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The Ant Bully Review

Developer: A2M Publisher: Midway Games
Release Date: July 25, 2006 Also On: GCN, PC and PS2

Another children’s movie. Another movie-based platformer. With rare exceptions, such as THQ’s recent Cars, children’s movies seem to come alongside a licensed platformer. In the case of The Ant Bully, the licensed game is being released by Midway, not a company known for releasing many children’s games. It is a bold new step for them, but were they able to prove themselves able to take it well?

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Graphically, The Ant Bully is about what you’d expect from a licensed platformer: the graphics are pretty good but do not maximize the capabilities of the systems the game was released on. I cannot comment on how the graphics compare to the movie as I have not seen the movie, but they look enough like computer-animated cartoon graphics that emulation of the movie could be what they were going for, but either way, the graphics do not detract at all from the experience of the game, and the loading times, while not necessary for this level of graphics, are not long enough to hinder the experience too much either.

On the sound front, I have no real complaints. The music is unobtrusive but done well, with the title theme in particular being somewhat memorable. The voice acting is also done well, both in the cut-scenes and in the actual game, and there are enough phrases in the actual game that you won’t have to get tired of the same one or two throughout the entire experience. It is true that the sound effects are typical platformer fare, but that doesn’t diminish the experience at all. Overall, the sound is done quite well.

So far as gameplay is concerned, this is a mission-based platformer with a hub area that can be traversed between missions. Completing the missions only serves to open up more of the hub area and the areas that you traverse in the missions are the areas that get opened up, a fact which makes sense since the ants would work in one large area. As the hub area opens up more, you can go back to areas you visited in previous missions and check them for items that you may have missed. This game is a collect-a-thon, but you aren’t collecting icons for completing missions. Rather, you are collecting firestones or something like that that are strewn around the areas, which are one of the things you might go back to previous areas to look for.

Each new mission has to be completed in order, which is a bit of a downgrade from the traditional rule of collect-a-thon games that you have some choice what order you perform the tasks in, but it is probably that way to follow the course of the movie, so it is a forgivable variance. Difficulty-wise, this game is easy enough, made even easier by the fact that you can die in the missions and you’ll get revived infinite times, often very close to where you died, with the only difference being what kind of medal you get upon beating the mission. Going back to get gold medals in previously beaten missions is worth the effort though as the medals you earn have an influence on when you unlock new abilities.

So, what are the flaws in this game? Truth be told, there aren’t any major flaws to speak of. It’s a bit on the easy side, but that’s to be expected from this type of game. But the controls work well, and the game is sufficiently entertaining and accessible to most gamers. My one complaint would be the fact that it has a Zelda-style jump system (you jump automatically when you walk off the edge of a platform), which will take most platformer fans a bit of time to get used to, but that’s a personal preference more than a problem.

This is the type of game that you’ll probably beat and then never touch again, and it isn’t the world’s longest game, but if you are a fan of this movie, you could do far worse than to buy this game. Even if you aren’t a fan of the movie, if you are a fan of platformers, you should at least try it.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 6.9
Written by Martin Review Guide