I gave Strikey Sisters some crap for being a spiritual successor to the many rip-off games that plagued the arcade classics. Perhaps it is curious then for me to play Ardy the Aardvark instead of the arcade OG Anteater. In my defense: aardvarks are the more amusing animal to me.
The objective of Ardy is to eat tasty ants. You play as an Aardvark standing atop a hill and each round of the game semi-randomly generates a maze below the surface.
You control Ardy’s tongue and steer it down into the nest below where you lick up ants to score all-important points. However, your big fleshy tongue is a weak point as well as a weapon. Ants that touch any part of your tongue besides the tip will nibble away at it, costing you one of your lives. Similarly, spiders will try to attack you if they encounter your tongue and worms will cause damage if you try eating them from the front, requiring you to circle around and grab them from the back.
A fair bit of strategy goes into this and the randomized nature of the levels is certainly a boon for replayability. You are constantly figuring out the most secure routes to ants and can press a button to rapidly retract your vulnerable tongue. Even that might not be enough if an ant comes from one of the corners on the top row while you were licking up his brethren at the very bottom.
How many risks are you willing to take for that top score?
An issue I do have is that spiders and worms don’t appear to be properly implemented. You can’t retract your tongue into your body, so if they decide to wander around the top lane, you have no defense there. Worms you can lick up from behind in a pinch, but the spiders will get you and I couldn’t find a way to avoid them. They are supposed to crawl down your tongue towards the tip, giving you time to reach one of the screen-clearing power-ups at the bottom to save your hide. On my version of the game (Apple II) they just do damage instantly when they touch any part of the tongue, which is unworkable.