The toys are back in town - Review By Tren
Toy Commander is one of those games that just doesn't really fit into any one genre comfortably. It is an original title, although it shows ideas and concepts borrowed from other games, be it the viewing of the world from the eyes of toys like Micro Machines, or the strategic missions like Command and Conquer. The game starts with an excellent graphic sequence showing a young boy, Guthy, playing with his toys. Guthy's bear, Hugolin, is sick of the way Guthy uses the toys then tosses them aside. Thus he instigates a toy revolt and declares himself the new 'Toy Commander'.
You take on the role of Guthy in an attempt to regain control of your toys. This is achieved by completing various missions. Each mission uses a variety of miniature toys and vehicles, such as tanks, cars, trucks, helicopters and planes as well as a platoon of plastic soldiers. There are more than 50 missions in total, set by Hugolin's chums who control the eight different rooms in the house.
You start off only with access to the Kitchen, which is controlled by the robot toy Cyclon. The first few missions are simple affairs designed to help get you up to speed with the controls. You have as long as you want for each mission, however if you beat at least four of the tasks within each room within a specified time you are given the opportunity to battle with the boss of that particular room. If you defeat them, they will turn their loyalty to you and assist you in the final confrontation with Hugolin.
Great graphics and superb attention to detail are the first two things that will grab your attention. Thankfully the frame rate is consistent, with rarely a hint of slow down. The game is also enjoyable to play. From the simple initial tasks such as boiling some eggs by pushing them into a pan using a truck, then turning on the cooker with a plane, to more difficult challenges where the solution isn't immediately obvious, the game has a great learning curve.
Toy Commander's graphics are great, especially the sense of scale they provide.
Although each mission in the game is unique they all follow one of three basic formats: races around the miniaturised world, blast 'em ups (such as the mission in the kid's bedroom where you must destroy the evil Godzilla toy before he burns down an entire toy town), or strategic missions which require careful use of different vehicles to achieve a goal (such as the mission in the first room requiring you to destroy a gate and the artillery guarding a base with a plane, then to drive in with a truck and steal the secret bomb). Because of the variety in the missions you will never find the game tedious or dull. Also, because you have multiple missions to choose from at any one time, if you're having difficulty with one mission you can move on to another room to try another.
The enemy's intelligence is not overly devious, but their positioning in the levels is. You can often lose your vehicle quickly due to an over ambitious attack on an enemy base. No Cliché, the game's developers, have utilised the analogue controls well. The control is more arcade style than simulation, and in some missions this is a godsend. For example in an early mission you need to shoot submarines with your plane before your own boat makes its way across the water they inhibit. The fact that you can almost hover with the plane here is very useful, as you can shoot one sub then swoop down and take out the next.
Battling it out with up to three other players in a variety of toy tanks, trucks, and planes is just plain cool.
The sound in the game is worth mentioning. The music provides great ambience, without being too loud or annoying. It's typically European music, not cheesy rock, which makes for a refreshing change. The sound effects are all suitable without being anything outstanding, but they do their job sufficiently.
Apart from the single player mode, the only other mode in the game is the multi-player mode. This allows up to 4 players to each pick an initial vehicle and to either have a deathmatch, cat and mouse or capture the flag match. The first and last being self-explanatory, the cat and mouse is an interesting addition. Whoever is shot first becomes the cat and the rest of the players become the mice. Whoever manages to remain a mouse for the longest time period after a specified time limit is the winner. The multi-player mode is great fun, and with good players playing it is an exciting game to watch as well as participate in. Initially it may appear that the airborne vehicles have the main advantage, however this is not necessarily true as all the vehicles have their own strengths and weaknesses. Being able to change vehicle mid game by returning to your base is a great addition, as this eliminates any possible disadvantages as you can change your vehicle to match the your opponents playing style.
This is certainly no "kids' game" despite its appearance, and appeals across a wide age range. As children will like its cute style and fun controls, whilst older players will enjoy its challenging missions and unique humour.
There is little to criticise in Toy Commander, as it is an expertly crafted game. The only real gripe is the difficulty of the bosses, admittedly the real challenge is getting through to them by beating the times in each of the challenges, however once you do get to them you'll be disappointed as usually they can be beaten first try. This is not due to a lack of intelligence on their part, its merely due to the ease with which they can be taken down.
The controls can be tricky at first and some of the mission objectives are confusing, but there isn't much else wrong with Toy Commander. Nice stove, BTW.
Initially, the controls can seem a little frustrating, especially for younger gamers. Don't let this put you off, as you'll be missing out on a high quality game. Spend some time getting used to them and soon you'll be flying or driving around this amazing scaled environment with ease.
The Final Word
Overall, Toy Commander is an original and fresh game which provides a long lasting challenge and constantly surprises and amuses with its innovative design and excellent gameplay.
Developer: No Cliche
Highs: Great graphics, the scale of the house is amazing, superb missions.
Lows: The bosses are too easy.
Other: 1-4 players, VMU Compatible (10 blocks), Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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