Another simulator by Maxis. This was perhaps my second favorite (after the classic, SimCity). The basic idea was to start a colony of black ants in a SimBackyard, and eventually take it over, driving both the enemy red ants and the sims away.

The world consisted of a large backyard and a randomly generated house, divided into plots. When you were in "ant" mode, you could direct the ant's movements by becoming the yellow ant (which was actually white on my Macintosh Classic), then directing that ant around to find food and enemies. Once you found your target, you would call your comrades (in increments, like "call 5 ants" or "call 50 soldiers", if I remember correctly). Once you had established a colony (you could become the queen to step up egg production, become a worker to lead foraging expeditions, or lead a war party with a soldier), you would create mating pairs (a group of young queens & drones with wings), who could populate neighboring plots.

War was very interesting; you would send a queen into a lightly populated enemy territory at first, building up the colony, then attacking with soldiers. If successful, you could carry off the enemy's larvae for food. If unsuccessful, you would attempt to build up another plot and try again.

Control of the colony was done by adjusting behavior (between nesting (creating more baby ants), foraging, and soldiering) and egg production (between workers, soldiers, and queens & drones).

The best part of this game was the fact that it taught me a lot about ant behavior. You had to wait a while before crushing the red ants, because mature ant colonies produce stronger ants than young colonies; that a good colony behaves like a single organism rather than individuals. When left on its own, the simulator would expand your holdings in the yard based on normal ant behavior.

As is obvious, I was a bit obsessed with this game for a chunk of my childhood. I still bend down to look at colonies and remember stuff I learned from the manual to this game. Excellent toy.

One of the interesting things about SimAnt was that it was really one of the first RTS games. It had a lot of elements in it that were seen in later games like warcraft II and starcraft and TA. Basically you spent most of the time 'mining' a resource (food) and attacking the enemy's base (anthill) as well as dealing with the humans and colonizing new areas. Obviously the strategy was much less advanced back then, there were just the few types of ants and you could only control one at a time. But i think it would be cool to create a new version of this game which was more advanced, gave you more control, etc.. it would be neat.

Connecting to the red ant colony via underground burrows was a viable option in the IBM version of the game. It was a quite useful strategy. However, it did pose its own dangers as sometimes the queen would wander to the bottom of the colony. These areas are susceptable to flooding and the queen would sometimes end up drowning. Once a queen was gone there was no way of creating a new one (except for leaving the colony and returning later, the game created a new queen for some reason.)

An excellent option using the bottom hole was to run through with a soldier ant and fight the queen. eventually, after many tries, you could usually kill the queen. Once the queen of the red colony died, you could use the spider to eat their ants, no new ones would be produced.

there were other ways of subtly 'cheating'. If the red ant colony was in its beginning stage you could stick a rock over their hole. Its impossible to remove the rock from below. They would eventually build new holes but you could usually clog them all and starve the ants off. Also, you could seal your own colony off and keep it alive. All you had to do was send the yellow ant out to get food. If the yellow ant was 'hungry' it would eat food instead of picking it up. And since the game treated the ants as one communal organism, feeding one ant gave the whole colony food. Therefore, you could keep the other ants underground, and tell them to concentrate only on tending eggs. The yellow ant could do all the eating.

also, on the version I had, there was a little unmarked button on the toolbar - the 'mystery' button. You could press this and all kinds of random stuff would happen... sometimes the spider would start shooting lazers, sometimes all the red ants would die, soemtimes all the black ants would die, sometimes the queens would die, etc, etc. If the odds were strongly against you, you could go 'scorched earth' untill most of the ants were dead, then start over again.

SimAnt had an oft overlooked secret. If you burrowed down as far as you could go in your home nest (which took a good number of minutes,) through the darker earth and into clay, and finally off the last screen, you would suddenly find yourself at the bottom of a random enemy's nest! With this trick, war could be waged on two fronts, top down and bottom up.

I have only verified this on the Amiga version, however. (qousqous reports this also works on the Mac version.)

Yet another secret: You can become the spider. Just click the button as if you were going to change your ant, and instead click on the spider's mandibles (the mouth bit).

Wah-ha! Now you can use your new mighty form to devour your enemies whole, or turn traitor and attack your own colony, rampaging with an orgy of psychological terror and--er, ahem. Just don't go off the screen or let the ants swarm you, or you'll die.

Then again, sacrificing yourself for the colony as food is somewhat noble...
Hate to say "me too" but...

One of the coolest features of SimAnt is silly mode. Little speech bubbles appear above the different characters. What the ants are saying depends somewhat on what the simulated critter is thinking. There is enough of a variety of phrases that they provide some constant mild amusement. Some examples: (paraphrased)

  • Queen: "I gave up flying for this?" (she just sits around laying eggs)
  • Ant: "Mmm... tasty vomit!" (ants eat the vomit of other ants... see? It's educational... kinda)
  • Egg: "I'm going to be a worker!"
  • Worker: "I love digging!"
  • Soldier: "Better dead than red!" (i.e. red ant)
  • Red ant: "Saxon pig!" (when fighting a black ant)
  • Spider: "Mmm, tasty ant guts!" (when eating an ant)
  • Spider: "Stop running, it makes it harder for me to catch you!" (when chasing down a hapless ant)
  • Spider: "I don't like ants this much!" (when running away from a mob of angry ants)
The spider in particular has a lot of fun things to say, and the queen has many complaints about her boring life.

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