Review by Dave Giarrusso






Overall: 7

Anteater had its fifteen minutes of fame on the old Starcade television show hosted by ultra-smarmy emcee, Geoff Edwards. One episode involved a team of brothers who promptly picked Anteater after the other team buzzed in too soon on a question about Crystal Castles. In one of the unintentionally funniest moments in television history, the over-stimulated, goofy older brother loudly proclaimed, “Yeah, awRIGHT!! We wanna play ANTeater.” Even more perplexing was the fact that the goofy kid that simply couldn’t shout “Anteater” fast enough then handed the business of actually playing the game over to his somewhat less goofy younger brother.

Anteater offers gamers the rare chance to step into the role of an anteater perched atop an anthill. Using the joystick, the player guides the anteater’s tongue down through the anthill (maze) in search of tasty treats. Ant larvae (dots), ants (white and red), worms (blue), centipedes (green, appear on the third level – oddly enough, the attract mode doesn’t mention the centipedes), queen ants (Starcade incorrectly called the queen ants “bees” – fortunately, Starcade’s crack research team has been unemployed for years now) and spiders round out the menu. A “retract” button quickly reverses the tongue’s progress.

The anteater can only snarf up bugs with the TIP of his tongue. Death (falling down, much like Coleco’s Smurf and Cabbage Patch Kids games) warms over our hero if the ants or centipedes run into any other portion of his tongue. Centipedes and red ants are a bit smarter than the white ants and can change direction - the white ants cannot. Worms can pass safely through anteater’s tongue, but the anteater can only capture them from behind. The game’s sun is setting quickly, and once it disappears behind the horizon line, an evil spider creeps into the anthill under the cover of darkness. If the spider crosses any part of the Anteater’s tongue EXCEPT for the tip, the big guy’s okay, but once the spider reaches the tip, bye-bye anteater. Anteater’s only recourse against the spider is to slurp up one of two queen ants at the very bottom of the anthill. As in real life, wipe out the queen and you’ll wipe out all the bugs on the screen. Eating all the larvae in a maze brings on a new, more difficult round.

Anteater uses a tiered bonus point system that rewards players who can nab the most worms. The equation is: (#ants)x(#worms)x10=total bonus points per life. Thus, nabbing only ten ants with seven worms nets seven hundred points, while slurping thirty ants but no worms adds on zero bonus points. Bottom line? Eat more worms!

Like the Starcade-Brothers who chose to play it, Anteater is a goofy, but lovable game. Like Stern’s other maze gem Amidar, it’s a fun take on the maze-game theme. Like CBS’ Mountain King game, Anteater even includes a portion of Grieg’s fantastic “In the Hall of the Mountain King” as mood music. The next time some smug game show host asks you which game you’d like to play, and the lineup includes Anteater, simply say: “Yeah, awRIGHT!! We wanna play ANTeater.” Remember, it’s all in the delivery.

TIP: Clear the board except for a few ant larvae near the top of the anthill, then go hunting for worms!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:15 PM