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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 6, 2003
Just as Disney Studios has a reputation for family movie entertainment with an emphasis on children, so Disney Interactive has been known for releasing games for the same audience. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that Barking Dog Studios, known for developing Homeworld: Cataclysm, has created Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon, an action-strategy offering, for Disney Interactive. Based on both the great Robert Louis Stevenson novel, “Treasure Island,” and the newly released Disney film, “Treasure Planet,” this new game has quite a colorful backdrop. What you see also calls to mind SSI’s Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace, released in 1992.
The game’s story takes place five years after the movie ends. Young Jim Hawkins is about to become a lieutenant in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. After years of conflict, the Procyon Council has approached the Terran Parliament with an offer of peace. However, pirate ships known as Ironclads have been invading the Procyon Expanse, wreaking havoc. After his training ends, Hawkins rises through the ranks while fighting pirates. You soon discover that things aren’t quite as they seem, with the threat being greater than you originally thought, and you must avert a disaster and restore tranquility to the galaxy. The story is surprisingly deep, textured and engaging, drawing you into a fascinating clash of civilizations.
Battle at Procyon intriguingly embeds vessels and weaponry of 17th and 18th century pirates into a futuristic outer space realm. The Royal Navy operates very much as it does at sea, utilizing cannons and grappling lines, and consisting of huge, powerful and unwieldy craft as well as smaller, quicker ones. Over 30 unique ships, from a puny torpedo boat to a mammoth man-o-war, are available for your use and well-stocked with what you need to accomplish your missions. The Procyon fleet is particularly advanced technologically. You begin by commanding a single, relatively weak vessel. Fitting the spirit of rousing adventure, you can just get immersed in the patterns of life in the fantasy environment without having to worry about collecting resources or building factories.
The game’s physical setting is both beautiful and multifaceted. There are a variety of wonders and dangers: amazing meteor showers, black holes that could swallow you up, volcanic islands, majestic whales, fast moving storms, solar sail galleons and swirling nebulae that can drain your ship’s energy. Rather than traditional planets, you move through floating islands and nautical objects that seem to sail through space on invisible tracks. Within the expansive extraterrestrial void that we normally picture as rather empty, monotonous and silent, there’s never a dull moment.
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