Wii

North America

The Ant Bully

by Steven Rodriguez - January 2, 2007, 2:07 pm PST
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4

Ants spend most of their time collecting stuff. Guess what you get to do in this game!

The Ant Bully game is based off of the CG animated film of the same name. In the movie, a little kid with has a thing for terrorizing ants gets shrunk down to ant size and faces the very ants he was destroying, eventually saving the colony from some exterminator guy. At least, I think that's how the movie goes, since I haven't seen it. One thing's for sure: I would rather spend $10 to enjoy the story in theaters than spend $50 and suffer through it in the Wii game.

It is natural for games to incorporate collect-a-thon missions or fetch quests into their designs. Good games will mask these stale modes of gameplay with fun ways to obtain the items in question, or will change the rules a bit to get the items in a roundabout way. The Ant Bully game fails do to either. The majority of the game forces you to collect items and bring them back to a goal area, with no real attempt to hide the fact that you're doing it. Pick up ant eggs and bring them back. Pick up parts for your first weapon. Pick up Fruit Loops and bring them back. Pick up parts to your second weapon. Pick up injured ant children and bring them back. Pick up parts to your third weapon. Pick up sugar crystals and bring them back. Pick up Item X and bring it back. Ugh.

The first half of the game is mostly spent going through these god-awful boring collect/return missions. There are actually just as many missions where you do things that aren't as bad, but they are very short compared to the time spent scavenging. The most notable example I can think of is a race sequence, where you have to lead a team of ants through an obstacle course within a time limit. That is fun to do, but it lasts less than five minutes. Some of the fetching missions, which are not fun, can take fifteen minutes or more to complete. The mission variety gets somewhat better in the second part of the game (though there are still plenty of collect quests), with more action-based missions and some decent boss battles. Getting to the second part of the game isn't something you'll enjoy doing, but the stuff that's there makes the game a little more worth playing.

In the process of collecting items, you'll need to kill ferocious creatures and interact with the environment. You can take down the pill bugs, earwigs, and spiders you come across by either swinging the Wii remote around or just hitting the B trigger. Even though there are some charge attacks that require the motion of the controller, you'll tend to favor pulling the trigger to attack. The weapons you obtain are gun-like in nature, and they can be manually aimed with the Wii remote or locked on to a particular enemy with the Z-targeting system. The locking system is very inconsistent, and the guns don't always shoot where you point the cursor. Sometimes, the cursor doesn't even show up on screen until you switch weapons a few times.

Then there's the game camera. Twisting the nunchuk will manually rotate it around. This doesn't work very well, because it prevents you from holding the nunchuk half of the controller in a position that's comfortable to you. If you want to kick back and put your arms to your sides, the camera will spin around. In trying to reposition the view you might shake the nunchuk a little too much, which will cause your character to roll forward. This happened to me a few times, and once or twice it caused me to fall off of a ledge. There are good uses for the nunchuk controls, like Ant Telepathy moves or controlling the first-person camera but they just don't show up enough to offset the sensitive motion controls during regular gameplay.

True to the movie, the same actors who voiced the big screen characters also make a vocal appearance in the game. One such voice is Bruce “The Man" Campbell. That alone gets the game bonus points in my book, because hey, it's Bruce Campbell. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the cast didn't seem to put much effort into their lines. It sounds as if they were just reading from a script without much effort. They must have been paid by the line as well, because the same four or five one-liners get repeated over and over again during gameplay.

The Ant Bully is a cookie-cutter collect-a-thon adventure, and the game makes absolutely no attempt to hide it from the player. It's also another example of why licensed videogames tend to suck. It's also another port to the Wii that, from a gamer's standpoint, probably shouldn't have been done. The mediocrity trifecta! It's another Wii launch game you shouldn't bother with.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
5.5 4 5 4 5.5 4
Graphics
5.5

Here's another game where not much was done to improve on what is essentially a port from the last-gen systems. The game looks acceptable, but the Wii should be able to do much, much better.

Sound
4

The Good: Bruce Campbell lends his voice to the game. The Bad: He and the other characters say the same four or five lines over and over again, and the story dialog sounds like they were just reading from the script without putting in much effort.

Control
5

Only the Ant Telepathy moves use the Wii controller well. Putting the camera controls on the nunchuk is a good idea, but it prevents you from holding that half of the controller in the way you want. The Z-targeting and shooting controls are just about worthless. Staff combat can be done with a remote swing, but you'll want to use the B trigger instead.

Gameplay
4

The game is mostly a collect-a-thon. Note to developers: These kinds of games are not fun. The good missions are too short for them to cancel out the long and boring fetching missions. The boss battles are decent, but you don't really start getting into them until deeper into the game. Chances are you'll give up before getting to it, though.

Lastability
5.5

It's about as long as you would expect a movie game to be, made longer because of the collection. If you see the game all the way through, be prepared to collect up a storm.

Final
4

There are other things to do in The Ant Bully besides running around and collecting items, but since the collect missions are so long, it's the thing I still remember the most about the game. The decency found in The Ant Bully does not have enough weight to keep things tipped toward the high side of the scale. The underlying problem may be that the source material just doesn't make for a good game; why would anyone want to play a game that mirrors what ants do for a living?

Summary

Pros
  • Some good missions
Cons
  • Boring collection missions define the game experience
  • Broken/useless Wiimote controls
  • Nunchuk controls prevent comfortable controller holding
  • Uninspired and repetitive voice acting
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Adventure
Developer A2M
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: The Ant Bully
Release Dec 02, 2006
PublisherMidway
RatingEveryone 10+

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