first home computer games to a contain cutscene.[15] It was also one of the first games to measure the player's time to completion.[16]

The game's popularity spawned the creation of a book in 2009 entitled Bugaboo, un hito en la Historia del software español by Francisco Portalo Calero (i.e., Paco Portalo, one of the original authors of the game) and published by Universidad de Extremadura, which is available online.[17]


  1. ^ Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  2. ^ a b "Bugaboo the Flea | Retro Gamer". 15 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Primer videojuego español". Conocer. La vida y el universo. Ediciones Tiempo S.A, nº 11, Abril 1984 p.24
  4. ^ "Top Ten juegos españoles de 8 bits - Artículo en MERISTATION". Archived from the original on 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  5. ^ Francisco Portalo and Eduardo Mena, "Los videojuegos como paradigma de innovación en los orígenes de la industria del software español", Novática, ISSN 0211-2124, number 231, pp. 99-106, Enero-Marzo 2015 (Spanish)
  6. ^ a b c d "Bugaboo (The Flea) Review", CRASH, February 1984
  7. ^ a b c d "Bugaboo (The Flea) Review", Personal Computer Games, February 1984
  8. ^ a b c d "Bugaboo (The Flea) Review", Computer and Video Games, April 1984
  9. ^ "The Spectrum Collection", Tony Hetherington, Computer Gamer, August 1985
  10. ^ "Top 10". Popular Computing Weekly. No. 48. Sunshine Publications. 1 December 1983. p. 70. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Top 10". Popular Computing Weekly. No. 11. Sunshine Publications. 15 March 1984. p. 58. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  12. ^ "Top 10". Popular Computing Weekly. No. 15. Sunshine Publications. 12 April 1984. p. 70. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  13. ^ "Top 10". Popular Computing Weekly. No. 47. Sunshine Publications. 22 November 1984. p. 66. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  14. ^ "TOP 20. Your Computer Vol.4 No.1 p.54 (archive.org)". January 1984.
  15. ^ Estevez, Jaume (Jun 2012). Ocho quilates : una historia de la Edad de oro del software español. Star-T Magacine Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-84-615-9131-2. (Spanish)
  16. ^ Livingston, Greg (Apr 27, 2016). "Interview with Francisco Portalo Calero (Paco Portalo)" (Interview). The Commune. Retrieved Aug 31, 2023.
  17. ^ Portalo-Calero, Francisco (2009). "Bugaboo, un hito en la Historia del Software Español" (in Spanish). Servicio Publicaciones. Universidad de Extremadura. Retrieved 16 October 2022..

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