Like many movie tie-ins, the video game rendition of The Ant Bully is a far cry from the feature film that it's based on. This 3D adventure game tries to expand on the movie by putting players through a sequence of missions that delve into what Lucas, the insect-sized boy, went through off camera to learn the ants' ways, but it mostly succeeds at showing why events such as these weren't portrayed in the movie in the first place. Nearly every mission involves fetching items or fighting the same enemies over and over again. Moreover, the noninteractive scenes that accompany each mission spend more time preaching the story's morals than they do developing the characters or building toward an exciting conclusion.
Most missions involve fighting the same badly rendered pill bugs, spiders, and wasps over and over again.
Regarding the story, the game and the movie take place in the same time period. Both center around the exploits of a young boy named Lucas, who is reduced to miniscule proportions by a magic potion. The movie follows Lucas's story from a social perspective, giving the viewer insight into the ants' hierarchy as he works his way up from slaving in the mines to fighting alongside the soldiers to stop various predators. At various points in the movie, we see Lucas use the ants' tools and abilities to outwit his opponents and save the day. The game, meanwhile, takes a hands-on approach to telling Lucas' story. It shows how Lucas acquired those tools and learned all of those tricks. Apparently, the process involved completing 20-odd missions tasked to him by the various leaders of the colony, because those missions are what you have to do in this game.
The play mechanics and controls are about what you'd expect from any game like this. The basic idea here is that you need to explore the environment, find the items you're looking for, and pummel any enemies that cross your path. For exploration's sake, Lucas can run and roll, and he can perform a number of contextual abilities when he's close to specific objects and spots in the environment. When you run off a ledge, Lucas will jump automatically. When you're next to a marked wall, a small rock, or a rose petal, you can push the action button, and Lucas will climb the wall, hoist the rock, or use the rose petal like a glider. In some spots, he can call together nearby ants to form useful structures, such as bridges, catapults, or battering rams. To deal with enemies, you can make use of any of Lucas's four weapons. The wooden stick can be used to attack enemies up close, while sticky silk shooters, dart guns, and bombs let you deal with enemies at a distance.
Various flaws become apparent once you get into the habit of fighting multiple enemies. The controls are sometimes slow to respond and the lock-on isn't always reliable, which can make it easy to miss shots and waste ammo. The hit detection is unpredictable, to the point that Lucas's attacks will sometimes pass through an enemy, or an enemy's attack will pass through Lucas, without doling out damage. This is nice when you're the beneficiary but not so nice when you're sandwiched between two ferocious purple spiders. Also, for some bizarre reason, Lucas doesn't jump as high in the PC version of the game, so you really have to line up your leaps in that version. These flaws are unfortunate, but they're not too troublesome, since much of the time you'll have lobbed a seed bomb into a crowd of spiders long before you get up close and personal with them.