Friday, July 2, 2010

Toy Story Video Games


In the Holidays of 1995, Disney and Pixar released Toy Story and the world bathed in the glory of the cutting edge 3D computer-generated animation that brought Andy's toys to life. Riding the seemingly unstoppable hype train, Disney Interactive released video game adaptations of the film on the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, and Windows 95 on April 25th, 1996.


Most kids played the SNES or the Genesis version of the game, which, like other contemporary movie-based games like Aladdin and The Lion King, was a good old fashioned platformer. With over a dozen stages based on scenes from the film, gamers were able to enjoy the central plotline and characters from the movie along with fluid platforming.

Well, that last part isn't as true nowadays. We went back and played the Toy Story on the SNES and weren't all that impressed. Unlike the Aladdin and Lion King games, which are still enjoyable, Toy Story seems sluggish and poorly designed. Then we popped in the Game Boy version and that's even worse. It's still worth playing just for the unbeatable nostalgia factor, but it's not the kind of SNES or Genesis game that we'd regularly revisit. However, as far as movie-based games go, it's still pretty good--but considering the standard, that's not saying much.


With the second movie, released in theaters on November 24th, 1999, came a second game. Like most big movie tie-ins, the game, Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue, came out before the film. The Nintendo 64 version hit store shelves on November 17th and the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions came out, respectively, on November 30th, 1999, and June 30th, 2000. It also came out for the Game Boy Color, but the title was completely different from its console counterparts.

Like its predecessor, the Toy Story 2 game seemed pretty cool at the time, especially for kids. Unfortunately, having just played the N64 version, I have to say that it's decidedly average. At a time when there were many platformers with better controls and more interesting level design, the only thing that Toy Story 2 had going for it was the license. In 2010, the game seems downright primitive, with aggravating controls and repetitive gameplay.


Toy Story 3 is now in theaters, receiving rave reviews just like the first two. Obviously, Disney Interactive released a video game adaptation across every current platform in order to cash-in.

Review scores are all over. Some think that the game is excellent (though it is judged by movie-based games standards), and others find it lacking. I've only played the PS3 version, and I have to say that I was not impressed at all. I can understand a kid enjoying it, but it's not recommended playing for the modern manchild. The Toy Story universe will always tickle our nostalgia-bone, but that's hardly enough to justify a purchase. Gameplay-wise, it doesn't impress. There isn't a single aspect of gameplay that hasn't been done better in another title.

However, this wasn't exactly unexpected. The game was designed for children, and any older gamer will tell you that the standard difficulty curve has taken a steep dive in the past 20 years. Those who were weathered on punishing titles like those in the Contra series will find that modern kid's games have nothing that even resembles a challenge. Younger players, even those who still have hand-eye coordination issues, should derive a lot of enjoyment from any version of the Toy Story 3 video game. But if you have even one iota of experience and skill, it will bore you to tears. It's too easy, too basic, and offers little variety. Die-hard fans of the series will be able to subsist solely on the characters, but the game is certainly not a revolution in movie-based titles.

Toy Story Racer and Toy Story Mania were intentionally ignored.

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