|At first glance Toy Commander doesn't seems like much. What's so
unique about a bunch of toy planes, tanks, helicopters, and other vehicles ready to blow
each other up? To tell the truth, Id had enough of war toys after Sarge's Heroes.
Toy Commander also suffers because looks like a kids game, especially because of another
recent release-Toy Story 2 on the PlayStation (which is a kids game). But, Toy
Commander is not just for the kiddies; everyone deserves a turn. Its one of the most
challenging games out on the Dreamcast so far; it's also one of the most engaging. Let
this be a warning--Toy Commander is NOT one of those games you can beat over a weekend;
it's going to take you a few weeks of obsessive game play, and I do mean obsessive. The
more game time for your money, I figure. Toy Commander is a must have for new Dreamcast
owners that offers tons of fun for up to four players.
In the game you play Andy, a young boy trying to control his toys. Andy was the original toy commander--that is before his beloved toy, Huggy Bear, united Andy's old toys against him. Now Andy must battle his old toys with his new ones, to regain his house and the title of Toy Commander. The house is divided Into eight rooms--and each room is controlled by a toy boss. The boss challenges you to complete special missions. Winning missions will open new rooms and new bosses. While the plot of Toy Commander may sound a bit childish, the game play was as challenging as any "grown-up" game and the environments were cool down to the last detail.
From the first room, the kitchen/dinning room, I knew something was a little different about Andy's house. I finally realized what it was when I made it to the living room. The bathroom was split into two parts, the toilet was in one room (a foul cockroach could be found in the depths of the toilet) and the bathtub in another. Andy's house is definitely not American, so I'm guessing it's Japanese (there are also futons). But, it was produced for Sega by a French design studio, No Cliché, so it could be French. What I'm trying to say here is that the house itself is so unique that it becomes a character. It feels more realistic than most video game environments. I was particularly fond of the kid's room and the living room. Both were reproduced down the last detail, including scattered comic books, house plants, CDs, and more. The color pallet and graphic style enhances the ambiance of all the rooms.
Toy Commander sports some pretty slick graphics. They are sharp, stylish, and fast. The graphics stay simple and complement the game's light, colorful, and fun style. The lighting is impressive and adds to the overall feel of the game. The frame rate is spectacular, and the scenery speeds by smoothly--even during the most heated dogfights between the fastest airplanes. While the graphics aren't jaw-dropping, they are some of the nicest I've seen on the Dreamcast yet (although I'm really waiting to see Capcom's Resident Evil: Code Veronica). But it's not the graphics that make Toy Commander so addictive; it's the missions.
In Toy Commander you'll find your self doing everything from putting out fires to deodorizing the overpowering stink from a pair of sneakers. Missions use from one to three vehicles (from the categories- planes, helicopters, tanks, and transportation vehicles) and some missions have time limits; and all missions should be done in less than the room boss's time. After beating four of their best times you have a chance to fight the room's boss; beat him and you'll have an ally when it comes time to the showdown with Huggy Bear. Most rooms have a mission devoted to racing, and they range from doing loop-dee-loops in an airplane around the kitchen to racing around a homemade race track in your matchbox car. But racing is the most normal thing you'll be doing on the way to becoming the toy commander. Each mission uses the room in a completely different way. The kitchen goes from housing an enemy base, to an airplane race track, and eventually a totally flooded stage were your airplane must bomb subs to protect your cargo ship. I really appreciated the variety in the missions, and particularly enjoyed the fact that not all the missions involved shooting. One of my favorite missions were where I had to find a bunch of plastic men hidden around the room. It may sound boring, but Toy Commander made me feel like I was a little kid playing again. Toy Commander is a fairly non-violent game, although toy weaponry plays a heavy role in the game.
The controls are kept simple and very effective. There are gas and break buttons, steering, machine gun, special weapon, switch weapon, and switch vehicle. There are only three special weapons: missiles, bombs, and mines (and I kind of appreciated the simple weapons after games like Quake and Worms Armageddon). I was most fond of my missiles. The weapons must be collected, so you never seem to have enough. All of the weapons, even the machine gun, can be powered up to cause more damage or go further. All of the vehicles need gas and can take damage, but luckily, there are power ups hidden on every level. Even with power-ups, I had a very hard time on some levels; I was almost ready to give up. Instead. I did what any self- respecting gamer would; I hunted down some cheat codes. I found that the codes were essential to my sanity as well as to complete the game. This is not necessarily a fault with the game, but attempting Toy Commander without codes is recommended only for those people with lots of time, patience, and a very steady hand.
The one complaint I have about Toy Commander is with the controls. Driving your little vehicles requires a very delicate touch. A few hours of practice will make Toy Commander a very playable game, but the control is never ideal. Despite these issues, Toy Commander offers a full package in an innovative and large single player game as well as three multi-player games. While the multi-player game is not the highlight of Toy Commander, it is pretty fun. It allows up to four players, teams and offers deathmatch, cat and mouse, and capture the flag modes. The matches take place in any of the rooms opened in the single player mode. It's not as cool as the single player game, but it is an experience that no other DC game offers by way of fast, four player fighting action, with all types of vehicles- including cars, tanks, jets, helicopters, and spaceships.
Toy Commander is a long, hard, and complex game based on a simple concept. It is not for kids, but its sure feels like playing. It brings back childhood memories of turning the couch into a fort, and long afternoons spent on epic battles between rival toy clans. I think every DC owner needs to get a copy of Toy Commander, because playing video games rarely feels this fun. Casual gamers may be frustrated with the learning curve, but stick with it--the higher levels are well worth the struggle. Also, remember to get some codes before deep frustration sets it. It is nice to come across a challenging and fun game, a game that will last longer than a weekend. This time buy, don't rent.