Ant Attack (1983)

Ant Attack is my favourite game that I’ve never played.
It’s for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, a system I have never seen in person.
It was developed by Sandy White in 1983, a recent art school graduate who studied sculpture and liked electronics, as well as his girlfriend Angela Sutherland, while living on government assistance in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It was written by hand, on paper, a process I don’t fully understand.
Like Q*bert, it was inspired by the art of M.C. Escher, and was one of the first isometric games on home computers.
Unlike other isometric games that were out, the player is able to rotate the viewpoint in 90 degree increments, which makes the city of Antescher the first non-vector 3D gameworld.

Ant Attack is a 3D platformer with a multi-objective level structure 13 years before Super Mario 64.
It’s Ico except the active/passive gender roles can be swapped by the player.
It’s Earth Defense Force as lo-fi B-movie indie survival horror.
It’s the minimalist palette of the Game Boy, but self-imposed.
It’s the spiritual building blocks of Populous, SimCity 2000, RollerCoaster Tycoon and Minecraft.

Unlike Heiankyo Alien, another student game, which influenced Pac-Man and Space Panic and therefore the entire platformer genre…
Ant Attack has directly influenced nothing other than its own pseudo-sequels, Zombie Zombie and I of the Mask, and nobody has tried to copy it since.

David is a writer from Southern Ontario, Canada