System – Dreamcast
Release – 1999
Japanese Name – Toy Ranger
Genre – Action
Rating – Everyone
Unless you was around for the Dreamcast launch, you probably don’t know what Toy Commander is. Toy Commander takes you back to your childhood where toy cars, army men, tables and your cat all became toys. Take your army men, line them up to guard the door. Grab your toy Jeep and race it off and over the stairs, crash landing at the bottom. Power slide it around the corner straight at the army men. Swerve out of the way of their bullets, OH NO! A giant cat as come along, drive round him, missing his paws. Quick drive up the wall and fly over the army men. Yes! You’ve made it into the base.
Toy Commander has you controlling a range of toys from cars to air planes to fight off the evil toys. Each area is based on a room in a house, such as the living room, bedroom or attic and each contains a number of missions. These range from getting a vehicle up to a high place, to dropping lumps of sugar into coffee to destroying the enemy base.
It’s you versus the toys, pencils become bullets, rubbers become bombs, ramps let you drive up walls and so on. The game has some great physicals for it’s time. Drive into a ball and it won’t sit there like a solid object but it’ll move and bounce naturally. This is key to some missions, in how you interact with your environment. There is five different types of vehicle in the game. Car, which generally raced around. Armed ground vehicles such as tanks or trucks with rocket launchers so you could destroy everything, helicopters for flying around and carrying objects, planes for shooting down the enemy toys and transport vehicles for transporting other objects.
There is lots to do and no two missions are ever the same, thanks to the way the landscape in each room constantly changes, add in some time trial modes and there is a lot to keep you busy. Oh and we can’t forget the four player multiplayer mode which is all death match. Not the greatest multiplayer mode in a game, but certainly worthwhile.
Graphically the game hasn’t aged at all. It has a nice clean cartoony look which is based in reality. Frame rates always stay high and there is lots of nice particle effects going on. You’ll find everything is extreamly colourful and full of detail. Textures are nice and sharp and there is no pop up to be found. There is always tonnes going on, on screen, loads of vehicles flying or moving around, animals and the house feels alive. It’s a bit like Toy Story, everyone leaves the room and the toys come out to play.
Sound wise the game draws you in through quiet music and nice sound effects. It doesn’t take you out of the game with over powerful rock music, but general background noise, making you really feel like you are there running around with an air plane in your hand throwing rubbers at teddy’s.
So what made us include this in the list of 50 games you must play before you die. Because there really isn’t another game quite like it. The developers (of Little Big Adventure Fame) have taken the core gameplay and polished it to perfection. It really does draw you in and feel like you are six again, something you can’t say about many games out there. So if you never owned it or had a dreamcast, buy it. Buy it now and enjoy a whole weekend with this wonderful game.
But wait, there’s more! The Christmas 2000 issues of The Official DC magazine in the UK and US came with a whole Toy Commander Christmas themed level. Where you must save Christmas by playing as a toy Santa. Graphically it’s more of the same – but with a wonderful Christmas feeling – but for a free level, it’ll pass a few more hours and give you a bit more enjoyment from this wonderful game.
But that’s not all! No Cliche – the developers – even released a follow up called Toy Racer. For £5 you’d get a few levels all based around racing. The house was turned into a full on race track and came complete with offline 4 player mode and 4 player online racing. At the time, some of your money went to charity too. Bargain!