A Bug's Life

A Bug's Life on N64

Are you Bug Enough?

by Johnny Bray

Disney/Pixar's hugely successful movie, A Bug's Life, has crawled onto the N64 system, courtesy of Activision.

You play as Flik, the heroic ant from the movie. Your job is to save your colony from the attacking grasshoppers, who, as in the old fairy tale, don't work during the summer, and therefore have no food for the winter.

Unfortunately, maybe it's because it is targeted at children, I didn't enjoy the game at all.

The main problem with the game, despite its being aimed at kids, is its complexity. The N64 controller has way too many buttons, and this game tries to make use of them all when it could have easily gotten by with two or three - even adults will have trouble keeping track of all the buttons. I'm sure there are many kids out there who would get extremely frustrated with the controls and toss their system out the window.

As with many N64 games, another annoying aspect is the camera angles. If Nintendo and its software suppliers would worry more about making good games and less about "artsy camera angles," they would have a dynamite system on their hands. In "A Bug's Life, sometimes, when you walk behind something, the system tries to get behind your character and you end up just getting a close-up view of that object.

On the plus side, one good aspect about the game is is graphics. Despite my earlier complaint about camera angles, the N64 has the ability to create wonderful 3-D environments, and this game is no exception. You can walk almost anywhere you want to, jumping on almost anything. Just watch out for that camera!

One thing that may upset many kids is the lack of actors' voices from the movie. The N64's biggest flaw, compared to the Sony Playstation, is that it doesn't do speech very well. A Bug's Life includes a few quotes from Flik, but they're very quiet and muffled. Children would undoubtedly love this game a lot more if it had all the characters doing their routines from the movie.

As far as game play goes, there are many different ways to enjoy yourself. You can start off with a tutorial, where you can learn the game's complexities; Once you're up to speed, you can gather grain to gain more health, collect all four letters of your name (F-L-I-K) to gain an extra life, and you can upgrade your "berry attack".

Unfortunately, there are just too many things for a young kid to remember - but not enough to keep more experienced gamers interested: I found myself just trying to get to the end so I could get it over with.

When all is said and done, Activision's "A Bug's Life" seems like a six (and in some cases, eight)-legged version of Sony's Crash Bandicoot, or the N64's Mario 64, except not as good.

Still, if you are a youngster with a good memory and a lot of patience, you may enjoy this game. Otherwise, I would crawl slowly and silently around it.