What kid hasn’t dreamed about his or her toys springing to life, each one featuring their own unique personality and special ability? G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have been our toys of choice as kids, but as adults, we are proud that today’s youth are drawn to cloth-body cowboy and a plastic-spaceman action figure. Perhaps we sound a bit old, but kids these days spend too much time with their MyBooks and iFeels. Therefore, we couldn’t be happier that a whole new generation of kids are being introduced to the wonderful world of toys – plain and simple toys.
OK, that may have been a bit rough on kids. After all, we’re pretty much obsessed with technology and mind-dulling video games. Somehow the creators of Toy Story 3: The Video Game have managed to blend today’s technology with yesterday’s wholesome fun. And what may be the biggest surprise, this is a game based (loosely) on the movie of the same name. It’s pretty much a fact that games based on movies fail, but Toy Story 3 succeeds in offering nearly every gamer a truly enjoyable experience.
The game’s story mode follows Andy’s toys, mainly Woody, Buzz, and Jessie, with a lose tie-in to the actual movie. While the vast majority of the story mode’s eight levels consist of basic platforming, you’ll also get the chance to fly around as Buzz, ride the rails, and even do some entertaining mini-games like racing or discovery quests. This is one of the shortest story modes in gaming; expect to breeze through this quest in roughly four to six hours.
The controls and camera can be a bit difficult, to say the least. During some of the platforming elements, we found ourselves cursing way more than we should at what is essentially a kids’ game. The reason is pretty simple: when jumping from a ledge, particularly a moving ledge, the camera occasionally changes perspective, meaning you have to change the way you are going to jump to the next ledge. Sure we got frustrated with these moments, but it didn’t stop us from having a good time. In addition, there are no penalties for dying. In fact, there are plenty of checkpoints to keep you on track. When you do die, you’ll restart at the checkpoint with full health, and any collectable you’ve received stays in your possession.
The biggest selling point to Toy Story 3 is the Toy Box, which to our surprise shares elements of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. In Toy Box, developer Avalanche Productions gives players an open world as seen through the eyes of toys. That means you’ll play as Woody, Buzz, Jessie or Zerg in a Western-themed sandbox, with plenty of quests and activities to push that the few hours in the story into a full-fledged roamer.
Toy Box does not follow the movie, so instead of following through various plot points, you simply play as the Sheriff, and are tasked with helping other toys. There’s plenty to do as sheriff outside of questing. Kids will particularly enjoy all the customization available, including moving and decorating buildings, and dressing up land’s characters. This isn’t something we cared much for, but we know some gamers love these sorts of activities. Since you can play split screen, you can let your partner go dress up a character while you go wrestle up some cattle or go on a little race. As you complete a quest, more quests open, giving that GTA or RDR feeling.
The game does a wonderful job of capturing the Toy Story world. The movies maintain a huge following worldwide and this game is nearly as enjoyable as the movies. The graphics are top-notch and the music is just wonderful. We absolutely love Randy Newman’s work in the movies, and his songs translate so well into the game. The voice acting is also splendid, with many of the movie’s cast providing their talents.
It should go without saying that this isn’t really a title that has a lot of legs for the seasoned gamer. The story mode is abundantly lacking in longevity, and the Toy Box isn’t likely to distract you for too long. Nonetheless, Toy Story 3 is a fundamentally solid platform experience that kids should instantly lap up, and despite its shortcomings, should offer something for gamers of all ages. If you long for the days of playing toys in your room at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, you are going to feel right at home with Toy Story 3.