Friday, May 5, 2017

Netto's Beginnings: First Simulation Game

As a kid, I really liked going to see my aunt and cousins out of state. I mentioned this in my previous "Netto's Beginnings" posts, but they were the ones who always seemed to have some sort of new and exciting game for me to try out. Blockbuster video was actually pretty close to them, and because of that they would often go out and rent a game to play with me whenever we would come for a visit. Of course I liked seeing them also, but getting to play a new game was always a fun bonus. This is how I actually played my first simulation game as well. Sim Ant.

Although I also played Sim City and The Sims over at their house for the first time, the game that I actually sat down to play before any of them was the lesser known Sim Ant. In Sim Ant, you got to take on the role as a little Ant, and try to work to expand your colony. Most of the game takes place with a top down view where you click where you want your ant to move to, but when digging underground in the ant hill everything switches to a 2D view.

The goal of the SNES version of the game is to actually make it through the full story mode. When you first begin you start as a queen ant digging an ant hill and laying her first egg (you). Once you've ate away as much dirt as you think is needed (doesn't really matter honestly), you give birth to yourself, and then set out on your ant adventure. To keep the colony alive you must go out and find food, and feed yourself as well. The queen will keep doing her thing, laying eggs, and eventually you'll have a full army of ants at your disposal. By sending out cries for help, you can call other ants to your side to attack other bugs for food, and you can use them to defend yourself against spiders as well. Of course if you die you just switch over to one of the living ants so it doesn't really matter, but if your colony fully dies from hunger or what not, then it's game over. In order to advance through the game you have to kill the rival ant colony in the area, and afterwards you get to move onto a new part of the yard, and even the house. With the story mode in the SNES release I was playing, seasons eventually started to change as well, and you were tasked with surviving in different conditions. In the house you had to worry about things stepping on you, and outside you had other hazards like the owners cutting the grass. While you couldn't do much to actually avoid these things, it helped add to the feeling of being an ant -- a poor helpless ant.

Maybe Sim Ant wasn't the best game in the world, but it is one I had a lot of fun playing. I can still remember the time me and my cousin broke into the red ant hill and stole their baby, only to watch it transform into a black ant when we brought it back, and I still remember just how much the spider freaked me out as well (that... sucking sound.... and death image....). The game left a lasting impression on me, and many years later my cousin eventually bought the PC version for me off of Amazon (funny enough, that was the first time I ever used the site -- my main source of buying games now days). While the PC version lacked the SNES story mode, I still had fun playing it. It had cheat codes that let me not worry about energy or dying ("JENN" if I recall), and I was able to fully take over the yard and house at my own pace. I spent a lot of time playing this version on my own, but sadly lost it when I switched over to my previous PC. Although I really have no intentions of going back to it, it was still a part of my childhood that I loved, and the game will always be special because of that.