|Disney's Treasure Planet|
|Developer: Bizarre Creations
Release Date: Out Now
Disney seem to have been making this kind of animated movie for ever; Take a classic story and give it the "Full Disney" fantasy treatment. For those of you who didn't know, Treasure Island is a book by Robert Louis Stevenson, and a movie of the same title (starring the brilliant Robert Newton as Long John Silver) was made in 1950, which for many became the definitive version of a truly classic tale. There's little doubt that the 1950 movie was the inspiration for the animated update and game, but the setting has been moved into space…
No, don't tut and discount it like I did, it works surprisingly well. Once you've accepted that the spaceships in this universe look like pirate galleons, and all kinds of beings (including humans) seem to be able to breath in the depths of space, the possibilities are endless.
The plot follows the story of Jim Hawkins (you) and his discovery of a mysterious sphere and its use as a star map. This map shows all of the local planetary systems, and also the location of Captain Nathaniel Flint's trove, the mysterious Treasure Planet (Flint happens to be a murderous six-eyed lizard creature pirate legend type thing)...
Boffin Doctor Doppler (a highly intelligent, but pompous dog-like creature who is voiced by David Hyde Pierce who plays Niles in Frasier) discovers that the sphere shows the locations of navigation beacons, and it's your task (amongst others) to activate them all and pave the way for the voyage all the way to TP and its legendary riches.
The bulk of the game is played in the style of a dozen other platform adventure games. Anyone who's played Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank or the like will feel instantly at home. The levels mirror the moivie's setting well, and some are truly spectacular and give a great sense of scale; our personal favourite was the massive space station, the "Acturian Trader". The action is always part "beat 'em up" and part platform. Jumping, double jumping, hanging onto ledges… (the platform game staple diet) are all in here, as is a first person look-around view if you want to examine your surroundings. Regular restart points and unlimited lives mean you'll seldom get lost or disheartened, despite some genuinely testing sections that would challenge even the most experienced Italian plumber. But unlike Mario's last adventure, TP's game camera mostly handles the action well, although occasionally it would have been nice to have a higher viewpoint when dropping down onto platforms below.
The game borrows ideas from all sorts of sources and throws in regular surprises in the form of mini-sections or sub-games that play like anything from first person shooting sections to MGS style stealth, Super Monkey Ball/Marble Madness or even Crash Bandicoot inspired bits. The game engine is solid and produces pleasing visuals throughout, little touches like sun flares, footprints and dust add to the overall effect.
TP adds several levels in which Jim flies around on a "Solar Surfer", they play a lot like a cross between WipEout and Tony Hawks as you zoom around going through timed gates and collecting items. Visually these levels are some of the prettiest in the game, and the control and handling are subtle beyond anything you might expect. Some of the guys who worked on TP also worked on Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox, and the smoothness and immense impression of speed have carried over well.
Clearly aimed at a younger audience, the game still offers plenty of challenge to the seasoned platform gamer. But due to a clever game structure allows you to see the end of the game without collecting absolutely everything and completing all of the more demanding tasks. If you enjoyed the movie you'll undoubtedly enjoy the game, which is a credit to the Disney name. And if you haven't seen the movie you'll probably want to after playing this surprisingly enjoyable title.
- Polished gameplay, good looks and some varied action.
- Solar Surfers rule (Tony Hawk really should get one).
- The camera doesn't mess you around.
- Highly derivative.
- It's another platform adventure based on a Disney movie.