Monday, 25 November 2013

Retrospective: Team Buddies (Ps1)

Story
One fine and sunny day in the land that Buddies roam, there was a great and mighty disco in a tent. This tent would bob up and down with the music. All of a sudden, a large, flat, grey, flying THING blocked out the sun (The Great Eclipse) and began to drop crates. These crates were filled with all sorts of goodies such as Uzis and Bazookas. Inevitably, chaos broke out and the buddies became segregated according to color...
...and with that the game begins. The story does open up a lot when playing through the games campaign which was suprising for me the first time around. Its nothing fanciful but it does more than good enough of a job for a game of this type.

The gameplay is a mashup of Worms style humor and real-time strategy mechanics. Central to victory is the ability of a team of buddies to stack crates on a pad located near your base. Stacking the crates in different ways make different items when break the crate ie a single crate creates an Uzi, filling the pad completely creates a vehicle. Also, most vehicles can carry two crates, some can carry three, to help with the building preocess. Do you equip your squad first or build a Tank to harvest crates & provide firepower? Thats the coice you have. Up to three Buddies can be created by stacking crates directly on top of each other and these can be given simple commands like Attack/Defend/Harvest. You can freely swap between you Buddies too. Another key aspect is your large base building. If this is destroyed, the stacking pad for that team can no longer be used, making destroying & defending your own base a top priority for ensuring victory. No pad means no weapons/Buddies/Vehicles can be created and you have to rely on salvaging from enemies. Maps tend to typically have one main point where the crates drop to ensure some carnage during the game, but they will also be found sprinkled around the map. As well as the standard red crates, rare blue crates can also drop that will boost the abilities of whatever it is you decide to build. Mega-crates can also drop too that give you the ability to build something not usually found in that level. Where the game really comes into its own is in 4-player split screen. Most levels and game modes have to be unlocked by playing through the campaign though with only a single map & Deathmatch available at the beginning.
One of the best aspects of Team Buddies is the style and voice acting. The EU version of the game in particular (The US version features censorship) gave each character class different their own identities, and also provided each multiplayer team color its own nationality; for example blue team are stereotypical English. All the buddieshave pill-shaped bodies and disjointed limbs reminiscent of Rayman. Levels are brightly colored and gain most of their detail through detailed texturing. The simple, cartoonish aesthetic really drives home the fun aspect of the game and gives it an unsually detailed look for a Ps1 game. The level can also be slighty deformed from explosions and trees etc can also be destroyed, giving the levels a slight sandbox battlefield vibe. No doubt the voice acting will have those among you who enjoyed the likes of Hogs of War showing your appreciation. The presentation overall is superb, to be expected I suppose from Psygonsis on Ps1 

Rarity: Team Buddies was not popular upon release, receiving a very limited release and as such is not widely available. Despite being relatively unknown upon release, the game developed a considerable cult following over time. Nowadays, the game is considered one of the rarest and most difficult games to find for the PlayStation, mostly due to a small number of available copies, especially ones made for the U.S. market. Prices vary considerably, ranging anywhere from $70 to $200 for a NTSC version and £50- £70 for a PAL version, depending on the retailer. (Wikipedia)
Personally this is one of my faviroute mulplayer titles from the days when the milti-tap was king. IT was nice to look at and wacky to watch, but above all it was fun to play. The game really came to life in multiplayer. Its unfortunate that the game is such a rarity these days though. I may one day just have to bite the bullet and grab a copy for about £50 from Ebay. Still, get a few friends around, few beers & a takeaway and you'll be in for one hell of an old-school fun night. Gaurunteed.

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