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The Ant Bully
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action game based on the movie of the same name has lots of fighting, but the violence is cartoonish. Players will smash, shoot, and bomb various insects, other small animals, and -- in one case -- a human as they battle to protect an ant colony. Although players dispatch scores of spiders, pillbugs, and the like, the game's story traces the growing empathy the human protagonist feels for the ants as he learns to walk a few yards in their, er, shoes.
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What's it about?
THE ANT BULLY follows the movie pretty closely. Players control Lucas Nickle, a young boy known to the ants that live in his yard as The Destroyer for the abuse he has subjected the colony to. When the ants shrink Lucas down to their size, he must make amends by learning the ways of the colony and protecting the ants from danger.
Lucas mainly protects the ants with a staff that he uses to bash insects and other pint-size pests. As Lucas earns the respect of the colony, they assist him by creating guns and bombs that help him on his missions. Over more than a dozen missions, the action plays out as a typical third-person fighting game that's occasionally broken up with special tasks like a race or manning gun turrets. As players explore this surreal world, they gain ant powers like crawling up walls or using telepathy to call members of the colony to help build bridges.
Is it any good?
Although the action can get intense, the violence is never very graphic. The spiders, mosquitoes, and earwigs disappear in a puff when they're vanquished. And Lucas' fights have a purpose: He eventually learns to respect the ants as he becomes a team player.
A lot of the fun comes from navigating the world from an ant's point of view: Bookcases become mountain ranges, and broken shards of glass in the yard turn sun rays into burning laser beams. Yet the missions in Ant Bully aren't very challenging, and most players will scurry through them in around five to six hours. The length can be extended if players try to acquire all the collectibles scattered around the game world, but the game offers little incentive for replay. Ant Bully also suffers from an occasionally weak presentation: Some plot points are never explained, the camera can be unwieldy, and the action can continue while players are stuck watching a cut scene, even as Lucas takes damage.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's messages on the importance of accepting others and learning to work as a team. Are movies and games effective in teaching messages like this? Families may also wish to discuss the violence in the game. Why do you think the ants were good guys but other insects were bad?
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