Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The game is essentially a simulation of an ant colony. The game consists of three modes: a Quick Game, a Full Game, and an Experimental Game. It was released for the IBM PC, Commodore Amiga, Apple Macintosh, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The latter version also added eight scenarios, where the goal in each is to eliminate the enemy red ants in various locales, each with different hazards. However, this version of the game lacks the Experimental Game.
In the game, the player plays the role of an ant in a colony of black ants in the garden of a suburban home. The player can change which ant they are (known as the "yellow ant", as it's colored at any time), and the ant controlled by them can order the other ants (by ordering a certain number to follow it, for instance). The player must battle against the red ants. The ultimate aim of the game is to spread throughout the garden, into the house, and finally to drive the human beings out of the house. In this respect, it differed from other 'Sim' games, which largely had no "win" or "lose" situation.
In the Quick Game, the player establishes a black ant colony in a small patch of yard, shown on an overhead view . While the player establishes the black ant colony, the computer establishes a competing red ant colony elsewhere in the yard. Underground ant colonies are depicted in a side view. The player has direct control of a single ant at a time, indicated by a yellow color, and may switch control to a different ant at any time. The player's yellow ant may influence the behavior of other black ants by leaving pheromone trails to destinations such as food and enemy ant colonies.
The player's yellow ant may pick up food and rocks, regurgitate food for friendly ants, and attack enemy ants, spiders, caterpillars, and antlions. Natural hazards include human footsteps, spiders, antlions, lawnmowers, and rain, which washes away pheromone trails and can flood the bottom of ant nests.
In the Full Game, the player begins with an ant colony in an overhead view, much like the Quick Game. The region of this overhead view is a single square of a map containing a yard and house, and the player wins by colonizing the entire map. The player spreads to other areas by producing young queens and drones to mate with each other.
The Experimental Game is similar to the Quick Game, except the player can also control red ants and has access to a set of experimental tools. These tools allow the player to place pheremone trails, rocks, ants, and food.
The boxed game also comes with a thoroughly researched instruction manual, which not only covers game mechanics, but also contains a large amount of information regarding ants and ant societies.
This game never achieved much popularity (except on a small-scale cult level, as in cult films), although it was re-released by Maxis as part of the SimClassics suite. However, is considered by many of its players to have been one of the most unique of Will Wright's games.
See also: Empire of the Ants
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