The toys are back in town.
Hold onto your hats, ladies and gents, for GR Karts-a-rama, the ultimate
in kart racing. Why come out with our very own kart racer, you ask? Because every
possible label and license has a contractual obligation to drive little cars through
a host of thematic worlds, of course!
Skid through the forests of Belgium, plod through the remnants of an economy
torn Silicon Valley, and spend some time monkeying around the fabulous GR compound
and casino! Race as Ben, Brian, Duke or Shawn in what is sure to be the best
kart racer of all time. Do well, and you’ll even unlock the infamous “bathroom”
Okay, so maybe this GR kart racer isn’t such a hot idea, but if you’ve got
a hankering for racing magic, there’s plenty out there to whet your appetite.
Kart racers have become one of the most overinflated, derivative game genres
around. A change in décor and bitmaps, and wham! Another kart racer is born.
Case in point – Toy Story Racer, an average kart racer that utilizes
the Toy Story characters. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but
somehow those wacky Toy Story folks got their grubby mitts on some toy cars.
And having nothing better to do, they decided to race them around.
The single-player game force feeds you with endless repetition. Every level
is similar, with the exception of a few different goals. One goal could be to
complete 3 laps against 5 competitors, while another goal could be 5 laps against
3 competitors. Who is the genius behind this?
Granted, there are some interesting goals outside of placing first (such as
destroying your toy compatriots), but it’s just not enough. Hmm… that seems
to go against the lines of the movie, but whatever. It’s not like these kart
games make sense anyway.
Those with big Toy Story appetites will have a chance to stomach 100
different arrangements of these recycled levels. And to think you can get the
same daily nutrients in just one bowl of Total!
Despite a few levels that get played to death, however, some truly stand out.
The bowling alley sports some snazzy looking reflections across the waxed wooden
floors and the parking garage sports some sharp-looking textures. But for every
level worth noting, there’s a level that seems very average – like it was pulled
straight from the Toy Story action game. I can’t stress it enough – these
levels are just played out.
What’s the big incentive to get through these levels? Surprise! More Toy
Story characters! Umm… hurrah? You start off with Woody, Buzz, RC the racecar
(he’s driving himself) and that Shepherd girl. There’s a grand total of 12 characters,
including my personal favorite, the Baby-headed-spider-freak.
Maneuvering and turning utilizes a simple pivot system. Instead of the traditional
wide turning of a typical kart racer complete with power slides, your little
toys turn on a dime. This leads to some difficulty as you race through a level
for the first time. I guarantee you’ll oversteer and wind up doing a 180. It
takes some getting used to, but even then, it isn’t as comfortable as the norm.
Nonetheless, pivoting does work better for battles where greater maneuverability
It would be nice if the game added a touch more depth, though. Drift steering
and speed boosts? Not in this toy chest.
You’ll be happy to know that the music isn’t so bad. It’s cheery, happy, and
might actually give you a cavity with it’s sticky-sweetness. You’ll also find
voice samples aplenty by authentic sounding voice-over actors.
Toy Story Racer is an average game through and through. Admittedly,
it does end up my favorite of the Toy Story games, but that isn’t saying
much. There are better kart racers out there (such as Crash
Team Racing) that don’t shove gameplay down your throat. Kids won’t mind,
but if you’re playing with one, you will be annoyed.