Ever since Disney’s latest production hit the movies market some of you could have already guessed what was due to happen in not all too distant future – Yes you are right!
Not to break with the tradition of presenting a “game to the movie”, Disney Interactive announced and “finally” released Treasure Planet - on the PS2 as well as on the PSone platform - in November 2002, which is NOW!
The list of movie adapting games is very long indeed, some of those titles did enormously well and pushed the genre forward, at least a little (for example Aladdin on the Sega Genesis back in 1994), but sadly these are usually exceptions.
The typical movie-game features 2d/3d platform jump 'n’ run action as well as some “unique” astonishing looking 3d racing/flying possibility (i.e. the stampede in “the Lion King” or the flying sequences in “Peter Pan – The Return to Neverland” or pseudo racers in “Star Wars 1-3”) – and it’s just the same with “Treasure Planet” (in this case it’s the 'solar racing option' that captures the eye when looking at the back of the game package).
“What is your quest?”
After activating a mysterious ancient communication device, which is figured out to be a map of the secret location of the legendary treasure planet, a young ambitious lad and his mates make up their mind and decide that it is up to them to seek the Holy Grail...the treasure planet of course.
The young man’s name is Jim Hawkins and it is him, the pigtailed hero of Disney’s recent creation, who will be your jumping, fighting, howling and Dualshock2-controlled alter ego this time (wow, you’d expect this to be??).
Together with Dr. Doppler, a scientist, as well as some sort of mentor to Jim, John Silver, a rather round and ugly fellow, and last but not least the pink glowing, permanently hovering jellybean Morph, you’ll embark on an average adventure with a very common goal: global welfare supported by a secure financial background provided, this time, by a planet-sized piggy bank.
If you are sharing this capitalistic view of things, Treasure planet will surely get you clinched onto it!
The game consists of two sorts of levels:
Ordinary “jump, run and seek” areas and windy, high speed Solar Surfer racing tracks.
The platform game itself is easily described since its design has already been used practically countless times before – defeat enemies by a kick/punch combination, jumping precisely from platform to platform, seeking hidden switches, collecting coins and other goodies and blowing up unwanted obstacles, in order to proceed by activating ancient mechanisms.
By standing on various locations some kind of special force is enabled for a short period of time, this might either be a cyborg arm to lift heavy objects, a helping hand, to push unreachable switches and a jetpack to fly onto higher level areas.
Up until now it sounds quite genuine and enjoyable, but unfortunately there isn’t much left this game yet has to offer.
But let’s not be desperate, let’s cheer and be happy for there is still a feature left unnoticed so far: the “Solar Surfer“.
“Harry, the snitch, the snitch!!!!”
The Solar Surfer is some sort of “Back to The Future 2” surfboard with a wind sail, which can be locked away within the blink of an eye, and a rocket engine for additional boost.
The tasks to accomplish have not been left unaltered - they have been reduced to collecting a certain amount of widely spread coins, whose location is sometimes impossible to make out, and green energy balls.
As you may well assume seeking little yellow spots on a high speed ride is not at all a piece of cake but more a masterpiece of game pad art, since controllability and swiftness of a 1st World War Russian battle ship is easilyy compared to the hyper modern wind glider.
Especially in later levels the fact of racing dozens of laps until gaining possession of all those oh-so-necessary “key” items sometimes leads to utter frustration.
It’s Mulan!...no wait!...Arielle..Atlantis? PocahontasÃ‚Â ? Simba?!?
Disney’s games always held the advantage of having splendid graphics compared to the rest of the average game-of-the-movie genre, and Treasure Planet doesn’t break with this tradition.
Jim himself, as well as his fellows, is animated in a very smooth, gentle as well as detailed way, the movie sequences are, since they are cut scenes from the original flick, high quality but sometimes end too abruptly as to create real cinematic flair.
Background graphics on the other hand lack colours and textures, a faux pas thinking on how colourful big brother movie has been.
Disney music is happy music, and if it was for the original score only, this game would get highest grades. But as pathetic as it might sound light creates shadow – this time the sound effects, the only thing Disney didn’t provide, are nothing more than a monotonous repetition of a few lines or howls, such as the overwhelming Jim’s Oran Utan outburst of emotion after activating a device (This is especially funny when seeing it the first time, since the task is only to hop from one platform to another).
Overall, Treasure Planet is a piece of work that suffers greatly from the lack of variety, a fact that makes the game appear to have been finished in a haste just to meet the deadline. The Solar Surfer feature is not half as unique as it could have been, and the game play itself has been stretched out pretty artificially; it is definitely not motivating to seek every corner of the virtual world to find 100 coins just to activate a simple switch – Treasure Planet’s goal setting is surely worth discussing.