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Gamer Tuesday

August 28, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: A Bug's Life

Developed by: Traveller's Tales

Systems: PlayStation, Nintendo 64

On my first visit to Walt Disney World in July, the very first park I visited was Disney's Animal Kingdom. In there I made my own personal Disney history by making It's Tough to be a Bug the very first Disney attraction I ever experienced. In honor of that great first timer memory, I will be highlighting A Bug's Life: The Video Game for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.

A Bug's Life, the film, was released in 1998 and was the second film Pixar made after the groundbreaking success of Toy Story in 1995. Luckily for the animation studio, the film not only received a big push from Disney, it was widely accepted by film critics and audiences alike. In the wake of its release, A Bug's Life has received countless pieces of merchandise and representation across the Disney universe, such as whole themed land at Disney's California Adventure, the aforementioned attraction at Animal Kingdom, and the subject of this article, the video game.

A Bug's Life was first released on the PlayStation around the same time as the movie. In terms of gameplay, A Bug's Life is a standard 3D platformer. Playing as Flik, you complete missions within various levels, all based on key segments from the movie, such as collecting food for the grasshoppers, finding the warrior bugs, and many more. In order to defend yourself from enemies, you can collect different berries. You will also be collecting letters that spell the word 'FLIK' and seed grains, presenting a proud tradition of classic platformers of the 80s and 90s. Finally, you would encounter bosses based on some of the biggest confrontations in the movie, including the infamous bird and Hopper himself.

The Nintendo 64 version was released a year later, around the same time as the VHS and DVD release of the film. The two games were identical gameplay wise, but the PlayStation version of the game featured film clips that told the story in between levels and had higher quality sound. The Nintendo 64 version, in spite of FMV clips of the movie and CD quality sound, had better graphics and more polished gameplay.

Speaking of its technical capabilities, A Bug's Life looks pretty decent. Of course, it doesn't rival or surpass the beauty of the original film due to the systems and their technical prowess. But the familiar elements of the film, such as Ant Island and the characters themselves, are recognizable. The PlayStation version had a lower polygon count but was crisper and moved faster, whereas the Nintendo 64 version had better graphics, but moved slower.

Setting aside how the two compare technologically, how were they received? Very poorly, unfortunately. The PlayStation version received the worst reviews of the two versions, whlie the Nintendo 64 version received slightly better reviews. Yet, even with all of that, I enjoyed playing the game on my Nintendo 64 back in the day. Maybe it was the charm of the film making it more appealing, but I look at this game and it brings me back to the late 90s.

If you are feeling like me and want to play this game to relive both the movie and the game, it can be easily downloaded through Sony's PlayStation Store. You can buy the game for both the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3. Based on the footage I have seen it is a perfect emulation of the game, with all the film footage and other extras intact.

If I were to sum up the game as a whole, I would use this quote from It's Tough to be a Bug...

Well, it still has a few bugs in it, but that's our show

Yeah, A Bug's Life: The Game may be far from perfect, but it is worth trying out at least once. Disney Interactive Studios would release far superior Pixar based games later on (such as the recent Toy Story 3), so things did get better from there.


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