Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Game Review: Toy Story Mania

When I heard about Toy Story Mania coming to the Wii, I was pretty excited. The new game is based on the ride Toy Story Midway Mania at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. While there have been games before that have attempted to turn the theme park experience into a video game (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for the NES and Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour for the Playstation) Toy Story Mania promised to really bring a Disney World ride into my living room. If you haven't been on the Toy Story ride it's basically a ride that zips you around from screen to screen where you play very brief video game versions of popular midway games. (For more, you can check out a blog post I did when the ride opened at The Blog Wore Tennis Shoes.)

So, obviously when you play this new Wii version you're not going to be riding around, you'll most likely be sitting on your living room sofa. And also unlike the theme park attraction, you won't be waiting in line for at least an hour before your chance to play for a couple of minutes. Video games are designed to give you an experience that
will engage you for hours of game play. Toy Story Mania works hard to further the experience of the ride.

The games featured in the ride are faithfully recreated here. Almost all the games in the ride involve simply shooting or tossing things onto the screen to collect points as quickly as possible. The Wii adaptation also adds to the mix a set of additional objectives to each game. In addition to scoring a certain amount of points, there are more intricate goals like shooting five of the same target in a row, or looking for a special colored target or simply wiping out all of one kind of target. Completing all of the given objectives will unlock the game in a free play mode, otherwise you must experience the different games in a preselected lineup divided into five themes.

In addition to the shoot `em games from the ride, the game designers have added a handful of new games to the mix which use the Wii technology to their benefit. Some of these games have been thrown in to give the smallest of Wii players the chance to master a game. A few of the new games require nothing more than shaking the Wii remote to master the game. In one instance, Toy Story's resident swine Hamm is seen dancing on a stage and players are asked to mimic his actions by shaking their Wiimote in a certain direction. Even with the Wii controller sitting on a table in another room of the house, you're guaranteed to rack up a hefty amount of points. The games are pretty simple and not very challenging. Other new games like a labyrinth maze where you'll need to tilt your controller to move the maze table are quite unique.

All the gang from the Toy Story movies are here and each of the games fall into a theme connected to one of the characters. There's plenty of outer space fun with Buzz Lightyear and the aliens, Woody and Jessie host a variety of wild west games, Bo Peep, Rex, and most of the rest of the gang are all on hand as well. Some of the character voices are the same, most notably Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear but Tom Hank's brother Jim stands in to provide Woody's voice. Since many people have seen the Toy Story films numerous times over the years, the voice substitutes are quite noticeable.

There's also five 3-D games that you can unlock. The disc comes with two pairs of the old fashioned red-blue 3-D glasses. The effect is not nearly as effective as the polarized grey lens glasses used at the theme parks (and at the local multiplex).

While this new disc does transfer the imagery and the game play of the theme park ride very well, it does not give you the same overall experience. To achieve a complete experience like the ride you'll need to unlock all the shooting gallery style games and then set up your own lineup of games in the Free Play Mode.

Overall, it's a fun game - not really worth the $50.00 MSRP - but it's a good game for kids and fun disc to have at a party. The various games are all simple to learn and play. Those not looking to duplicate a recent vacation memory and more interested in playing with the Toy Story characters would probably be better off waiting for the Toy Story 3 game hitting shelves next summer with the release of the new movie.

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