The Ant Bully Review

By Adam Aragon, GN Writer

Ant Bully
is, of course, an adaptation of the animated feature film of the same name. While many films have tie-in games these days, I was curious to see if this colorful and cute movie would be one of the few Hollywood-inspired games which is actually exciting and fun to play. The answer is a resounding yawn. The game is a solid kids platformer, but unless you’re a kid this game will probably have trouble holding your interest.

The plot follows the plight of Lucas, a young boy like any other—until he is magically shrunk to the size of an ant, and forced to co-exist with ants and their lifestyle. While the movie tells you everything you NEED to know, the game focuses on concepts and scenes that were outside the scope of the film, filling in blanks and basically rounding out the story even further with this new information. While this is a nice concept—and I hold no reservations with the quality of the film—the plot points brought to light were anything but fascinating. Several leaders of the ant colony are apparently lazy, and need you to run around collecting things they’ve lost or forgotten while they wait for you to return, then rinse and repeat.

This is not to say there is no variety in the missions, but the concept feels bland for anyone other than the very young. You run to and fro collecting objects or goals, and fulfilling the whims of the overly preachy ant leaders. How you play is also pointed towards the young crowd that would generally enjoy this type of  game. There are very few controls initially; you’re pretty much limited to running, rolling, and attacking. Some movements are purely context-based like jumping, which really threw me for a loop. When you are attempting to jump from one platform to another, you don’t run up to the edge and hit the jump button—you simply run. The character then jumps on his own at the right moment, if it can be done. This takes the already feeble challenge out of the supposed platformer and makes the gameplay experience truly “child’s play.” Auto-jump aside, the controls are somewhat mushy but generally get the job done well enough for any task presented in the game. It’s odd, but easy.

Combat is another aspect of the game, and the enemies you fight are fairly interesting. Oversized versions of cartoony wasps, spiders, and other ant-threatening life forms team up to make your life miserable, and the melee can get quite intense when you’re surrounded by dozens of attacking creatures. Aiming is fairly sloppy, as is some of the camera work and control mid-combat. So you may find yourself frustrated in heated battles. That being said, you’ll still end battles victorious 90 percent of the time, and not too much the worse for the wear. The repetition does wear on you eventually, fighting the same swarms of unintelligent AI bugs time after time, and there’s not too much more to it other than a few rare boss battles.

The land in which the game takes place is a bit more interesting than the gameplay. The game borrows heavily (as it should) from the animation, style, and colors of the existing movie to recreate a world that is very colorful, friendly, and accessible. The graphics themselves are a little dated, though. The 3D world seems solid and cohesive, but there is a distinct lack of detail, quality, and imagination in level design. The ant creatures are done true-to-movie, and the character models for everything is fairly accurate, which helps slightly.

The dialogue present in the game is passable, and as mentioned before fairly “preachy.” The moral high road is the ant way, and you will not be given the opportunity to forget it! Almost every mission is followed by a lengthy voiceover about the noble plight of your fellow ant-lings. The talents of Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness) are much appreciated here, but his zany and varied talents are not used to their full potential. The remaining voice actors are solid, but no one really shines in this game.

As there have been many films adaptations thus far in video gaming—and most of them have never failed to disappoint to some degree—I shouldn’t be surprised by this particular title’s shortcomings. However, with a cast including Bruce Campbell and a solid movie to draw from, I hoped for more. If you have kids or younger siblings who are huge fans of the movie, they’ll probably be engrossed by controlling the movie’s hero onscreen. But unless you’re easily amused by such meager pickings or dislike a great deal of challenge in a game, then you will probably find yourself looking elsewhere for a new platformer. This is not a terrible title; it just fails to impress on multiple levels.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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