Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island,' which I now command all of you to go out and read, this is a game that looked fairly unassuming on the surface. Since a big premise (and a big part of the movie's advertising) in Treasure Planet
is the fact that our hero Jim Hawkins has use of a really cool Solar Surfer, I pretty much thought this was a racing game. To compound my confusion, the version we got to play around with at E3 was most definitely a level with Jim racing through some cool meteor-field track. But, it turns out that Treasure Planet
is much more than a racing game. The game follows the movie and introduces the 'treasure hunt' you'll be part of with a scene where Jim discovers the secret map that leads to the mysterious Treasure Planet
, a place where Space Pirate Flint is thought to have stashed an unbelievable amount of treasure. With some help from Morph, Dr. Doppler and others, Jim will solve puzzles, race through challenging levels, evade pirates and make the trip to legendary Treasure Planet
Along the way, Jim and the crew will travel to a spaceport, commission a ship (sound familiar yet, Star Wars fans? ;) and make the trip to Treasure Planet against long odds. The dangers posed by space pirates are only part of the trouble Jim gets into, and each level is packed with challenges, rewards and danger. Although Dr. Doppler always has lot of stern warnings for Jim, there are just too many objects of interest out there, things you can destroy to earn special rewards and characters you'll encounter. The NPC (non-player character) interaction ranges from tough (but mostly silly) enemies to laugh-out-loud funny locals who give you tips or help you along the way. The goal is to gather certain items you'll use to unlock special features in the game. At times you'll be able to shoot objects in the level to earn credits and 'purchase' items, and sometimes you'll find fabled Treasure Planet Tokens hidden away in unlikely places. Every once in a while, a NPC will offer a challenge or quest, and if you're successful you might earn a Token that way also. The majority of levels are built around exploration and the kind of action/adventure easter-egg hunt that is often done but rarely done well.
Pacing is important in a game like this, and the way events are scripted does wonders for making Treasure Planet more playable. Morph, the little gadget that follows Jim around, can do a lot of cool things. It can give hints and tip Jim off to strategies he might use, and it can also form a sort of glider that helps Jim get down from high places or reach places he might find impossible to jump to normally. Just when you might be getting lost or bored, special challenges help to speed up the pace or Morph will chime in to let you know about something you can do at that time. Lots of little puzzles are found in the levels, from standard Platformer jumping or timed puzzles to more sophisticated puzzles that require Jim to gather items and use them as 'keys' for powered doors and machines. This stuff really keeps the game going, not to mention the little battles Jim gets into and the enemies he'll have to take out with his sword or musket.