Toy Story 3 – Strange Things Are Happening To Me

Which is actually a song from Toy Story 1, rather than 3 but nevermind. Hello Completionists, and welcome back to a long overdue post from me, Khinjarsi! I’ve been busy selling pots and pans at John Lewis, and with my well earned pay I’ve bought a PS Vita. The only game I really want is FFX HD, since the original is my favourite game. Still, good things come to those who wait, and in the meantime I’ve started playing through the games that came in my Disney pack bundle thing. I hope to review a couple of them over the next few weeks, but for now here’s a list of them:

Toy Story 3

Up

Ratatouille

Cars

Mickey’s Wild Adventures (Mickey Mania outside Europe)

Epic Mickey 2

The only game here that’s designed for the Vita is Epic Mickey 2. I played Mickey’s Wild Adventures a long time ago as a child, so I chose to start with Toy Story 3. I am a massive Disney fan (as I’m sure TMG and Trunco will tell you) and the Toy Story series is one of my favourite Pixar-Disney series. Having seen Toy Story 3 twice in the cinema, and hearing good things about the console versions, I launched into the game. Here’s my little review.

Scene 1

Toy Story 3: The Videogame was released on a number of systems, ranging from the handheld all the way to the PS2, and everything in between. The XBox 360 and PS3 versions garnered good reviews from all over the place. As a result, I was quite happy receiving a download code for the PSP version to play on my new PS Vita. From the moment you start it up, the game looks awful, even on a handheld screen. Perhaps with the smaller PSP screen it wouldn’t look too bad, but blown up to Vita proportions you can see every pixel. The menus are simple to follow, beginning with the short intro sequence with Bonnie returning to play with her toys. You follow Rex under the bed, where the toys are still playing around, and from there can launch into the main story, one of several mini games, options and extra features, including unlockable cheats. Not being a big fan of mini games, I launch into the story, expecting to live through the main scenes from the film.

Scene 2

Rex has a book, which is pretty impressive for a dinosaur. He’s telling you, via the medium of child-like drawings, what happened in Toy Story 3. Obviously, all the toys had a get together at the end of the film, and recorded what happened in a toy size book – both Woody and Buzz’s perspectives are recorded. Still, we start at the beginning.
Playing as Woody, the game begins with the first scene in the film – the train rescue. Dashing across carriages and around boxes, Woody can use his pullstring as a weapon , jump and double, and occasionally overdoing it and falling off the side. Since it’s really a game for children, there’s no real “death” to speak of, and there’s no lives. If you fall off, or are seen by a human and return to toy state, the screen blacks out and returns you to a few moments before your jump to your death.

The train rescue acts as a tutorial, though with the minimum of help. On-screen prompts stay with you throughout the game, although they aren’t exactly difficult to remember. There are some issues with the camera, particularly in later levels, and I became disoriented quite quickly. Sometimes you can control the camera, and sometimes (usually when you need to) you can’t. These difficulties with camera angles led to quite a few unnecessary “deaths” and repeatedly having to redo sections of the levels to get to the right places.

The controls are fairly simple, if not always as responsive as I’d like, and some of the particular movements don’t always behave properly. Pushing buttons for a double jump doesn’t always jump, and the game doesn’t always recognise when you’ve pressed the right button to trigger an event. Sadly many of the objects in the game world aren’t really explained to you – wooden blocks can be destroyed and sometimes yield stars, which can also be picked up throughout the levels, but you aren’t told why you need to do anything. They’re just there. It turns out that collecting all the things and destroying blocks are separate challenges in and of themselves, and you don’t gain much from collecting them, only some “tokens”, which can be spent on unlocking cheats and pointless images. There’s little in terms of direction, other than the story as told by Rex.

Scene 3

Once you finish the train level, you continue through the basic areas of the film – Sunnyside, Andy’s Room, The Incinerator. Different levels have you playing as different characters – mostly Woody and Buzz, but also Jessie and even the Green Army Men! The characters and cut scenes are voiced and animated really well, and even the title screen is animated – Rex reads his picture book while you wait. Movement through the levels is largely pretty smooth, aside from the odd camera angles making it difficult to see. Each character has specific movements and actions that only they can use; Woody uses his pullstring to lift himself to higher platforms, Buzz can glide and use his laser wrist thing and the Aliens separate out and can be switched between. It adds a touch of inventiveness to the game, despite the lack of creativity elsewhere.

As you complete levels, you can also unlock mini games, accessible from the menu. Woody’s Roundup has you playing as old-timey Woody and Bullseye from Toy Story 2, jumping over obstacles and having shootouts with cowboys, as it appears in the film. Buzz has his Space Ranger adventures, with you playing as Buzz trying to outwit Emperor Zurg, and the Aliens too have a minigame. I haven’t been able to play that one as it is locked out, accessible only through the Playstation Store. Sadly, the PSP version (and the PS2 version) doesn’t come with the Toybox mode that the console versions became loved for. Nope, you’re stuck with repeatedly playing the main story over and over again to collect everything for no apparent reason, or playing the mini games to repeatedly better your score. There’s a distinct lack of reason to play this game more than once, and even once was too much for me.

Grand Finale

Unfortunately, the best voices and movement can’t fix what is a very linear and ultimately boring game. There are none of the sandboxy, creative possibilities of the console versions, and once you’ve played through a few levels and a few mini games, you’ve pretty much seen it all.  Although clearly not made for the bigger screen of a Vita, the graphics are pretty lame, particularly the end levels messages – they look like they should be from a GBA game.

Movie tie-ins are notorious for being terrible, and Toy Story 3 is not much of an exception. I’ve certainly seen worse (I’m looking at you The Golden Compass!), but I have seen better. Still, it’s a bit of a challenge for kids, and this is clearly the audience the game is made for. However, when you invest your time and money into a game, you tend to want it to last more than a couple of hours. I was done with this in a day.

 

And there you are readers. My first real foray into Sony handhelds (I had a brief spell with P3P on PSP – try saying that when you’re drunk). It wasn’t the game I was hoping it to be, but for the age group it’s aimed at, it’s fine.

I’m actually enjoying Ratatouille a lot more. Maybe that’ll be next. Khinjarsi out!

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