Available : November 18, 2002.




Treasure Planet: Battle At Procyon © Buena Vista
Previewed by Ala Shiban


Personal log of Ala Shiban, Gamer's Hell', reviewer; I'm previewing a game based on yet another Disney animated motion picture, wondering whether it would shine through the pile of games available in stores.

Disney has always been trying to reach the younger generation with wonderful movies such as Tarzan, Aladdin, Lilo and Stitch and so many other wonderful movies that I'm sure you probably seen or at least heard of.

Disney's attempt to reach the younger generation didn't stop at that. Disney has been putting out a lot of effort to come up with wonderful games for consoles and the PC in order to enrich the younger ones as well as us old-timers. I remember enjoying all their platformers when I was a kid, playing Aladdin, The Lion King, Duck Tales: Quest for the Gold and so many other classic oldies, but it didn't stop at nostalgia, not even close.

With the recent years Disney has been kicking out a lot of great titles, most of them successful, fun and beneficial for kids and even grownups, the games it introduced had lovely 3D graphics when a lot of other studios were rather skeptical about the technology, Disney did push some genre's forward, and it tries to do so again.

Treasure Planet does not fall short; I installed the game, loaded it with much confidence and high expectations, and found myself staring at nice artwork very much with the feel of Disney at heart. For a first impression I was quite satisfied, with clear and lush menus, can't go lost there...

Treasure Planet follows the story of Disney's latest movie, 15 year old Jim Hawkins gets to the laborious yet fun task of commanding his own little spacecraft, cruising around space to hunt down the luring treasure, hidden somewhere in space.

The story unfolds as Jim accidentally gets a hold of a treasure map, and without further ado, we all know what that means, TREASURE HUNT!

Graphics wise, Barking Dog made a great job creating such an engine, featuring vibrant colors, vast nebulae, lighting effects seen only on high-end games, very much suitable for a space game, while still being darkish and mystical, the Disney trail marks are certainly felt.

The engine sails away with planets scattered around space, much like Project Nomads. The planets function as supply depots so you could refill your ammunition and such; after all, space, pirates, sailing space boats and a 15 year old space-explorer wanna-be, very much completing the fantasy don't you think?

Interface wise, the minute you see it, the minute you love it, for all you The Sims enthusiastic fanatics, this one clearly learns from the multi-million selling title, yet adapting it to the strategy needs by implementing more direct commands without the need to get click more than once or twice.

One really nice feature I enjoyed from Barking Dog is path finding. No longer will the ship stop in the middle of space, turn around and continue, Nay I Say! A more realistic approach was taken, making the ship take a wider turn to actually change course, thus giving a new dimension of difficulty, mainly because hitting an asteroid will not be healthy for you.

Lurking over to the how the game plays, Disney fans will probably be a bit unused to the space setting, after all, most of Disney's movies are more down to earth. The actual story is compelling enough though the game genre might not be appealing just to anyone, especially if you're not the commanding type.

The gameplay resembles Starfleet Command more than it resembles the more traditional build-base-destroy approach, while maintaining a degree of simplicity and the lack of micromanagement. The game does sport a squad-system to keep us strategy lovers at home.

With all the prestige involved, you wouldn't expect Disney to go short on voice acting, and it sure doesn't, the game plays like a movie. No shortcomings in any aspects, giving you a truly cinematic gaming experience.

Being fair, I'll say that the game is very much alive and kicking, you'll enjoy it if you actually like the genre, and might get bored if you don't. Micromanagement fans beware, as such almost does not exist at all, and the game goes through without much base building as we're used to in ordinary strategy games.

Congrats to Disney for bringing yet another title that holds its own ground. Do I feel Disney is trying to get into all the game genres? Maybe.... For now, you're left with this movie-spun cookie.


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