Ant Nation Hands-On

What doesn't kill your ants makes them stronger in Konami's upcoming WiiWare game.


It stands to reason that Miyamoto isn't the only developer out there who has channeled his love of nature into inspiration for a video game. If that's the case, then Konami's upcoming WiiWare title Ant Nation is probably the anti-nature-loving game, since it revolves around the "beloved" (Konami's words, not ours) childhood past time of...torturing ants?

OK, yes, a little on the odd side, but once you get over the odd premise, there's a bit more to the game than bug torture. It turns out that you're torturing the ants for a reason. A kindly professor has put you in charge of tending to an ant colony and is on hand to offer tips as you "help" the little guys out. Basically, the ants get stronger as you damage them to the point of near death, and the key to success is not to murder them. If you do your job right, the ants will recover and be stronger, which makes them better prepared for dealing with the challenge posed by roughly 100 missions and 20 unlockable bonus challenges. Stronger ants are also better at dealing with local hazards, such as spiders and the dreaded ladybug menace.

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You'll buff out your ants through a variety of different "tough love" methods by using various items in your toolbox, which require the expected amount of waggling and waving. For example, the laser emits a concentrated beam of energy that you'll aim at the ants going about their business. Of course, not everything in your toolbox is used for painful actions. You'll be able to drop candy and let the ants regain their strength after you've fried or bashed them, or you can place flags to direct them. Finally you'll also be able to use the Wii Remote as a metal detector to find gold, because much like rappers, ants need their bling. The gold also serves as currency to access new content for your toolbox.

Ant Nation's visuals consist of a small patch of ground with ants coming out of it, surrounded by some greenery and local bugs. The view pulls back some to give you a better look at things, but for the most part, it appears that you'll be watching ants move to and fro out of a hole. For what it's worth, the ants look pretty good for being so tiny, and the effects for the tools are well done. There's some variety to the visuals, but don't expect to be blown away by photo-realistic graphics. This isn't that kind of game.

If you liked torturing ants as a kid, your time has come. Ant Nation seems to have the potential to be a decent time killer for those hankering for some mellow, casual playing. Ant Nation is slated to hit the Wii online store later this year. If you hunger for more ant-torturing game options, be sure to check out the DS version of the game, which takes a more traditional real-time strategy approach.

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