Game Over Online ~ Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

GameOver Game Reviews - Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (c) Disney Interactive, Reviewed by - Clarence Worley

Game & Publisher Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (c) Disney Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 54%
Date Published Monday, October 16th, 2000 at 08:33 PM

Divider Left By: Clarence Worley Divider Right

Michael Jackson from the Jackson Five, Gerri Halliwell from the Spice Girls, Keyshawn Johnson from the New York Jets, and now Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. It's a common occurrence to see individual stars break away from the groups and teams that made them famous in order to make it on their own. Ok, so Buzz Lightyear is only an animated character but heck, even the occasional cartoon character has an ego, and Buzz Lightyear is one of those cocky characters. Oh sure, he comes across as a nice guy in the movies, but run into him at the Jiggly Room on a Friday night and you'll have another thing coming. Since the success of the Toy Story movies, Buzz Lightyear has gone on to appear in a televised cartoon series of his own. Now, with the help of Disney Inteactive, Buzz Lightyear appears in his very own video game, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, you take on the role of guess who? Buzz Lightyear. You follow the adventures of everyone's favourite Space Ranger as you chase down, literally, and arrest the villainous foes that threaten the universe. All the popular characters from the television show make appearances including Buzz and his band of good guys: Mira, Booster and X-R. On the other end of the spectrum, Emperor Zurg is up to no good again with the help of his vile henchmen: Torque, Gravatina and Skreel, among others. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command features 9 environments and 14 levels of space-age hero action-adventure in what can best be described as a platform racer. No, there are no vehicles involved, or at least not for the most part, but each level acts as a race to the finish. Still confused? Well, let me explain.

After a briefing before each level from Commander Nebula, Buzz Lightyear immediately comes face to face with each of the bosses. Rather than face off against the evil pawn though, the objective is to race the henchmen to his getaway spot so you can arrest him properly. This makes no sense to me since once you get to the getaway spot, you have to fight the bad guy anyway. You can literally walk right beside Torque on the first level but you can't do anything to him until you reach his destination. The goal of each level, as I mentioned, is to beat the henchmen to his getaway area. If the boss gets to the spot before you do, you have 15 seconds to get there before the mission is a failure. In other words, the entire game is a race against time. While there are plenty of items scattered throughout each level, it's rather useless when you know you can't take a moment or two out of your schedule to pick up a few things, you must proceed rather quickly or you'll fail the level.

Players start with the standard-issue Space Ranger laser, but you can purchase additional weapons and power-ups throughout each level. The key word there is purchase, because very few things in this game are free. With the exception of medical kits and fuel, you'll need coins in order to purchase everything from weapons and power-ups, to such objects as platforms that allow you to clear chasms without harm. Coins are scattered throughout the levels and if you destroy a baddie, they'll release coins as well. As you come across a weapon, it will have a number attached to it. That's how many coins it'll cost you to purchase that particular item. If you don't have enough coins, you can't equip yourself with that item. The arsenal of weapons include homing plasma guns, rockets, proximity grenades, Gattling guns and much more. There are also a few vehicles to help Buzz speed along his way including hoverboards and jet bikes for which you need fuel to use. Once you're out of fuel, the vehicles become useless. You'll also have to save little green men along the way too. Defeating and arresting the boss at the end of the level isn't the only goal, you also need to rescue enough little green men and have a set number of coins in your possession in order to advance. The missions are broken up into locations including Flamar, Trade World, Ice World, Planet Z and finally Zurg's Throne Room. Many of the levels are relatively easy to complete and although it sounds like you might have a hard time picking up weapons and power-ups, you often don't need them to defeat the bosses.

Graphically, Buzz Lightyear is a mixed bag. When I first loaded up the game, I couldn't believe how poor the menu system looked. I set the resolution for 1024x768, but there was no way it was more than 320x200. Luckily, once the game loaded up, the visuals improved tremendously. The graphics, as expected, consist mostly of cartoon-inspired textures. The 3D models are animated well, although the environments outside of the actual race track, so to speak, are a little bland. The special effects leave little to be desired and I found myself constantly sticking to the walls and borders of each level. In terms of the audio, I was disappointed not to hear Tim Allen's voice as Buzz Lightyear. Instead, the generic voices were very forgettable. The sound effects are extremely basic as well, particularly the weapon effects which sounded terrible when fighting up close with bosses. Music plays throughout each level, but with the hectic pace to reach the end, it was barely noticeable.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a very repetitive game. While the environments are ever changing, the objective and the overall feel of the game remains the same. Simply outrun your opponent to the finish line and then beat him in a one-on-one duel. The emphasis on time really detracts from what could have been a solid platform title. Instead, there's little to no reason to explore the surrounding area and try to pick up as many items as you can. You'll probably find yourself re-playing several of the levels, not because you actually failed to arrest the henchmen, but because you didn't pick up enough coins en route due to the restricted time.

Quite possibly the worst part of Buzz Lightyear are the controls. There is absolutely no option to use a gamepad. Hello? Can somebody say Dukes of Hazzard? How can you not allow for gamepad control? In any case, controlling Buzz Lightyear can be a task in itself. When you turn to the right, rather than rotating in a smooth fashion, Buzz often turns 30 or 45 degrees, making it near impossible to aim properly, not to mention walk in a straight line. You'll find yourself walking into walls quite frequently, which of course is a pain when you find yourself sticking to those walls, as touched on earlier. Rather than turning on the spot, Buzz often turns in a rather large circle. The controls are horrid to say the least. And just to touch on multiplayer, there is none. Buzz Lightyear is a single-player experience only.

Buzz Lightyear is a mix of genres gone wrong. The moral of this game is that you can't mix platform and racing genres, at least not like this. The emphasis on time really detracts from this gaming experience and the controls are terrible. While younger gamers are probably going to love the characters and the atmosphere in general, I'm not sure even they will be able overlook how poorly designed this game is. Buzz Lightyear, take it from Krusty the Clown, putting your name on too many products will eventually backfire.


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