Houston, We Have a Problem.
Eagerly flipping on his Dreamcast, little Johnny Ogglesby, 9, is all smiles and
laughter. He can’t wait to start playing his brand new game. The Sega logo reflects
off his giant, goggle-sized glasses, and Johnny gets the slack-jawed, half-smiling,
half-yawning look known to very credible scientists as “The Gamer’s Stupor.” It
looks like it’s going to be a good day for Johnny.
Little does Johnny know, however, that he is about to be subjected to one
of the most ill-construed, disappointing games in the Dreamcast’s currently
short history. That game is Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.
Let us not confuse the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command with the Buzz
Lightyear of Toy Stories 1 and 2. The former is simply a children’s cartoon
based on the latter, and that’s who this game is based on. While both have the
same name and wear the same spiffy outfit, the similarities stop there.
In addition to the obvious graphical difference between the 3D Buzz from the
movies and the 2D Buzz from the TV show, the two differ greatly in their charm.While
Buzz of TS was voiced by the talented and somewhat criminal Tim Allen,
Buzz of SC is voiced by a no-talent voice actor, who is criminally boring.
My point? Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a lame, weak character whose
only hope lies in being confused for his predecessor.
Ten minutes later at little Johnny Ogglesby’s house, bedlam has broken loose.
“Why Mom? Why’d they do it to us?” little Johnny wails, his game face replaced by the scrunched, puffy grimace common amongst crying 3rd graders.
“We’ve been had Johnny, we’ve been had,” moans his mother as she attempts
to physically shelter Johnny from the evil hoax that is BL of SC.
“Look at those graphics, Ma. I mean yeah, there’s polygon shading, but that’s
just a term I don’t really even understand. The truth is the graphics suck (sob),
and they look like they could be done on a Playstation (sniffle), and even though
the colors are bright, all the characters lack detail and definition. The backgrounds
are so boring they might as well not even be there.”
“There were backgrounds?”
“Well, yeah, I think mom, I mean I don’t really remember, I was more focused on the crappy gameplay and ridiculous missions, and complete lack of coherent story line.”
“The play mechanics didn’t look that bad, Johnny. I mean, I saw you riding his little skateboard thing. That looked kinda fun, right?”
“Yeah mom, it was. For about 10 seconds. But the boards and bikes don’t go that fast, and there’s nothing in the environment that interacts with them in a meaningful or significant way other than jumps, and those are in every game that’s ever had a bike or a skateboard in it since the 80’s. Not that I’d know, since I’m only 9.
Besides, the rest of the time Buzz runs around like he’s got a hamster up
his ass. His one and only kind of jump goes far and get the job done, but I
expect a little more from an Intergalactic Space Ranger or whatever the hell
“Watch your mouth, young man!”
“Sorry mom. But I heard dad say it last night, so I figured…oh, anyways…so
then there’s Buzz’s strafing, which, other than running, jumping and shooting,
is all he can do…and it’s slow to the point of being useless.”
about the missions? Why were you chasing those bosses around?”
“I don’t know!!! (Wail) I just had to, and I couldn’t kill them ’til we got
to this “special” spot. I did figure a little out, though. In order to go to
a world you’ve got to have the number of medals the world requires. You get
the medals from collecting money, saving Little Green men, and killing the boss.
Each mission is introduced by a random clip from the cartoon show, which has
absolutely nothing to do with the game. Sometimes the damn things cut off in
the middle of a sentence!”
“Johnny, watch the language!”
“Oh, sorry. Anyway, the story doesn’t make any sense, and the missions are
repetitive and lame. Couple them with a short time limit and they go from boring
to impossible. You get some pretty cool guns, but you have to buy all of them,
which means you have to kill insane amounts of enemies, but in order to do that
you need the guns (pant). Why must everything have a price?!”
“Because if it didn’t, we’d be commies dear. And you know the saying, ‘Better
dead than red!'”
“Yeah, I guess. Maybe commies made this game to dishearten 9 year olds and
make parents bitter with the money hungry, irresponsible pigs who would have
to be responsible for this trash.”
“Sounds reasonable to me, dear. And have you been reading my dictionary again?”
“Yeah. Speaking of sound, mom, the voice acting is almost as insulting as
the random cartoon clips. First of all, Buzz’s voice in the game is different
than his voice in the cartoon clips. Like Activision doesn’t have the money
to get the same voice actor as the one who does the cartoon. They probably had
all the people who were coding the game do the voices, too. I mean, after all,
if you’re only releasing a game to make money, why spend more money on it than
you have to?”
“Because then you wouldn’t be a greedy, corporate snake praying on the wallets of single mothers and their impressionable children?”
“Exactly, mom. So what’s for dinner? I’m hungry as a motherfu…”
Indeed, Ms. Ogglesby. BL of SC is a fish hook with the mug of a well-known
and well-liked cartoon hero as the bait. This game makes a promise to kids,
and then, once bought, breaks that promise and replaces it with a crappy game.
Buzz Lightyear isn’t unplayable, and it definitely isn’t the worst game
ever made. But it is definitely a game that no one should ever buy, and I pity
those who are sucked in by the gimmick. I wish there really were a Buzz Lightyear,
because he would probably beat the crap out of the guys who made this game.