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Video Game

Title: Toy Commander
Genre: Action / Toy Simulation
Players: 1 - 4 split screen
Developer: No Cliche
Publisher: Sega
Date Published: November 10, 1999
Platforms: Dreamcast
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Animated Violence)

Overview:

When I was a child I would always play with little plastic tanks and planes while waiting for my father to come home and be with me. I would pit green against tan in epic battles of strategy, skill, and of course imagination. As I grew older and came into my teenage years I put down the toys and picked up new hobbies: girls, sports, reading, video games... I guess that's where this game comes in.

To put it simply, Toy Commander does exactly what the title implies: it allows you to command toys as a child would with his imagination. This child's name is Andy. In Andy's imagination, his house is in civil disarray as shiny new toys infiltrate the domicile. New toys are pitted against the old toys in a battle to settle once and for all what faction of toys is supreme. Territories such as the garage, living room, and attic have all fallen to the insurrection of the old regime led by Andy's very first toy, Huggy Bear. Feeling neglected, an armor plated Huggy Bear returns from Andy's past with a legion of toys including "Vroom-Vroom" a toy bulldozer from the sandbox, "Blackjack" a pirate ship from the kitchen sink, "Buggy-Wug" an old remote controlled car, "Peggy" a rocking horse, "Roly Poly" a crazy clown, and all sorts of other old toys that have been in storage too long. For Andy to reclaim each room of his house, he must break through the minions guarding each room's leader and prove himself to be the stronger toy commander, and make his way to the final showdown with his first toy in the cellar.

Gameplay:

The game has simple, cartoon-like graphics that are playful and warm. Also, the gameplay is simple enough for a child to understand, but still involving to the point where it still hold the interest of more mature players. This game is fairly multifaceted, this third person action simulation has four basic vehicle types to keep you playing: fighter planes, bombers, helicopters, and tanks (although some missions involve non-combat units for racing, or other specific missions). The majority of the missions involve an armored fighting vehicle to infiltrate one of these enemy positions solo and destroy, rescue, or generally disrupt with something there. In many cases, the missions given to the toy commander and his troops reflect the fact that the war is not as much about the fight as it is about passing tests and proving yourself worthy of you and your army's position.

When commanding your toys there are a few gameplay aspects to take note of. First of all, each vehicle you have has a set of gauges and indicators. There is a fuel gauge, energy meter, primary weapon indicator, and special weapon indicator.

The gasoline gauge goes down at different rates during the game depending on vehicle type and speed. Some vehicles have small gas tanks, and others have large tanks. Some burn fuel slowly, and other go through it quickly. When you start to run out, refuel at either a fueling station or by finding a gas can power-up mid-level. In the case that you run out of fuel, your vehicle will not crash or stop, but you will move at a VERY slow pace. This will render this vehicle almost defenseless, and it is generally not a good idea to be a sitting target.

The energy meter displays your remaining hit points. If this concept is beyond you, it basically tells you how much damage you have taken and can further withstand. In the same manner that fuel consumption was different between vehicles, so is the amount of damage a vehicle can take. Some vehicles are quick and lightly armored, and other sluggish and beastly, and some vehicles are just not combat worthy at all. The vehicles provided to are to make gameplay for each mission more interesting.

Weapon indicators are quite fun. Each non-transport vehicle has a machine gun and a special weapon, each coming in three power levels. To advance to the next level of a weapon type, you must get a power-up corresponding to that weapon. The machine gun progresses from a revolver cap gun's ammunition, to a tap fed cap gun ammuntion, and then to the powerful firecracker! What blows up little army men better than firecrackers? The special weapons (including mines, missiles, and bombs) have a similar upgrade system. When you get a power-up corresponding to one of these weapon, it receives and upgrade. Mines upgrade from thumb tacks, to push pins, to impassable corn holders; missiles go from pencils, to pens, to devastating markers; and bombs from erasers, to kneadable erasers, to tubes of almighty corrector. OOOH! Scary!

Another wise thing to note is that in many missions you are given more than one vehicle. Sometimes you are given a variety of such tools to help enable you to traverse different places with more ease other times you are given an combat vehicle and a non-combat vehicle. This makes it so that you must clear an area and then move the non-combat vehicle into the area to achieve mission goals. The list of vehicles available to you is always in the corner. Sometimes you need them all, and other times you only need one.

Multiplayer:

This is where the game REALLY gets good! As stated before, this game can support up to 4 player. Not revolutionary by today's standards, but this is one of the best multiplayer games for the dreamcast. In the multiplayer version, each player can choose from any of the combat vehicles from the game. Tanks, jeeps, apaches, deep space bombers, jet fighters, etc. They're all in there. There are three modes of play: deathmatch, capture the flag, and cat and mouse.

Deathmatch:
Destroy as many enemy vehicles as possible. Each vehicle scores one point. Fairly standard deathmatch rules.
Capture the flag:
Infiltrate the enemy team's base to steal their flag. Return the flag to your base to score. Each returned flag scores one point for your team. Fairly standard CTF rules.
Cat and mouse:
One player is the mouse the rest are cats. Shooting the mouse makes you the next target or "mouse". You score points while you are mouse. Similar to reverse tag, juggernaut, and rabbit game types in other publications.

At first, some of the vehicles in multiplayer seem unbalanced. One would think that a jeep could never stand its ground against a jet fighter, but balance is easily found in the fact that different vehicles have different amounts of fuel, hit points, and speed. Also, land based toys are often hard to spot on the ground and can easily pilot through tighter, lower places that other toys may not. In addition to these factors, since the toys are partly in a child's imagination, they car drive around walls and other surfaces that defy gravity. It all works out in the end.

Also, each team's base contains a refueling station and a hangar. If a player runs low on fuel he can return to base to fuel his vehicle or switch it for another. On the other hand, this option doesn't stay available for long as the other team is able to destroy such facilities. It's all fun, though.

My thoughts:

This is one of the best multiplayer games for the dreamcast. While I know most of you don't own one of these consoles, I would suggest owning a copy in the case that you do. You should be able to pick one up at Slackers or most other user game stores as well as eBay. The graphics in this game are playful and the gameplay is simple, but everything comes together to make a really enjoyable game with none of the blood and violence. The single player campaign is very involving at times, and can be fairly challenging. The game is great, and if you think it's anything like the Army Men series, I'd say you're dead wrong. I'd give it a 4 out of 5, even by today's standards.


All information has been taken from CrAzE's personal experiences, the Toy Commander booklet, or game experiance. Please, /msg me with any questions, comments, or concerns. If you don't have any, /msg me anyway.

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