Games released at the same time as the movies they are based on rarely live up to the expectations of gamers and often barely rise to a level resembling competence. Pixar’s Toy Story 3 releases to movie theaters today and Toy Story 3: The Video Game was released earlier this week to for nearly every gaming platform available . We are going to look at Disney Interactive’s Nintendo DS version in this review to see if goes beyond infinity or if it is better left in the toy box.
Players will spend their time in the Story Mode portion of the game switching between the imaginary play world spawned from the imagination of characters like Buzz and Woody and the “real” world as they attempt to make it back to Andy’s room. The “real” world portion is filled with platforming and alternates between Buzz and Woody on separate levels as they attempt to make their way through bedrooms or escape from the daycare. Both Buzz and Woody have their own special abilities in these levels such as Woody using his pull-cord as a whip / lasso to swing from point to point and Buzz being able to “fall with style”. The real world levels reasonably follow the story of the movie with text-filled cut-scenes. The reading level is basic but parents we’ll want to make sure that the the child that gets up the game has at least a first-grade reading level or higher or else plan on reading the story and instructions for the child.
The imaginary levels are triggered by events in the real world and are generally action-oriented mini-games. These include everything from Buzz flying through space and destroying Zurg’s robots to Woody wrangling down a runaway train and even include some pretty nice games of Tower Defense. Most of these games are entertaining but there is the odd one or two that aren’t quite as good as the others such as one mini-game that has Woody climbing up the side of the mountain. There’s nothing technically wrong with it but it’s just not as fun as the Buzz Lightyear shooting gallery.
Throughout both modes, players will collect toy balls and other items to unlock “gifts” that can be used both in the Playtime mode and on DGamer.com. The notifications are similar to unlocking Achievements on the Xbox 360 or Trophies on the PS3 and make for good motivation to collect all the normal toy balls plus special toy balls. The real world levels are also littered with the little green space men from the movie that you can unlock different outfits for and even record your own sounds.
Outside of the Story Mode, the game also contains a Playtime mode that allows the gamer to replay some of their favorite mini-games and Tower Defense levels. The Tower Defense levels are actually my favorite as you can control Buzz or Woody around a playmat to defend their base against invading toys by placing dart towers, ping pong ball catapults and even call for help from Rex, Hamm, Slinky, and other friends.
There really aren’t a lot of problems with the game. There’s the occasional problem with lining up jumps in platforming levels but the game controls well enough. However, there’s a certain punch to the game that seems to be lacking that I can’t really put my finger on. My complaint from a previous Disney Interactive DS game review remains though. The game only allows one game save per cartridge which means parents with more than one child will be forced to buy an extra game or deal with the kids arguing over who gets done with the game first and potentially deleting each others game saves.
Yes, movie based games have earned a reputation for being poorly made but Toy Story 3: The Video Game for the Nintendo DS is not one of them. It’s a well made game that has enough of the Toy Story charm to elevate it above the typical movie tie-in and it does well to cater to kids aged 6 – 12. The Playtime mode also extends the fun by letting the gamer replay their favorite mini-games. The game doesn’t go beyond infinity but it is still very much worth the time to play.
Final Score: 80/100
For the Xbox 360 review of the game, check out Examiner Matthew Furtado’s take. If you’re interested in the movie review, check out cakechow.com’s Juan Martinez who got an early look at the film during E3.
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