Treasure Planet

Review

posted 11/21/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
The first time I came in contact with Treasure Planet was at this year’s annual Gamers Day event held by Sony to show off the newest and latest games to hit the PS2. TP appeared in a corner of the room next to a machine running Primal, and thus went relatively un-noticed. I suppose that the allure of free booze and geek-ish conversation was more than enough to pull anyone and everyone away from the TP demo machine. To be honest the only reason I noticed it was because earlier in the day, the machine held a placard for My Street and was later replaced with Treasure Planet when no one was looking. My buddy James (from Cinescape Magazine) and I decided to make our favorite Sony employee’s lives a living hell by mentioning the supposedly un-noticed change at every opportunity. Thus we have Treasure Planet, a game that no doubt swept under the radar of the majority of the press and onto the store shelves of our local retailers. I’m kind of thankful that I took the opportunity to play TP that day because it turned out to be one of the best Disney to video game adaptations that I have ever played.

Games based on movies (especially children’s movies) have a tendency to feel cheap and rushed. After all, it’s just a one-time deal it’s not like the companies have to build a franchise. Besides, what does a 4-year-old who happens to be in love with a cartoon really know about video games anyways? So thus it is expected that all future developers will deliver games that fall into this trap. Thankfully the people at Bizarre Creations were wise enough to realize this ahead of time and avoid the pitfalls that lay ahead.

This game succeeds where the other child-themed games have failed, it provides some excellent production values that really make the entire game feel and look like a winner. Just by viewing the opening sequence you’ll realize that this game is more than meets the eye and that any preconceived notions that you had about Disney to videogame adaptations should be thrown out the window. Forget what you learned from Monsters Inc. and Stitch 626, this is one platformer that is ready to play with the big boys and had it not been for the atrocious amounts of Rare-inspired scavenger hunt-style game play, this would be a contender.

There are two types of levels that populate Treasure Planet, ones that are 3D platformers and those that require you to control a hoverboard as you essentially go through the motions of a 3D platformer. The majority of the early levels will require you to gather 10 green power objects as well as 100 (insert random widgets here). It’s nice at first until you realize that the levels only contain 100 widgets and that you’ll spend about 30 minutes backtracking in order to find that elusive one that you missed earlier on. It’s a fad that was started by Rare and apparently their high-sales figures have led other developers to believe that this is a winning combination. Wake up guys, it isn’t nor has it ever been. Nobody wants to go on an Easter Egg hunt that doesn’t conclude with the consumption of chocolate.

It’s really a shame that these levels were bogged down by the scavenger hunt goals because they’re actually really well designed. Each level opens up with a cinematic from the movie and surprisingly, they actually tie-in to the upcoming levels. Then you’ll be treated to an engine rendered cutscene that is actually pretty well done. Then you’ll be throw into the levels with a set of tasks to complete. Their architecture won’t soon rival the big boys of the genre but it’s more than competent of holding its own. I especially enjoyed traversing around the environments to see what lie ahead, they’re very well laid out. They may not be as big as Ratchet & Clank's or as detailed as Sly Cooper’s but they most definitely do the job.
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