All Buzzed Up with Nowhere to Go.
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 a sequel is coming out in time for
your holiday dollars, it only makes sense to make a game out of it. And the result?
You might like it… if you still actively and unashamedly play with toys. Otherwise,
you’re probably too grown up for it.
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
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.
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.
Even 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 holds up against the competition of Crash
Bandicoot and Spyro, but doesn’t hold a candle to
Pixar’s polished movie. Everything has a bright, slightly blocky look, but it’s
the Playstation’s age that really shows. The last stage does have a lot more graphical
oomph compared to the rest of the game, but the lightning effects fell just short
of giving me an epileptic seizure.
On the other hand, it feels like there’s a lot of bonus video for one game. Possibly because each clip is low res and blurry. With each level you beat, you get treated to another video made form choice cuts of the movie. But… Now I’ve completely spoiled the movie for myself.
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”. I also wouldn’t have kept playing if it weren’t for the video clips.
If you want to see video clips, go watch the actual movie – It will look better anyway. If you want a groundbreaking three-dimensional platformer, you’re still looking in the wrong place, bub. Little kids might be willing to look past the unoriginality and outdated gameplay… maybe they would even have some fun. But most kids, including those who are just kids at heart, would be smart enough to play elsewhere.