Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/11/02 | Genre: Platform
Developer Bizarre Creations are well known for their excellent racing titles. Titles like Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast, and Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox were both highly acclaimed games that added an element of style to racing. However, their newest game is a platforming action/adventure called Treasure Planet. The game is based on the recent Disney movie and has players traveling to various locations via mystical portals as they activate beacons, collect coins and energy, and make their way towards the legendary Treasure Planet.
The gameplay in Treasure Planet varies from time to time because some levels have you running around on foot, while others place our hero on a fantastical futuristic surfboard for a bit of what's known as solar surfing. The segments of solar surfing give you the same objectives as the more traditional levels: collect one hundred coins and ten energies, along with some others. But, in these levels, it is far more tedious than it needs to be. The solar surfing levels range from linear paths that are fairly straight-forward to vast terrains that you must search high and low for all the goodies. Finding all the coins and energies takes longer than necessary and it can be a daunting (frustrating) task to search the more expansive environments to find the single coin that you're missing. In the linear levels, you'll simply have to repeat the circuit over and over and over until you've gotten every last coin and energy ball; it's redundant, it's boring, and in general, not a whole lot of fun.
Fortunately, the traditional platforming levels are much better than the solar surfing segments. The action is similar to every other game in this genre, and that's not a bad thing. Running around collecting trinkets, jumping across chasms, and punching out enemies rarely gets old. Plus, you'll come across a wider variety of objectives in these levels. Sure you'll still have to get those coins and energies, but you'll also have to complete other tasks such as smashing open a number of crates in a given time limit. You also have a bit of help in meeting your objectives. Your transformable pal Morph will always be at your shoulder, ready to lend a hand when necessary. Using Morph properly plays a big role in getting through most of the game, and the little guy fulfills the requisite sidekick role admirably.
The graphics in Treasure Planet will not jump out at you for the most part; however, there are some absolutely stunning animation sequences used in between levels. I think they're supposed to make the story flow together, and while they don't really accomplish this task, they are fun to watch. Of course, character designs are top rate stuff coming from Disney, and the in-game models match the animated counterparts almost exactly. The level design is also good for the most part, and the execution is the only downside to the solar surfing levels. Had they been done in the traditional manner, they would have been fine. The sound is so-so. The music from the film and voices are done well, but the rest of the time, it's pretty flat.
Treasure Planet has a few good qualities. Mainly, as pointed out above, the environments, character designs, and animation are all well done. Unfortunately, the game suffers heavily in the solar surfing segments, and these make up a substantial portion of the overall game. In the end, the good qualities are not enough to overcome the burden of the game's inadequacies. While some genre loving gamers are sure to enjoy this title, the majority of players will probably want to look to the likes of Ratchet and Clank or Sly Cooper to get their platforming fix this holiday season. If you're interested, give Treasure Planet a rental; you'll likely enjoy the traditional levels to some extent, and you can judge the game for yourself from there.