A Bug's Life

a game by Travellers Tales (Uk) Ltd., and Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64 GameBoy Color Playstation PSX
Genres: Action, Adventure/RPG
Editor Rating: 7.3/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 6.9/10 - 7 votes
Rate this game:
A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life

In the rush to score thumb-time with youthful gamers, Sony's unleashed Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Spyro the Dragon, and... A Bug's Life. In that lineup, Bug's Life is definitely a distant third, but that ain't all bad.

They Got Ants

A Bugs Life retells the Disney animated flick about.. .err, Flik, a workaholic ant who's trying to wrest his colony from the greedy clutches of a gang of grasshopper goons.The CD presents good 3D action/adventure hop-n-bop gameplay spread through 15 levels. Platform-style challenges primarily involve trying to get Flik up and around various objects and obstacles to grab power-up icons.The icons sprout a neat strategy element as Flik uses them to grow from seeds (scattered around the landscape) into a variety of ingeniously designed plants that help him reach new heights (literally).

Luckily, Flik has an arm that you can use to pitch bug-blasting berries like a major-league closer. Plus, the enemy insects have only insect-sized robotic A.I--though they'll take their toll on you if you're not careful.

Controls, however, are.. .well, antsy.They're loose and sensitive. Moreover, Flik has a tendency to take extra steps whenever he lands from a jump.The graphics run hot and cold. Cool character pics paint true-to-the-film bugs and the minuscule world is imaginative, but the camera bangs around the environment to reveal annoying clipping. Outstanding animated story scenes from the film salvage the visuals.

That's Life

You have to work the camera, but Bug's is a fun If light game. Fans of the film, average platform gamers, and kids should enjoy Life.

ProTips:

  • Flik's allies hang out on the tops of boxes in Level Eight's city square.
  • Experiment with two power-ups at a time to create powerful tools like this super jump/shleld combo.
  • If you collect a homing berry, rapidly press the throw button as you move to create a bug-busting berry hailstorm.

Game Reviews

A Bug's Life leaps off the silver screen onto the PlayStation with promising platform-hopping and item-throwing action.

ANTSY GAMEPLAY

Based on the upcoming movie of the same name (created by Pixar. the same studio that gave us Toy Star), A Bug's Life pits ants against grasshoppers in over 15 levels with different settings, themes, and bosses. As Flik the ant, you'll battle grasshoppers in underground tunnels, avoid birds who see you as lunch, and dodge cars in the big city. There are even fellow ants gone bad who are out to foil Flik's fun.

ANT-TASTIC INSECT FUN

Not unlike Crash Bandicoot or MediEvil. A Bug's Life features hop-n-bop gameplay and puzzle-solving in full 3D environments. However. A Bug's Life is ultimately geared more toward younger gamers: It's easy to play, with only a few techniques and very cutesy characters. As for the hero Flik. he can run. jump, throw items, and move objects. One of Life's cooler aspects is the ability to grow plants to use. For example, if you jump on a mushroom seed, it'll bloom into a trampoline that can bounce you to otherwise inaccessible areas. You can also move seeds around in the levels as needed.

WHAT THE FLIK?

Although the game isn't finished, the preview version was plagued with a flagging frame rate, bouts of slowdown, and pop-up problems. The various stages, however, were colorful, featuring some cool graphic effects, such as gliding across a giant canyon while holding a dandelion stem. The controls had one significant sore spot: Precision jumps were a guessing game rather than a test of skill. Otherwise, moving Flik around the gigantic levels was a breeze.

After Toy Story, fans have eagerly been awaiting the next film to come out of Pixar Entertainment which we now know is A Bug's Life. Faster than you can say, "How can I make more money?" we have a video game adaptation of what should be another quality picture. You take control of an outcast ant named Flik who has to save his colony from a band of no-good grasshoppers. The game will follow the major story points of the movie highlighting the most exciting action-oriented moments. There are a total of 15 levels which are broken up into five acts with three levels each. Your nemesis and leader of the grasshoppers is Hopper who believes ants are meant to serve his kind. There are a bunch of supporting characters who will help Flik out in various ways (we don't want to give away too much).

The action takes place from a third-person perspective behind Flik which allows you to take in the view from his angle. You'll explore ant tunnels, in addition to dense grass, which will seem like a vast jungle to Flik. The environments which seem like towering mountains and deep trenches are only small ant hills and small ditches. The objectives of each mission are quite varied and have different antagonists. In the first level, he must defeat Thumper and escape Ant Island. In Level 2, he has to escape from and defeat a bird that is trying to make a small meal of Flik. Later on he'll have to run through a riverbed filled with baddies intent on making the road to the other side as difficult as possible. The development aspect of the game is being handled by Travelers Tales which is a group known for their graphic excellence.

A Bug's Life certainly shows a lot of promise and hopefully will offer up a better experience than the last game Travelers was responsible for (the beautiful, but unplayable Rascal). The version we've played has some good graphics and detailed worlds but lacks solid control. The game is slotted to be released at the same time as the movie, so let's hope things come together for both projects.

Overview

Hit movies always lead to hit games. Wouldn't it be great if that were the rule? Usually the opposite is true. Having an existing intellectual property that sells is usually a license to throw a pile of dung inside the wrapper. A Bug's Life is actually only a few marks shy of a very good game.

Gameplay

A Bug's Life is a comic action game with different goals in each of 15 levels. Most of the goals deal with getting Flik to do events that match the storyline of the movie. When you finish a level, you earn the right to go to the next level. Each new level starts with a new short animation from the movie. If you collect all of the bonus items in a level you get a bonus movie. Bonus items include 50 pieces of grain, four letters that spell F-L-I-K and permanently finishing off each enemy bug. To guide you through levels there are little floating telescopes that will show you areas you want to make it to.

Major sections of the game include Ant Island, Leaving Ant Island, Little Bug, Big City, Return to Ant Island, and Grasshopper War. In general, you'll want to simply exhaust each level of every item you can find. You will want to search every nook and cranny to get the bonus items.

Flik's weapons in each of the levels are earned by collecting berries. When you find a new color it changes the strength and/or ability of your weapon. These are projectile missiles which never run out. Red is the weakest and doesn't do much damage (not even hurting the tougher foes. Blue does more damage. Green is heat-seeking and will hone in on whatever the nearest critter is. Finally, the explosive gold berries will wipe out critters so they don't come back (normally creatures will come back after about 20 seconds). Wiping out all of the enemy bugs on each level is part of the requirements to earn the level's bonus animation.

Throughout each level are a variety of types of seeds. Some seeds are partially buried in the ground. These seeds can be transformed by Flik into a specific kind of plant that can help him solve problems within the level. Other seeds can be transformed into whatever plants Flik has gained the ability to do by acquiring different colored tokens. These seeds can also be carried around the level and reused to solve a variety of different problems. Sometimes you will have to use two or even three seeds together to solve tougher problems.

Brown tokens help Flik jump higher. With the first one Flik can make a mushroom to jump on. Two tokens allow the creation of propeller plans which fling Flik higher into the air. Three tokens allow Flik to grow a Dandelion, the spores of which allow Flik to float long distances (there is one level that is built around this technique). Finally, with four brown tokens a cannon plant can be grown to shoot Flik high into the air for those impossible to reach areas.

Green tokens helps Flik climb higher. Each new berry allows Flik to create a larger green leafy plant to climb up.

Blue tokens allow the creation of gift plants that give off different abilities including temporary invincibility, restored health, bubble shields, and super jump.

Yellow tokens create different fixed weapons which continuously fire projectiles at steady rates. Sometimes this is the only way to take care of tough grasshoppers.

Some levels also included Flik's harvesting invention (hidden somewhere in the level) which can be used to collect grain and kill off enemy bugs as if you had the gold berries. It's kind of like walking around inside a little tank which not only attracts things but hurts them when they make contact.

All the basic moves are here, you run around and jump. You also have a throw button for tossing berries. By holding down R1 or L1 you can walk slowly, which is especially helpful in tricky areas like ledges and tall plants. When you are around the big seeds you can switch through mini menus to choose which plant you want to grow. It is a reasonably good 3D engine, not always a given despite the plethora of 3D games.

The biggest annoyance with playing this game is that if you die, you have to re-load your information just to start on the same level. Also, it keeps track of how many lives you last saved at, which is nice if you had a lot, but nasty if you only had one or two. It would be more user friendly if it always started you with a minimum of three lives every time. Otherwise one slip up and you have to go through the loading sequence again, and that's only if you skip the animation telling you it's game over.

The other minor problem I had with the game was the menu system that allowed you to choose to load a game or save a game based on which button you pushed. Granted each selection asks you to verify your choice. But after being forced to re-load the game too often you get too used to breezing by the verification. I would much prefer a menu that required me to move the cursor to the desired selection. (Yes, I accidentally loaded over one of my key games ... doh!).

Graphics

All of the levels and bugs are highly detailed and look good on screen. It is possible to get the 3D world stuck in annoying angles but for the most part, the game looks great. I also really enjoyed the animations.

Bottom Line

If you like comical animation games, then this game is worth playing. Earning all of the different animations is fun. You can watch them all in order, once you've earned them and saved your progress. This is one game based on a license that actually turns out to be a decent game. Definitely rentable and worth buying if you want to exhaust every level.

People say:

4

Like most movie-licensed titles, A Bug's Life packs hefty production values--namely when it comes to the music and voice acting, which have been ripped right from the flick. (Still, the main character's repetitive quips get old quick.) Oh yeah, and also like most movie-licensed games, A Bug's Life sucks. If I didn't know better, I'd say the person in charge of the control scheme here never played a video game before. The hero, plucky ant lad Flik, has a nasty tendency to keep on movin' after you let off the joypad. You're thus forced to anticipate where his momentum will take him when you near a ledge and let off the stick extra early. Fun. The camera has a serious attitude problem, too. It never seems to look where you need it, forcing you to tinker with it about once every 10 seconds. And it pans so slowly it makes the sluggish camera in the Tomb Raider games seem turbo-charged. Most of the levels are tedious, with annoying puzzles that involve you dragging seeds everywhere, while the bosses themselves are about as stupid as real bugs. At least the graphics are nice. Actually, they're downright amazing, even if the game suffers from occasional slowdown that bogs gameplay into surreal slow motion. The cinemas hit every plot point, too, so don't play A Bug's Life till you've seen the movie.

4

This game annoys me most because it actually could've been a decent kid's game if the damned camera worked right-which consequently makes controlling little Flik a real pain in the gastor. Well, then there's the respawning enemies (did somebody say annoying?) and the below-average graphics. OK, so I guess the game does have its share of problems. Overall, I might recommend this to kids, but not serious gamers.

6

Obviously this game is cashing in on the appeal of the movie rather than its own quality. To be fair, it's good-looking and the control isn't horrible or anything. It's just too simple and repetitive. Many of the bosses simply stand still letting you to pummel them to death. Plus, little bees and well-placed clues practically solve the levels for you. It's a little too cross-promotional for me. Naturally, little kids may like it anyway. Go figure.

4

Being from the old-school, I know games based on Disney-animated movies can be worthwhile. So what happened here? There's nothing I hate more than some average 3D action/adventure that I won't remember a few weeks from now. Maybe little Sushis out there will get a kick out of all of the cartoony insects but I sure didn't. I like to think of myself as open-minded, but there's no way I can recommend this, even to kids.

Snapshots and Media

Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

Playstation Screenshots

GameBoy Color Screenshots

Similar Games

Viewing games 1 to 17
X More on GameFabrique Earthworm Jim

Download Earthworm Jim