Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Retrospective: Army Men Series

Today Im going nostalgic. Like really nostalgic. The series Im gonna do a post on today was pretty much universally panned (aside from a few notable releases) but nevertheless managed to build a cult following. And why not? Back in my day all the kids played with army men at some point. Not sure about the young uns today, but it was sort of like a right of passage back then. Those were the days, building battlefields in the back garden and ignoring your mum shouting you in for your tea as there's still a few stragglers holed up to take care of. Good Times. So what about the games?
Army Men is a series of video games developed by 3DO and Global Star Software. It is based on various conflicts between four kinds of plastic army men, distinguished by their colour: the Green, the Tan, the Blue, and the Grey. Two other factions, the Red and the Orange, as well as a much smaller army, the Black, also contribute to the story. Two additional factions, the Galactic Army and the Alien Army, were introduced in Army Men: Toys in Space. (Wikipedia)

Notable titles in the series:
  • Army Men (1998 - PC/GBC) The first game of the series. It was originally released for PC, then was later ported to Game Boy Color. Regarded as a classic by fans & reviewers alike.
  • Army Men Air Attack (1999 - Ps1/N64/PC) Featuring a different cast & gameplay to the rest of the series. Similar to the Strike series released by EA (One of my personal faves) Levels play out in 'Big world' within gardens etc
  • Army Men: Sarges Heroes (1999 - PC/Ps1/N64/Dreamcast) This is the first game in the series to appear on Nintendo 64 or Dreamcast & also the first proper introduction of the 'Sarge' character and General Plastro.
  • Army Men 3D (1999 - Ps1) This title is a 3-dimensional remake of the original "Army Men" game.
  • Army Men: Sarges Heroes 2 (2000 - Ps1/Ps2/GBC/N64) A sequel to Sarge's Heroes. Continues with Sage's story while introducing some new story mechanics for the 'Plastic world' & 'Big world'
  • Portal Runner (2001 - Ps2/GBA) Not a good title in the series by any means, but notable for the then CEO of 3DO, Trip Hawkins, emailing Gamepro for awarding the game a 2.3 score (Full Story)
  • Army Men RTS (2002 - Ps2/Gamecube/PC) This game was one of the last Army Men titles released before The 3DO Company filed for bankruptcy. This Army Men game is a 3D Real Time Strategy title that differs from other releases due to this approach. Another one of my personal faves to be honest.
  • Army Men Sarge's War (2004 - PC/Ps2/Xbox/Gamecube) The last Sarge title. The game was  developed by the 3DO Company, but after 3DO filed for bankruptcy, the game was purchased, completed, and released by Global Star Software. The game's tone is darker and more realistic than its predecessors.
  • Army Men: Mobile Ops (2010 - Mobile) The newest game in the series brings back the original story: the war between the Green and the Tan army. Didn't see a release on any other platform.
There is a fan made iteration released in 2013 on PC called Army Men 3. Might be worth checking out. 

 End of 3DO
Army Men: RTS was the last Army Men game to be released by the 3DO Company before they filed for chapter eleven bankruptcy. The major franchises were auctioned off, and Army Men was purchased by Global Star Software (now known as 2K Play).
In 2004, Global Star published Sarge's War. The PS2 and Xbox versions were completed by some members of the original Sarge's War development team from 3DO. Global Star then released Army Men: Major Malfunction for the Xbox (as well as for the PlayStation 2 in limited region), and planned a Nintendo DS version, which was not released. Army Men: Mobile Ops is currently the latest game in the series. Future instalments are possible, but unlikely, due to the poor critical and commercial performance of Major Malfunction and Soldiers of Misfortune. (Wikipedia)

While not the best games of the subsequent generations they were in, almost everyone will have at least one title from the many releases that leaves them nostalgic. No doubt the games got worse as time went on with 3DO eventually going under, but the reputation the Army Men series has is a little undeserved. No, they were never AAA titles but then they were never trying to be either and were clearly aimed at the budget range. I may look for some of the later titles to see how they hold up for anyone else feeling nostalgic. What was your favourite in the series, if you have one?

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