Games made from movies… it makes a lot of sense. Lots of people watch movies.
Lots of people play video games. Hey! Let’s do some cross-marketing! Looks like
a good idea on paper, but its been proven wrong many, many times over (with a
few rare exceptions like Goldeneye). Movies based
on games are sometimes even worse. Remember the Mario Brothers’ movie? I know
I’m trying to forget it.
Toy Story… the first completely computer generated movie, a landmark film and
a toy advertising paradise. Now that the sequel is coming out in time for your
holiday dollars, it only makes sense to make a game out of it. And the result?
Well, after a hasty porting from Playstation to N64, you end up with a less then
stellar platformer, infected with blurry graphics, run-of-the mill play mechanics,
and choppy framerates.
The plot of the game follows the movie. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
Woody, the pullstring cowboy doll, has been kidnapped by a greedy toy collector
— the kind of guy that never opens the packages that his action figures came
in. Oh no! Those action figures might lose value. Boo-hoo… Anyway, Buzz Lightyear,
the Space Ranger, sets off to rescue his cowboy buddy.
Toy Story 2 is your basic, unoriginal three-dimensional platformer.
You control Buzz on his mission to locate the whereabouts of Woody. Each level
has five objectives that can be completed in any order you like. For every objective
you complete, you receive a Pizza Planet token. In order to proceed within the
game and move on to new levels, you must collect as many tokens as possible.
It’s the all too familiar Rare method of instilling replay value. Sometimes
it works, like in Tony Hawk’s
Pro Skater, and sometimes it doesn’t. In Toy Story 2, you’ll just want
to get rid of all your objectives at once, so you won’t have to repeat tasks.
Most objectives require you to find all the hidden objects scattered about the stage; things like Bo Peep’s Sheep or Mr. Potato Head’s missing mouth. Other times, some other Toy Story character will challenge you to some kind of race. An objective common to all levels is to find 50 coins and give them to the piggy bank, Hamm. Never seen that before.
Most levels feature fairly clever designs; there’s a clear, logical process to retrieving the missing objects. Nothing phenomenally new, but at least it isn’t just completely random. Perhaps the best part of the game is that all of the levels are seen from a “toy-sized” view, offering an interesting perspective on everyday environments.
Buzz’s control is fairly tight in its simplicity. Everything is pretty standard to the platform style game: run and jump. Buzz also has a “double jump” move where he extends his wings during his jump. It even has a little click sound when his wings shoot out. You also have the run of the mill spin attack and your “laser” to fight the evil Zurg toys (the arch nemesis of the Space Rangers) that seem rampant everywhere.
The camera works fine, but not great; you choose from either an active or passive system. The active system has the camera automatically position itself to face Buzz’ back. Expect moments of pause while you wait for the ole’ camera to catch up. The passive system has you manipulating the camera yourself. Oh, how I miss the “camera-behind” button of Zelda and other better games.
worse is that when you are battling boss characters, the camera decides to always
point directly at your opponent. Rather than being helpful, it’s more of an issue
of fighting the camera than fighting the boss.
Graphically, the game graphics are blurred, lacking the sharpness its Playstation
brethren had. After playing the graphically beautiful Donkey
Kong 64, Toy Story 2 felt even that much more dwarfed in this area
— its as if the makers didn’t even try to tune it up. And the low, low framerates
give it that strobe-light distinction that I’m sure all the game makers are striving
The Playstation version also had FMV going for it, offering a chance to see
all the best clips from the film. The N64 offers very low resolution still shots
with the story written out textually. Gee, they really went the distance there.
Expect the usual bubble-gum kitsch fare for music. Some levels have really
short music loops that will get really annoying. There are also loads of voice
samplings. As much as I like the first Toy Story, the voices also got irritating
to me after awhile. Jessie, a new character in the sequel, sounds rather mannish
in the game. Like really mannish. A deep baritone, “Hey Buzz…” will alert you
to her presence.
The game is obviously geared towards a younger crowd, with its direct objectives
and translation of the movie. But there are a few harder challenges for better
gamers. Personally, I felt the only thing the game really has going for itself
is the whole Toy Story license. I would never have kept playing if it had been
called “Mr. Space-Dude and his Cowboy Friend”.
If you want a groundbreaking three-dimensional platformer, you’re looking in the
wrong place, bub. Closest thing to that for the N64 now is Donkey Kong 64.
Even the most fanatic of Toy Story fans will see straight through this game…
the unoriginality and outdated-ness coupled with the poor graphics and weak framerate
send this straight to the bargain bins. If you want to follow the exploits of
Buzz Lightyear, go watch the movie and leave this one at the toy store.