Also available on Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 is a game with which I'm quite familiar on Nintendo 64, and unlike the last three Army Men games that I've reviewed for Game Boy Color, I've actually had the Game Boy Color port of this since I was a kid. I remember getting it in my Easter basket when I was eight or nine years old and being SO excited to play it but being rather disappointed when I did because I had no concept of hardware capabilities or that the Game Boy Color was capable of significantly less than the Nintendo 64. Going back through it as an adult, however, it's become clear to me that I was disappointed in all the wrong things. Not that there aren't things that disappoint in this game - there are many - but none of those stuck out to me as a kid.
One of the first things that stuck out to me was what a drastic departure this game is from the story of the original console version. I expected a significantly slimmed down version like I saw in Army Men and Army Men: Air Combat or even a story somewhat loosely based on the original game like I saw in Army Men 2, but this is completely unrelated for the most part. The only thing it really has in common with the console versions of Sarge's Heroes 2 is the characters and the nebulous goal of "Defeat General Plastro." Otherwise it's totally different. No portal to the "real" world even though that's literally what's on the cover. No real interaction with half of Bravo squad. No mention of the Blue Army or their femme fatale spy Bridgette Blue. I could handle a super watered down rendition of the story, but not even trying to keep the storyline common was a letdown.
Of the four Game Boy Color Army Men games that I've played, I'd say that - in general - Sarge's Heroes 2 looks the best. The vehicle models aren't the most attractive, but the game overall has a pretty good look to it. Unfortunately this seems to come with a hit to performance. The game didn't just slow down; it absolutely chugged in places. While this generally seemed to happen around areas with a lot of Tan units to destroy, there would be other times that it seemed to drag for no apparent reason as well as times with a fairly large number of enemies but no evident delay. It was curious and frustrating, but it wasn't frequent or severe enough to be game-breaking. Definitely worth noting as a con but not something that would ruin an otherwise great game (if this were such a game).
I mentioned in my other Army Men GBC reviews that music tended to get annoying repetitive. Apparently 3DO's solution to this issue was to take the music out entirely. Now the game has an uncomfortable silence broken only by the repetitive sound of your weapons - PFOOSH PFOOSH PFOOSH PFOOSH. It's not exactly an improvement. There are also no voice clips aside from the "URAGH!" of a Tan soldier's death, but that's so distorted that it hardly even sounds like a scream. All in all, the sound design is an even bigger disappointment than the story.
With a poor storyline, horrendous sound, and lackluster performance, surely the gameplay itself is good, right? Well...kind of. The control is decent enough, and the missions are pretty fun. There are several missions, however, that require that you switch between a boat and a tank several times, and this switch is extremely finicky. You press Select to switch when you're in proximity of the other vehicle, but it's apparently a VERY precise distance. Stay too far away, and it obviously won't work. Get too close, and it won't work. You have to be JUST close enough but not TOO close, and there doesn't seem to be an enormous amount of consistency as to exactly how close or far you need to be from one instance to the next. The missions also vary wildly in length. I'd be finishing the early missions in two or three minutes whereas some of the later missions would take me upwards of twenty minutes. I'm all for having missions get more difficult and longer as the game progresses, but to go from a minute and a half to twenty minutes seems a bit excessive.
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes 2 on Game Boy Color isn't the worst of the four main series Army Men games on the platform, but it is the second worst after only Army Men. It's a shame, too, because it had potential. Had they just tried to follow even the more major events of the console games' story and gotten some of the performance issues hammered out, it would have been a genuinely good handheld experience. As it is now, however, it serves only to sit on a shelf and disappoint Army Men fans hoping to experience Sergeant Hawk's exploits on the go.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.