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Video Game / A Bug's Life

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A Bug's Life is the 3D Platform Game adaptation of the Pixar film of the same name, released in 1998 on the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and PC. It was developed by Traveller's Tales, making it their second Pixar-based Licensed Game after Toy Story.

The game follows the movie's storyline with Flik as the player character, featuring fifteen levels with every third being a boss stage. The central gimmick is growing plants; Flik can carry and plant large seeds to produce various plants that help him progress, and he can collect tokens that grant him new colors to turn seeds into and new plants to produce from each seed color. Each level has a main goal to reach (most of them being to reach an exit, though some require collecting items or finding characters) as well as three Success Tokens that can be collected through completing other tasks.

Traveller's Tales would later develop Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!, another Pixar 3D platformer that shares some traits with A Bug's Life but is otherwise a more traditional collectathon.


Tropes featured in the game:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the final level, Hopper attacks by throwing water droplets at Flik.
  • Absentee Actor: Downplayed with P.T. Flea, who appears in the movie clips but never shows up in gameplay unlike all the other named characters.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Hopper chases after Atta and Flik in "Atta Flight", hurting them if they move too slowly through the riverbed.
  • Annoying Video Game Helper: Invoked with the ants in "Lead the Revolt". They try to help Flik by throwing him red berry pickups... which is a bad thing, because Molt only takes damage from blue berries and above. If Flik touches a red berry that the ants throw to him, then he's left with a useless weapon until he grabs a stronger berry pickup.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Flik's Harvester appears in several levels, and while operating it, he's invincible to enemy attacks, magnetizes grain towards him, and permanently kills any enemy that he hits with the blades. However, Flik moves very slowly while using it and can't jump without dropping it, and most enemies aren't affected by its blades. Since the Harvester is never required to finish a level, it's best to ignore it and use gold berries to kill the enemies instead.
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  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: All of the enemies besides the bird are insects, though they only appear large because Flik is also an insect.
  • Bonus Level: There are three secret levels that take place in the circus bugs' tent, all sharing the same layout but containing different items and a different goal. To access them, Flik needs to perform a hidden action five times in a row (such as bouncing on five different mushrooms) that will warp him from the current stage to the bonus level. Collecting the exclamation point in each one unlocks a movie clip.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The various plants are coded by seed color: brown seeds grow plants that give Flik an aerial boost, green seeds create progressive taller leaf platforms, blue seeds produce buds that spit out pickups, purple seeds spawn berry pickups, and yellow seeds grow into attack plants.
    • The berries are colored by strength: red berries are weak, blue ones are stronger and produce smoke, green berries home in on enemies, purple berries have homing and are even stronger, and gold berries don't home in but prevent enemies from respawning after death.
  • Cowardly Boss:
    • Thud flies from one side of the rolling tin can to the other every time he takes damage, dropping several pieces of grain and a healing leaf each time.
    • Hopper flees when he's hit with a berry in the final level, eventually causing him to knock over barricades that block off parts of the level. The goal is to corner him at the top of the cliffside where the bird's nest is, as the remainder of his health can be drained from there.
  • Edible Ammunition: Flik can throw berries to hurt enemies, with the color of the berry determining its strength and properties.
  • Game-Over Man: A repurposed clip from the film featuring Hopper (the "You think this is a game?" scene) is played after you lose your last life, before the game over screen appears and the game resets. It works very well because Hopper is staring right at the camera in said scene.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: Gold berries are the strongest projectiles in the game and the only kind that can kill enemies permanently.
  • The Goomba: Spiders are the first and weakest enemy in the game, only hurting Flik if they touch him and dying in one hit from a jump or berry throw.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There are 48 Success Tokens spread across the fifteen levels plus the tutorial, and collecting them all requires collecting smaller items as well.
  • Ground Pound: Pressing the jump button while Flik is in midair makes him perform a butt-stomp, killing any enemies he lands near. It also slightly stalls his decent, which can be exploited for long jumps. The wasps can also butt-stomp Flik if they get above him (i.e. sting him).
  • Guide Dang It!: The game never hints at the existence of the secret bonus levels, with the only indication that they exist being the exclamation points produced when you do the actions related to their unlock conditions. The unlock methods (bouncing on five mushrooms in a row, killing five enemies by squashing them flat without missing, and killing five grasshoppers in a row without missing any berry throws) are hard to do on accident and can only be done in a few select levels each.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The base-level plant of the blue seed spits out shiny nectar that briefly turns Flink invincible. It's mostly situational, but it comes in handy for crossing the toxic puddles in "Little Ant, Big City".
  • King Mook: Thumper and Molt share the same movement behavior as the grasshopper enemies (patrolling a small area and charging at Flik if he enters that area) while having much larger health bars. Hopper averts this by being the only grasshopper than can fly and throw water projectiles.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: All grasshoppers, including bosses, are immune to red berries, requiring Flik to grab a stronger type of berry to hurt them. Some other enemies also resist red berries, but usually can be killed with a ground pound.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": The final plant upgrade for the yellow seed produces a land mine flower, which explodes when an enemy goes near it or when it's thrown. It can only be grown in "Grasshoppers Leave" (and the third bonus level), but it's the only way to permanently defeat enemies for the Enemy Token since the level contains no gold berry pickups.
  • Last Lousy Point: Collecting all three tokens in a level unlocks a bonus movie clip, and 100% Completion unlocks one more movie clip as an award... so why are there still three locked spaces in the clips menu after collecting everything? They're locked behind the three circus bonus levels, which can be accessed by performing specific actions within other levels.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The game's Game Over sequence has some fun with changing one of Hopper's scenes into a jab at the player, rather than the ants as it was in the film:
    Hopper: "Have you been playing all summer? You think this is a game? Well, guess what? You just lost!"
  • Macro Zone: The entire game takes place in one, since it's from an ant's perspective.
  • Missing Secret: Each seed color has four different plants that it can grow into... except for the yellow seed, which only has three. None of the levels in the game contain enough yellow seed tokens to upgrade it another time, and the Bonus Level that features every plant proves that there are only three yellow seed plants.
  • Poison Mushroom: Berry pickups are not sequenced, so a stronger one can be replaced by a weaker one if you collect it. The boss fights against Thud and Molt exploit this by throwing out low-tier berry pickups as an obstacle.
  • Power-Up Magnet: While Flik is moving a Harvester, any nearby grain flies towards him.
  • Remixed Level: One of the last stages of the game is "Grasshoppers Leave" (outright called "Anthill, Part 2" on the level select menu), which takes the first non-tutorial level of the game, "Welcome to Ant Island", and overhauls it; most of the enemies have been replaced by grasshoppers (which need to be killed with yellow seed plants, since the game doesn't give you any berry upgrades), all the collectibles are found in different places, and the level goal is changed from entering the anthill to finding a way to attack Hopper and make him drop Atta. It's also pouring rain as opposed to being sunny, though this only affects the visuals.
  • Respawning Enemies: All enemies will respawn indefinitely after they're killed, but there are three ways to prevent them from returning: hitting them with gold berries, chopping them up with the Harvester, or blowing them up with the mine plants produced by a max-level yellow seed. Defeating all the enemies in a level through these methods awards you with the Enemy Token for the level.
  • Spelling Bonus: Each level contains collectibles of the letters F, L, I, and K. Collecting all four letters gives you the FLIK Token for that level and an extra life (the only way to gain extra lives in the game).
  • Springy Spores: The base level of the brown seed produces a mushroom that works as a bouncy platform, though the boost it gives is very small.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: In "Atta Flight", you control Atta as she carries Flik through the riverbed while fleeing from Hopper changing the game into an auto-runner; Atta moves forward automatically and can fly by holding the jump button, while Flik can still throw berries as normal. This is one of two levels in the game that doesn't allow you to grab and plant seeds (the other, "Horsefly Mayhem", plays like normal and just doesn't contain any seeds to use).
  • Warm-Up Boss: Thumper is the first boss of the game, and he mostly sticks to the center of the level so you can ignore him and grab stronger berries, which can be spammed to defeat him in seconds. Every other boss either incorporates more platforming or has better means of hurting flik.

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