Sim Ant
Box Shot
Sim Ant
Platform: Super Nintendo
Publisher: Maxis
Designer: Maxis
Genre: Simulation
Players: 1
Published Date 1993
Reviewed by: Rupto-pack

Though I've never really been into sim games, I picked up Sim Ant by Maxis because I liked the idea of playing an insect in an insect's world. Man oh man did I get hooked. Oddly enough, this game delivered the same kind of heart-pounding intensity as any action oriented shooter I've played. There's a real thrill and risk in recruiting your entire black colony and marching on the red ants' nest, intent on raiding their tunnels and destroying their queen. It's as close to experiencing the world through an ant's eyes as we're likely to see. At the main menu there's even an "Ant Information" option where you can learn about different species and their behaviors, like how they can feed each other by regurgitating into another's mouth ("Don't try this at home!")

The game itself is played in two modes, Scenario and Full Game. The Scenario Mode is essentially eight practice rounds of increasing difficulty, in which your Black Queen and a Red Queen are placed in the same area and must compete for resources until one colony is strong enough to conquer the other. There's a sandbox, a garden, a roadside, and a riverside, among other environments. You control the yellow ant, or the "sentient ant" as I like to think of him...or actually her, since the Ant Information explains that almost all ants in a colony are female. Much of the time is spent toggling between the "surface overview" in which you can see the entire area and where the food is (small green pellets,) where the evil spiders are, or where the black and red pheromone trails lead to, and the "surface closeup," where you move the yellow ant around and pick up food or rocks and can recruit 5, 10, or all of your colony. Recruiting a mass of drones is useful when you find more food than you can carry yourself, when you want to attack a spider or caterpillar and turn it into a pile of food, or when you finally decide to claim the red ants' territory. It may sound easy, but don't forget cats and people and car tires will squish you, spiders and ant lions will eat you, and there are many encounters with red scouts while foraging for food. The yellow ant only gets three lives in Scenario Mode, so be cautious and let your drones take the risks.

All the skills and strategies you'll acquire are put to use in Full Game Mode, where you have an entire house and yard divided into sections. The object is to compete with the red ants for ownership of each section, eventually overtaking the house and driving out the humans. This is where you'll need to hatch breeder ants which can fly off to start new colonies in nearby sections. Watch out for the family dog, and the particularly nasty lawnmower.

The graphics are okay at best, blocky and pixellated at worst (as in the surface overview,) but they get the job done and there's never any confusion as to what's what. The happy music can become annoying quickly, but thankfully there's an option to turn it off. Gameplay can become terribly slow as colony populations grow to two or three hundred apiece and the CPU struggles to keep up with everything that's going on. The yellow ant seems easily confused at times, occasionally picking something up or putting it down when you don't want her to, and this can be bothersome when you're being chased by a spider or red soldier. The game is compatible with the SNES Mouse, so movement is controlled by an onscreen hand that tells the yellow ant where to go. Without the mouse, the control pad works just fine.

I can easily forgive the game's few shortcomings as I keep going back to it again and again, sometimes just to set up a new colony and let it go by itself, to see which queen gets the better of the other. It's definitely a worthwhile buy if you're into sim games, war/strategy games, or just bugs. You'll see ants in a whole new light once you've spent some time as one of them.