Ah movie tie-in games….how many are released & how many fail to live up to expectations. The amount of dud tie-in games is phenomenal but can mostly be chalked up to the rush to get them out in time. A Bug’s Life on the PS1 is no different….
Now here comes the difficult part because I have a serious soft spot for this game, I like it! I really do but I recognise its faults & there are many. I think part of the reason why I like it is that I really like the movie & the game stays completely true to it. The levels are parts & areas of the movie, the characters all make an appearance, the voices are really good & the music is top notch. Oh & you can unlock clips from the movies as well!
So as I said the game follows the plot of the film as the ‘means well but can’t quite get there’ ant Flik sets out on a quest to find some fighting bugs to come & protect his colony from a group of grasshoppers who bully the ants into feeding them. Flik will find his ‘heroes’ but they turn out to be circus bugs & not quite what he expected.
Each level consists of an area from the game from Ant Island to the big city where Flik goes to find his fighting bugs to the canyons with the bird. The main objective is to get to the end of the level, find things or beat a boss, nothing to clever. However there are a number of bonus objectives you can achieve per level that add to the difficulty & fun (you can unlock bonus clips!). They consists normally of you collecting every piece of grain in a level, collecting all 4 letters of Flik’s name & finding a golden berry to permanently kill all the enemies of a level.
That is something that annoys me, you can only temporarily kill an enemy unless you have a golden berry….so expect to take damage over & over again as the same bad-guy randomly pops up again shortly after you killed him.
Which brings me to the biggest problem….sadly while the movie looks great the game does not, with poor looking textures, screen tear & things popping up out of nowhere (especially annoying when it is an enemy) it can be a chore on the eyes especially the levels that are outside on ant island. Telling the difference between certain things is hard work!
This all made so much harder by the uncontrollable camera that swings about as if it is drunk. I mean you have partial control up to the point where you actually want to see something then it decides you don’t get a say in it. The amount of times I had Flik stuck in a corner because of this camera….
It controls ok except for the lack of camera control & sometimes it can feel a bit sluggish, as if Flik is an engine starting up & trying to accelerate. Aiming can be a bit pants as well, you will miss plenty of times.
Thing is the puzzle elements of the game, collecting seed upgrades to allow to change what kind of plants you can use is really clever. I mean you start of with a basic mushroom & by the end have 4 leaved bean-stalk-see plants for reaching awkward places as well as fan seeds & all different types of berry weapons. It’s well done & if you wish to get all collectibles you will have to learn all the varieties & what they do.
To get everything in a level can see you spending a fair amount of time in one place which brings me to my final piece of criticism…the recorded voices. Now I already said above that the quality isn’t the issue, no, the issue is the lack of lines used. Flik will say the same line 100 times in a level, it’s like he doesn’t understand what silence means…shut up you stupid ant!
If I have to hear anther dumb comment about collecting grain….
The game is pretty good value for money with 15 levels for you sink your teeth into.
So in conclusion A Bug’s Life isn’t as bad as some places will have you think, sure it looks terrible & can be sluggish but it’s got some clever ideas & you cant help but wonder what could have been had some time been taken. The thing is as I said at the start….soft spot here!
A Bug's Life