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Gamer Tuesday

April 10, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Guest Review

Developed by: Traveller's Tales

System: PlayStation, Dreamcast, Windows

Today's Gamer Tuesday is going to be different. When I heard of this game I had no idea it even existed, hence why I missed playing it when it first came out. I found someone, however, that is very passionate about the game and can talk about it in better detail that I would ever do, so today's Gamer Tuesday was written by a special guest: Justin J. Smith aka TimonPumbaaFan! Enjoy today's article! - Pedro 'Pap' Hernandez

Everybody has seen Toy Story. Everyone knows who Buzz Lightyear is, yet there may be a good chance you aren't familiar with Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. When Disney released Toy Story in 1995, they foolishly underestimated the film, and didn't make enough toys or merchandise to meet demand (a fact referenced in Toy Story 2). By the time Toy Story 2 came to theaters, Disney had learned its lesson. Tons and tons of toys were made and sold, as well as the usual things Disney creates to coincide with the movie: the ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom, a Disney on Ice show, tons of video-games and a television show called Buzz Lightyear: Of Star Command.

Following the television shows The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Timon & Pumbaa, and Hercules, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command was part of a popular trend of the time to turn hit movies into animated television series. Disney released the pilot episode "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins" as a DTV sequel (many people at the time erroneously labeled it as "Toy Story 3") and the television show would go on for 62 episodes. To help promote the show, Disney would go on to create McDonalds Happy Meal toys, a Disneyland show at Tomorrowland, and video-games for Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, and for the PC.

The video game contains 14 levels. In each level (save for the final one), you have to race "a boss" (which in this case is a villain from the television series) from point A to point B. If you beat the villain to point B, half of his power is taken away. If the villain beats you, you have 15 seconds to come to the battlefield or you lose the game. After you reach the end of the level, you fight the villain until you defeat him. Along the pathway in racing the villain, there are plenty of distractions (from coins, weapons, "hornets" who are out to harm you too) that will both help and prevent you from racing to the finish line. There are also bonus levels in which you must race from point A to point B on the levels by yourself, as well as bonus levels in which you must help XR (a character on the show) to collect his missing pieces and return them to him at a timely matter. It all eventually comes down to the last level which you must complete the following: What else? Defeat The Evil Emperor Zurg.

Your enjoyment of this game will probably stem from how much you enjoy the television show. Personally, I thought it was brilliant. It was, as I see it, the last great animated show Disney made (yes, including Phineas and Ferb). It truly expanded Buzz Lightyear's fictional back-story as a space ranger, yet managed to never violate the rules that the Toy Story movies established. It also created a compelling meta-fictional universe. The best way to describe it was animation's equivalent to Star Trek. While I suppose the show got a fair bit of exposure, I always felt it deserved more. It really perplexes me that this exciting show of adventures in space never really caught on big, while formulaic, horribly-acted sitcoms that take place at a high-school (which sadly currently dominate the Disney Channel) attract big ratings, but I'm digressing.

The game really captured the spirit of this underrated show well. The simple act of combining a racing game genre with an action one really made this game stand out from every other Disney game I've played, which tended to be formulaic (this coming from someone who's played most every Disney game from the PS1 version of A Bug's Life to Kingdom Hearts 2). The levels are a lot of fun, having a lot of repeat play value in order to try and "top" your previous score. Compared to many other "children's games" of today, the game is a bit of a challenge. It may take several goes before one can eventually beat it. The graphics, while dated, bring in a lot of color and energy that many games lack, and anyone familiar with this show will gain extra enjoyment from simply immersing themselves in this universe.

While many of my views are based on nostalgia, having recently played it again, I was delighted to find myself enjoying the levels after all these years. I'm not sure if modern day audiences would enjoy it. The graphics and gameplay are definitely products of their time, and it may take some getting used to. For anyone who is a huge Disney fan or a huge Toy Story fan, I strongly recommend checking it out.

According to Amazon.com, a new copy of the PS1 version can cost up to $99.00! While I'm wouldn't necessarily urge you to go that far, a used copy for a much cheaper price could leave you pleasantly surprised. - Justin J. Smith

 

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