SimAnt: The Electronic Any Colony is an ant simulation game by developed and published by Maxis and released on MS-DOS in 1991, and later ported to various other platforms. It is the third game in the Sim series. You play as ants in a colony trying to expand the size of your colony across a yard and into a house. The game also comes with an experimental mode and a thick manual with encyclopedic information about ants. Like a lot of the early Sim games, it's more of a toy than a game.
I got SimAnt, not just because I really liked Sim games, but also because I always thought ants were really interesting. I found out they're even more interesting from this game, especially from the fantastic manual.
I own this game for DOS and have beaten both the game's quick and full game modes.
Best Version: DOS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game nicely embodies the Sim mentality allowing for lots of experimentation. You can dig your own ant tunnels, lay your own chemical trails, pit ants against each other, etc.
- It was nice that the designers actually included a campaign-style game with a victory condition. And the plot, trying to infest an entire yard and house, is very thematic.
- The game has a lot of details that teach you about ants like the ability to modify their birthing caste, sharing food, chemical trails, etc.
- The addition of the house setting, with new graphics and hazards, was icing on the cake.
- The various hazards, rain, lawn mower, spider, ant lion, kitchen, etc. make the game very life-like.
- The graphics are actually quite nice for a PC game of the day, the designers wisely chose to modify the EGA palette, a rare occurrence in this time.
- The in-game tutorial is very helpful.
- The manual is amazing and features, not just details about the game, but a miniature encyclopedia of ant species all over the world.
- The option for silly dialogue boxes is a hilarious addition to the game.
- The ability to take control of the spider is a neat idea, although, it seems unfair in the full game.
- The game has a pretty impressive windowed interface for a 1991 DOS game.
- Over all, there just isn't that much to do in the game. After a single play-through of the full game, and an hour in experiment mode, you've done everything the game has to offer.
- The path finding is pretty bad, especially in the nest. The yellow ant often freaks out when he can't get to where you click.
- During a full game, the location of the ants in other areas of the map aren't actually tracked, just approximated. I understand why they had to do this on old computers, but the approximation isn't very good. A new colony, after only a little while of game play, can jump to 200 ants when you're not in it. However, if you stay in the map and actively help it blossom, you won't be able to reach that count in the same amount of time. This actually makes it a better strategy to avoid playing as an ant as much as possible.
- The AI does a fair bit of cheating. Even if you wall-off the red ants from having access to food, their colony will continue to grow.
- Although you get to dig your own nest, the AI ants don't utilize it effectively. They drop food and eggs randomly around, making it very difficult to make a strategic layout. You basically have to turn off digging, dig the nest yourself, then sit in the nest all day and move stuff into proper locations if you want a good layout. I would have preferred a way for you to direct other ants to keep eggs in one section, food in another, guard and area, etc.
- Even though most of the game takes place in a backyard lawn, there is very little grass drawn in the game's graphics. This was probably decided because too many obstacles would make movement frustrating, but this means you're looking at a dull brown screen most of the time.
- For some reason, in experiment mode, you can't remove walls once they're built, which makes them problematic to use.
- The graphic driver in the DOS port is pretty weak. Screen refreshing is slow and the mouse cursor flickers a lot, which is distracting.
- The full game is really easy, and can be beaten in a about a half hour with only a rudimentary understanding of the game, and, when you know what you're doing, it only takes about 5 minutes. A difficulty setting would really help the game since it's so easy. To give you an idea of how easy it is to win, I played a game where I purposely killed my yellow ant over and over again for several minutes to try and keep my colony as weak as possible, but it still grew faster than the red's. If you didn't have to send out your own new queens, you could just let the game run on its own and you would win.
There were two main art styles for SimAnt, the original and the re-released Classics version. While I like both, I prefer the original, which is the one I own.
- vgmpf.com/Wiki/index.php/SimAnt_(W16) - Windows Music.