Treasure Planet may not be the next Homeworld, but it's short and sweet--just not very deep.
In the past, computer games based on Disney movies have usually been little more than children's games designed to quickly cash in on the success of the films themselves, without offering much value for serious gamers. But somewhere along the way, Disney Interactive decided that games based on Disney licenses should appeal to more than just 10-year-olds. And so, the most recent Disney-based game actually offers more than previous lightweight Disney games. In fact, Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon, based on the Disney animated motion picture Treasure Planet, is indeed a "real" game from Barking Dog Studios, the same developer that created Homeworld: Cataclysm. It's a natural fit, because the movie is an adventure set in space. And while the style of Treasure Planet favors 18th-century space galleons over the futuristic spaceships of Homeworld, the backdrop is still the same: vast seas of black space, swirling nebulae, and treacherous asteroid archipelagos. And the general idea is the same as well: Take control of space ships and blast away at enemy vessels until you save the universe from the clutches of evil.
Treasure Planet actually takes place five years after the events in the movie. You play as the main character from the film, Jim Hawkins, who has finally realized his lifelong dream of joining the Imperial Navy. You begin the game on the day of Jim's final exams at the naval academy. If he can complete the final exercise, he becomes a full-fledged lieutenant in Her Majesty's Service. Just in time too, because the galaxy is undergoing some important changes that require a more vigilant and dedicated navy than ever before. The Terran Empire is on the cusp of a peace treaty with the Procyon Empire, but space pirates have made space travel dangerous for both of these former enemies. So, young Lieutenant Hawkins is thrust into action as soon as his training ends, and he begins his career hunting pirates and keeping the peace.
However, a few missions into the 12-mission single-player campaign you soon discover that a menace greater than pirates is threatening the galaxy. Mysterious alien ships called Ironclads, which look like industrial, steel-plated submarines, have been ravaging Procyon space, and as a gesture of solidarity, the Terran Queen has sent her navy to help battle this Ironclad menace. Meanwhile, coincidentally, a Procyon fleet is en route to the heart of Terran territory to finalize the peace treaty. That conveniently leaves Jim pretty much alone in Terran space to battle pirates, as well as to extend a cautious welcome to the suspicious Procyon visitors and also to investigate alarming rumors that Ironclads have secretly penetrated the heartland of the Terran homeworlds. The game's story is simple and has predictable plot twists. You find out eventually that friends aren't really friends and enemies aren't really enemies. But at first, everything is fairly straightforward, and you merrily gun down pirate ships and ironclads with your cannons, lasers, and torpedoes.
Like the movie, Treasure Planet has an unusual setting--one that combines 18th-century European battleships with spaceships and futuristic weaponry. Rockets and lasers sit alongside cannons and sails on galleons, sloops, and men-of-war. In fact, Treasure Planet plays more like a sea-ship simulator than a space game; it isn't another Homeworld. The action takes place on a 2D plane, and you can't even rotate the camera up and down along the Z-axis to get views of the underbellies or roofs of ships. Instead of planets, you sail alongside islands that float in the void. You'll even see schools of alien fish and space whales swim by your fleet. In fact, if you swapped out Treasure Planet's black space for blue water, you'd have a naval game--but the space setting is charming and consistent enough to suspend your disbelief, as long as you keep in mind that the game is based on a cartoon movie.