|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||A Bug's Life|
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|Distributor:||Sony SCEA||1 Player|
|Game Type:||3rd Person Adventure||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||December 1998||Dual Shock/Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Ever wonder what it would be like to be bug...more specifically an ant? Well Sony's new title, A Bugs Life is here and offers to give gamers a glimpse into the life and times of one little ant named Flik. It seems that Flik is a rather spastic, but brilliant little ant that is constantly coming up with all sorts of new and potentially dangerous ideas. This particular story is about one of Fliks inventions that went terribly wrong. You see, each year the ants at Ant Island try to harvest food for the upcoming winter months, yet each year a swam of grasshoppers, let by a mean SOB named Hopper, come storming through and steal all of the ants food. In an effort to make enough food for both the ants and the grasshoppers, Flik creates a "harvester" machine. Of course, the machine doesn't work quite right and ends up destroying the entire ant crop. Now the ants are ticked off because all of their hard work has been ruined and the grasshoppers are pissed because all of their food is gone. As the grasshoppers are leaving they tell the ants that they will be back at the end of the season and now they expect double the food! Trying to figure out how to help the ants out the mess he just got them into, Flik decides to go on an adventure to find bugs that are bigger than the grasshoppers and bring them back to help defend Ant Island. Being a bug must really suck though...I mean, all of the perils that go along with being that tiny and at the low end of the food chain and all. Check it out, you have to watch for all sorts of things that are looking to add you to their menu or just to stomp you out of existence completely. A Bug's Life places you squarely into the husk of one would be bug hero...for better or worse, you dang well better try to start thinking like a bug or it's off to the ant cemetery you go!
A Bug's Life is an adventure laden title played out from a third ant perspective.
Startling panoramic views go a long way in giving you the perception of playing through a wonderful 3D world from the vantage point of a 1-inch tall ant. I found the graphics to be very much like those found in Spyro, with nicely animated characters as well as backgrounds that are in constant motion. It's amazing just how much power the little Playstation has in it to produce such wonderfully vivid surroundings. There are also some nice CG cut scenes that play out in between levels to help progress the plotline.
Sounds and Effects
Pretty good sound effects and music that mimic the actual movie quite nicely are abundantly dished out in A Bug's Life. The music has a rather universal, almost "New Age" sound to it that fits in perfectly with this kind of game. Personally, I don't particularly enjoy this kind of music but I can appreciate the way it blended in with the overall scheme of the storyline. Sound effects are amusing, with neat little splats when throwing berries connect with an enemy and the rather soothing voice of Flik giving his impressions on the surroundings.
A Bug's Life puts gamers in control of an onscreen ant named Flik. Full analog control is supported as you navigate this little pipsqueak through his perilous journey. I am now completely convinced that programmers have figured out how to present and execute a very satisfying 3D environment on the Playstation. Gex and Croc where the first games that really stepped outside the box and made people realize that Mario style games were indeed possible on that little gray box. Now it seems that every month one or two new 3D-style games are making their way to market to grace the PSX, with A Bug's Life being the latest. Being based on a movie I immediately get a wheezy feeling in my gut. I mean, how many successful "movie to game" conversions can you think of? I'm willing to bet not many. Take that into account and then add the fact the a Bug's Life (the movie) was created with some of the most cutting edge state of the art silicon available today and you've got the potential for a real video game conversion nightmare here. Surprisingly the graphics, while certainly no comparison to the movie, are very well realized. The problems begin though when you try moving Flik about. I found that the analog control left a bit to be desired, as I just couldn't seem to get into the zone throughout the entire game. Camera tracking was fine and there is even a manual override feature that requires the push of a shoulder button, but I just found it too frustrating to get the character to walk a straight line or to pull off some of the more intricate moves. The game consists of you moving Flik along in his adventure through 15 interactive environments that play out similar to the movie. The environments are actually sub levels for each of the 5 lands that you will visit. In order to be permitted to leave one land and begin the next, you must first defeat the boss character for that land. I found the bosses to be pretty good and provided a decent enough challenge...definitely getting harder as you progress to the later areas of the game. In order to defeat your opponents you heave berries at them. You start the game with some crappy red berries that require several hits to kill even the minor enemy bugs and cannot kill some off the stronger bugs no matter how many red berries you whack them with. Luckily there are all different kinds of colored berries placed throughout the land for you to find, from blue to green to purple to the ultimate golden berries. In your journey to meet new bug friends to bring back to Ant Island, you can certainly elect to take the beaten path and finish the game. But for those adventurous ones, there are tons of hidden paths and things to find. Take for instance grain...on each level there is a set amount of these tokens to find and pick up. Once you've collected all of them for that level, you get a grain token and full health! There are also Flik tokens scattered about...find the letters and spell out Flik and get yourself an extra life. You can also elect to wipe out all of the enemies on a given level to receive the Enemy token. The gameplay strategy is pretty cool, as you must figure out where to use seed power to grow a plant or leaf and where to use mushrooms to bounce onto raised ledges. All of your icons, for growing things, how much grain collected, health, etc., are neatly displayed on screen by pressing the Select button. Finally you will occasionally find Dewdrop Telescopes. When you find one of these, look through it to find hidden items or the exit location of that level.
Value for Money
A Bugs Life offers up a pretty good value. It's one of those games that you can attempt to zip right through just finish or continue to go back to it and try to find all of the hidden items that are strewn about the game. The levels are pretty diverse and challenging and should hold players interest long enough to complete the game at least once, if not multiple times to see if you can find everything that's in there.
Bug's Life to be quite honest bugged me. I mean I loved the graphics,
thought the sound was okay and was impressed with the games overall
strategy... but I just could not quite get into the zone while playing
through it. This is really probably more of a personal thing than a
problem with the game itself though, as it really does flow along quite
nicely, it just wasn't my mug of brew.
At any rate, a Bugs Life plays out very similar to the movie and offers gamers a true bugs eye view on life. After playing this game I will certainly have a bit more respect for these little critters before I stomp on 'em next time.