Summary Stop Dr. X and Professor Gangrene from taking over the world by going on dangerous missions across cities, desserts, and Arctic environments.
Description Type: Action
Platform: Playstation One
Players: 1 Player
Age: 3 plus
Developer or Designer: Blitz Games
Aerial view driving
Poor radar system
Repeats mission objective several times before starting
Movies often have all sorts of memorabilia to go with it, such as toys and video games, and are usually pretty successful. The reverse is usually less so. For example, video games that are turned into movies, often don't do very well. So you can imagine how I might feel about someone taking a popular children's toy, and then turning it into a movie, television series, and video game. Well that's exactly what Blitz Games did with Palitoy's Action Man.
The Action Man toy was first released in 1966 as the British equivalent of America's G.I. Joe. The character started off as a military figure featuring in professions such as soldier, sailor, and pilot.
However, between 1993 - 2006, Action Man under went a makeover. He was turned into a civilian adventurer, well-versed in all sorts of sports and martial arts. A television series called Operation Extreme was then made in which he became a kind of pseudo superhero, in which he underwent secret genetic experiments to give him unique abilities to fight bad guys such as evil scientists like Dr. X and Professor Gangrene.
In 2000, a video game spin off was made based on the series called Mission Extreme. Made exclusively for the Playstation One, you take on the role of Alex Mann, AKA, Action Man. You start off in his apartment, where you can access a variety of customisable features, including your basic sound options and difficulty levels to more interesting things such as a cheat menu, wardrobe (yep,you can play dress up with this muscle bound hero), and trunk, which somehow is able to fit all of the vehicles you've unlocked inside.
As you explore these options, you can enjoy some rather atmospheric music that does have an almost James Bond like quality to it.
Unfortunately this is where the praise ends. Once you enter gameplay, things go rapidly downhill. There are two types of missions you can go on: action (on foot) and vehicle (driving cars, boats, helicopters, etc). I would have liked these to have been separated, so you can choose which to play, but sadly you have to complete every mission in sequence before being able to access the next.
The first mission is a vehicle mission, in which your objective is repeated several times before starting - just in case you have a short term memory. The aim is to find Professor Gangrene's minions and stop (I.E. destroy) them from attacking the city. Considering Action Man is meant to be a British character, it's strange that the city looks very American.
In the cut scenes, Action Man's Silver Slicker car looks pretty impressive, but once in gameplay that all changes. For some reason the developers decided to show all the action from an aerial point of view rather than from the driver's seat, meaning that the car looks like one of those mini Scalextric toys.
The controls are awful as the car has no traction, meaning you go sliding across the road this way and that. It isn't helped by the fact that your radar system keeps sending you down dead ends or crashing into blockades.
Because everything is shown from above, you can never see what is coming up ahead, so when you eventually do find an enemy car, it whizzes past you out of sight before you can do anything. The only way to destroy the cars is by firing aimlessly, hoping you'll hit the off-screen target.
The Action missions are admittedly better. It is a third person shooter, but you can see in first person when targeting. There are various weapons and devices you can scroll through to defeat enemies and find hidden objects. The graphics, though pixilated, are an improvement on the vehicle missions, and no worse than about average in terms of other games of this era.
Overall, it can provide some entertainment, but the frustrating controls and repetitive mission objectives means that you will probably be bored after a half hour's play.