‘Army Men’ marches to immortality

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Editor’s Note: This is an article in our ongoing “Great Video Game” series in which readers and staffers alike are asked to submit a few hundred words about a video game that they consider to be great. This week’s submission comes from online reader Sean Elliot.

By Sean Elliot
Guest Contributor

I leapt from my mother’s 1994 Mercury Villager, bounded for the front door, and with haste jumped the stairs to the room I shared with my younger brother. I had just returned from Blockbuster, my young mind’s pinnacle of joys — a reward for cleaning my room. I held the limited edition green case in my hands.

I shouted to my younger brother, “Get on AOL. Get on CheatCC.com!” When you’re 9-years-old, cheats are cool.

I cracked open the green case. I blew cool air into this fresh piece of plastic’s bottom. The cartridge fell into the game slot of my Nintendo 64 and I flipped that power switch into the on position. The slogan? “Real Combat. Plastic Men.”

“Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes” premiered in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 and the next year for the PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. The army men of “Toy Story” and the vengeful and destructive toys of “Small Soldiers” had inspired interactive entertainment. The classic plastic toys, of green and tan, had entertained children at their grandparents’ video game-free homes for centuries. Well, at least until the advent of Atari.

General Plastro, the bad guy, is burning all the green Army Men. General Plastro is a tan toy soldier. And, if the tan soldiers had not been your enemies as a child, this was a shock. In my mind, they had all been on the same side and stuffed animals were the enemy. The game drew the line early. After I got over my initial shock, I got back to combat.

This game was special. This game was a change of pace. I was an unstoppable force. Plastro stood no chance for this Sarge. I finished in a quick weekend.

Maybe it’s because I was 9-years-old, but I can’t remember any game where I felt so cool. My plastic toys which I melted with magnifying glasses, convinced dogs to eat, sawed in half, played baseball with, bruised, boiled and burned were there. This game played with that concept — the in-game “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” were actually a magnifying glass or another toy from the real world.

“Sarge’s Heroes” was a third-person shooter — a rarity in gaming, which is more accustomed to titles like “Doom.” This game spawned a sequel, “Sarge’s Heroes: 2” and a lesser-known title, “Portal Runner,” in addition to some lackluster knockoffs like “Toy Commander.”

Sarge and I were friends. He was cooler than any avatar you could find in “Kinect Sports.”

Does reading this article make you think of a video game that you consider great? Please send us an email at lariat@baylor.edu with a suggestion for a “Great Video Game.” Please include a few hundred words on why you consider your game to be great and you just might find your opinion here.