Everybody loves the Toy Story movies, and we’re no exception. Woody, Buzz and the gang bring smiles to our faces just by showing up, and the first few minutes of Toy Story Mania did nothing to change that. A lovely opening cinema and a bright, bubbly menu screen based around Andy’s room had us feeling happy and hoping we’d stay that way.
Then the game started.
Without going overboard – to be fair, it’s not as if Mania is an utter abomination – let’s just say problems abound. The story, such as it is, centers around a carnival that all of the toys set up, featuring typical festival fare like shooting galleries, skee ball, ring toss, and so on. All promising enough, until we realized that every time you save the game and come back later, you have to start back at the beginning, no matter how far you’ve advanced. Really?
Putting the neverending story issue aside, how good are the minigames themselves? The answer is a resounding “meh.” Some are perfectly fine – particularly the smaller-sized ones – while others suffer from a combination of frustrating controls and confounding objectives. On more than one occasion, we were 100% positive we did exactly what we were told (such as hitting a certain number of items in a row) but never got credit for it. Other times, we furiously flicked the Wiimote to and fro while only occasionally having it recognize our actions. Frustrating, indeed.
Let’s be honest, though - most youngsters won’t voice these same complaints. They’ll simply enjoy the gorgeous cartoony landscape, spot-on voice impersonations, and quick pacing as they move from one game to another. They’ll also get a kick out of cashing in virtual tickets for prizes, and may even be able to see a difference in the handful of 3D games (2 sets of glasses are included) versus the normal ones – even if we barely could. They’ll leave the complaining for their grumpy Dad.
Ultimately, if your kids are in the 7-10 year old range, Toy Story Mania is in their wheelhouse. Savvier gamers will cringe, and the younger set will have too much difficulty with the controls and the objectives. It’s too bad, because with a few adjustments, it could’ve been something much better – and more appealing to everyone in the family.
Sep 30, 2009