A Bug's Life Review

Children looking to relive the fun of the movie should be pleased with the simplicity of the game.

Like any medium, the video game has a target audience. Every game ever produced has been geared toward a specific type of player, and as such, children's video games often have a distinct simplicity. A Bug's Life, however, deftly avoids that stereotype and delivers a worthwhile experience to a more mature audience without losing its appeal to those who are younger.

Following the plot of the movie, you, as Flik, a young and adventurous ant, must save Ant Island and its inhabitants from the evil Hopper and his army of grasshoppers. This quest revolves around a jaunt into the city to recruit other insects to help you defeat the more-powerful grasshoppers. To do this, you rely on your attunement to nature and manipulate magic seeds scattered about the area. Tokens found within the level allow these seeds to grow into various types of plants that accomplish different goals. Some seeds can be moved, and some are needed to accomplish more than one task. On top of this, you'll have to avoid the hordes of respawning ant predators who'd like nothing better than to have a tasty Flik steak. Enemies can be eliminated in one of two ways: by jumping on them, Mario-style, or by tossing a berry their way. You can find more-powerful berries about the level, most of which will auto-target your enemies.

I was really let down by the game's complete lack of cutscenes. You would think that with all that computer-generated material to draw from, converting some of them to in-game cinemas would be a no-brainer. However, this game has none of that. Instead, it uses stills and text to tell the story. The game's levels are nicely rendered, enemies are distinctly identifiable (retaining Pixar's cartoon style), and lighting is done well. Disney paid good attention to small details, and added some welcome surprises, such as giving Flik a backpack to wear on some of the levels and letting Flik explore the insides of overturned bottles. Unfortunately, there is a large amount of fog in most of the outdoor levels, making things difficult to deal with. Easily the biggest difficulty in this game is working with the sometimes horrible camera angles, and you'll find yourself switching to the nonmoving camera just to manually adjust your viewpoint more than once.

The soundtrack's upbeat muzak-like score may have you reminiscing of shopping at a grocery store, but at least it's nonabrasive and fits the game's theme. The game is peppered with sporadic uses of voice, as Flik makes comments about items that he discovers, or about enemies he takes out; this is cute at first, but it soon gets extremely annoying. Unfortunately, enemies don't make much noise, and the other sound effects are pretty weak.

Aside from some complex uses of the seeds, this game can be simplified to walking around while constantly pressing the berry-throw button. While using all the seeds in the level lead to rewards, the game can be beaten with a minimal amount of effort, which, I'm sure, appeals to younger audiences. Children looking to relive the fun of the movie should be pleased with the simplicity of the game, while older audiences might enjoy the complexity behind using the seeds to gain the level's secrets.

The Good

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The Bad

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