With a third movie in the works and a 3D adaptation of the original two films on its way into theaters, Buzz, Woody, and the whole Toy Story gang have leapt headfirst back into the public consciousness. Into this fray, Disney Interactive Studios has launched Toy Story Mania for the Wii, a collection of carnival style minigames based on the Disney theme park attraction. While some of the games may prove entertaining in brief spurts for the games target demographic, a lack of variety, some nagging technical issues, and a general lack of polish unfortunately leaves these toys on the shelf collecting dust.
Toy Story features some of the most memorable characters in animation, and most of your favorites are on display here. The game features levels themed around Buzz, Woody, Bo Peep, Ham and Rex, and the Army Men. Some of the voice actors from the film reprise their roles here, however Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are noticeably (though understandably) absent.
The game features 25 different minigames all based around carnival style attractions like shooting galleries, ring toss games, and even skee-ball. While this makes for a great bullet point on the back of the box, in practice the game inflates this number by making many of these games simple variations of the shooting gallery premise. Sure, you might be throwing darts or eggs instead of actually shooting, but the gameplay method is exactly the same. This leaves only about 10 actual game types, which means that you’ll end up repeating very similar games over and over during your trip through the game. There are some fun games to be found here however, including a shell game variation and the aforementioned Skee-ball.
The game features a Story Mode (somewhat misleading considering the only real “story” to be found here is that the Toy’s have set up a carnival in Andy’s room) as well as a Free Play mode which allows you to play any of the games you’ve unlocked thus far. You’ll have to unlock most of these 25 games by one of two methods. The story mode option allows you to play through games in sets, earning tickets and unlocking games as you go.
When each game begins, you’ll be given a list of objectives to complete in order to earn more tickets and advance to the next level. Each game requires a certain number of objectives to be completed in order to unlock the minigame for Free Play. Mostly these objectives are something simple, like reach a certain high score or shoot x number of specific targets. Occasionally however these objectives ask the player to complete more obscure tasks that may prove difficult for the younger gamers this title is aimed towards.
In addition to the standard games, TSM also features some games that are in 3D. The game comes with two pairs of the old school red and blue 3D glasses in order to experience these games, however they are only rehashes of games you’ve played previously. In addition, the 3D doesn’t really work that well. I didn’t notice a perceptible 3D effect while playing the games, and neither did my wife (whom I forced the second set of glasses on to make sure my eyes had not betrayed me).
The other way players can unlock new games is by purchasing them with tickets earned while playing the various games. These tickets allow you to not only purchase games you haven’t beaten yet, but also various Toy Story related items including new stickers for a virtual sticker album. While not appealing to most gamers my age, the sticker book should prove fun for younger players to collect and arrange.
Unfortunately even if there were more variety to be found here, the actual gameplay suffers from technical issues that bring the whole experience down. The game features an on screen reticule for aiming while playing the shooting gallery style games. This reticule has a tendency to disappear in the background occasionally however, making it nearly impossible to aim. Also, the motion controls in many of the other games feel somewhat sluggish and unresponsive. Last but not least, while the presentation of the in game menu’s does a great job matching the look and feel of the Toy Story franchise, their actual implementation is a poorly constructed and confusing jumble of unlabeled choices.
Unfortunately Toy Story Mania squanders its substantial potential through poor design choices and technical issues. While younger players may enjoy some of the games on display here for a while, eventually their repetitive nature will wear thin on even the most enthusiastic Toy Story fan. If you have young children who love the Toy Story universe, the game may be worth a rent. However, more discerning gamers should pass on TSM in favor of one of the better minigame collections on the system.