Easily the most over-used and watered-down license in recent
memory is 3DO’s Army Men series. 3DO have continually
released one Army Men game after another, including a mind-boggling
four Game Boy Color games and three different Army Men
games for the PS2 in just the month of March! Unfortunately, each of
these Army Men games has been average at best, with none really
meeting the enormous potential the premise (who doesn’t want to
control plastic army men?) provides.
With this in mind, I’m somewhat ambivalent towards 3DO’s
latest Army Men game, Army Men Advance. On the one
hand, "Army Men" usually equals "crap". On the
other hand, thus far this game looks to be one of the better GBA
games in development. Can it escape the Army Men curse?
The story should be familiar to anyone who has played previous Army
Men games. General Plasto, leader of the Tan Army, is once again
out to eliminate the Green Army. It will be your job to control
either Vicky (the female character featured in the Sarge’s Heroes
series) or Sarge and eliminate the Tan threat.
The gameplay in this title is straight-up action, but this time
things are presented from a top-down scrolling perspective (not
unlike Gun.Smoke in some areas). This game presents a total
of 17 levels, and these levels will be split up between two
different worlds: Plastic World and Human World. In Plastic World
you’ll be normal sized when compared to your environment, but in
Human World you’ll be extremely tiny when compared to the
environment (you are just a toy after all). And on par with other
Army Men games, you’ll also have an assortment of different
vehicles to control.
Fortunately, Army Men Advance doesn’t look anything like
the other Army Men games currently on the market. Whereas
other previous Army Men games have striven for "life-like"
plastic men and vehicles, Army Men Advance takes a more
cartoonish approach to the graphic design. The army men are all
dumpy, with helmets that cover half of their heads. The color
palette is bright and vivid, with a ton of detail and exaggerated
features that emphasize its cartoonish look.
Overall, it’s really hard to get excited about this game at
this point, even though it looks like it’s coming together really
well. 3DO have dumped so many Army Men games on the buying
public that the license just seems tired and weak. Hopefully Army
Men Advance will breath new life into a once-promising series.