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    Retro Column: Toy Commander
    Thursday, 4 September 2008
    Every man knows that one of the best things about having children is the fact that it gives you an excuse to play with toys again. Especially ones that have to potential to create a living room war. Luckily game developers No Cliché realised that grown men want to play with toys without all the messy business of actually having a child. So they created Toy Commander on the Dreamcast.

    The game is centred around a child called Guthy (or Andy outside of Europe), nicknamed the Toy Commander. Guthy gets some new army themed toys and stops playing with his childhood ones. This doesn't go down too well with his old teddy Huggy Bear. Huggy recruits Guthys old toys and declares war on the new guys. General madness ensues with missions ranging from taking down a giant Godzilla style monster to boiling an egg (a common wartime practice I'm told). Players can take control of planes, helicopters and land vehicles to complete these missions. Each type of vehicle has a number of variants although they fall into 2 catagories: armed and transport.

    The games graphics still hold up quite well by todays standards due to its simple graphics style. Vehicles and characters look smooth and cartoony. Some of the games textures are a bit basic but this is to be expected of a game that is almost a decade old. There is almost no slowdown either, with missions running smoothly throughout.

    Level design is the real star of the show with each group of levels being set in a certain room of the house. Once the player has cleared all the levels in a room they can then take on the boss. Once defeated, this boss joins your side to face Huggy Bear. Each level features a number of goals that must be completed in order to advance. The game manages to stay fresh by creating a wide variety of missions. These can be anything from saving a princess in a castle patrolled by soldiers to a standard race with toy cars. The levels themselves are very well made and have a realistic layout whilst still managing to be fun to roam around. To make the levels even more intersting, there are half pipe style ramps that allow ground based vehicles to drive on the walls. This adds a tactical element to the ground vehicles since they don't have as much versatiliy as the aircraft, but they can hide on almost any surface.

    The multiplayer is fun but the levels are too big for just 4 people. Most of the matches are normally taken up by trying to find the other player. This can unfortunately lead to very boring multiplayer matches. This is a real shame since the multiplater matches manage to run incredibly smoothly with no noticable changes to the draw distance or framerate.

    The controls are simple and functional although the ground based vehicle can feel a little restricted. This is due to only being able to aim vertically with the horizontal aim being limited to the direction your vehicle is facing.

    All in all, Toy Commander is a massively varied game that manages to stay fresh throughout. It is only let down by its sparse multiplayer and slightly restricted ground based vehicle controls. Definately worth a buy if you own a Dreamcast.

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    posted by goaferboy @ 11:00  
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