You know the drill: games based on movies tend to bite. The thinking here seems to be that younger children don't yet possess fully functioning crap filters, and are therefore more likely to squeeze some fun out of a game that adults would tire of within minutes.
The mean-spirited brat of a main character is shrunk to insect size and given a simplistic lesson in how ecosystems work by gathering pupae, bits of sugary breakfast cereal, crystals, parts of weapons, and so forth, beating up the opportunistic predators that threaten the colony and its food supply. Playing on such a diminutive scale allows for some inventive moments: glide through the air with a bit of vegetation, pilot a wasp, or call on your buddies to build a living bridge or ladder. As you learn the ways of the ant, you'll even take on some of their attributes, like great strength, wall-climbing, and telepathic teamwork.
As interesting as the possibilities might sound, though, The Ant Bully's missions never take more than the most rudimentary advantage of them. Seldom are you in for anything more interesting than gathering and delivering a series of parcels, or whacking uninteresting garden beasties around with a stick. There are some cunning attempts at injecting replayability - learn a new skill and you can get to previously inaccessible goodies - but the dull base gameplay is enough to dissuade all but the most dedicated collectors from bothering.
Worse, though the developers take steps to make playing more intuitive for a younger audience: Walk off a ledge, and you're supposed to automatically jump. Hold down a trigger to lock on a target for your assaults. Unfortunately, these features, along with the spotty collision detection, are inconsistent at best, which gets more than a little annoying, and kills the sense of control that's critical to immersion. It's hard to imagine any kid having the patience to contend with sporadic control issues on top of micromanaging the camera for the sake of Dreamcast-era visuals. Don't think about saving a few bucks by saddling your tyke with the Starforce-protected PC version either: Inexplicably, our young hero won't jump as high as his console cousins.
The story might expand on the movie's offering a bit, but the limp dialogue - heck, you'll sometimes hear the same tired ambient line three times in a row - varies in volume so wildly you have to practically turn the music off just to be sure of hearing it. This doesn't go a long way to giving the impression that the game wasn't rushed out the door to coincide with the film's release.
The Ant Bully isn't wholly shameless about setting the bar low, and kids are bound to get at least a little joy from its small world, but this colony is just too repetitive and dull to be fun for long.