With your friend and mine Moviefan12 working on the Toy Story event, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. As some of you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of old school games so I decided to chime in with a review of the 16-bit game that was released to tie in with movie. (For those of you wondering why I never reviewed the 16-bit games of Aladdin, there are already plenty of reviews of that on Youtube. Guys like Console Wars and Clan of the Grey Wolf already said everything I’d want to so watch their videos.)
Since I was such a big fan of Toy Story as a kid, I remember wanting this game pretty badly. I never owned it. Then again, for monetary reasons, I didn’t get a bunch of the games I wanted as a kid – such as Donkey Kong Country 2. I do vividly remember renting this from my mom and pop video store and playing it as a kid. Having that small taste only made me want it more… at least until the next generation came around and I moved on to PSX and N64 games.
Getting to the meat of the matter is gameplay. During the 16-bit era, platformers were a dime a dozen. Some were stone classics like Super Mario World. In fact, a lot of the really good Disney games were platformers such as Mickey Mania (a game I did own as a kid) and the aforementioned Aladdin. Cheap movie cash-ins were also a dime a dozen. I also rented that awful Batman Forever game as a kid, and I didn’t need the Angry Video Game Nerd to tell me that game was awful (I got roadblocked at a wall, and with no manual internet, I didn’t know how to proceed). But this game delivers.
The general gameplay is fun. You take control of Woody for most of the game. You run, you use your pullstring to swing around and stun enemies. But what makes this game fun is its variety. This isn’t some cookie-cutter platformer where the player just goes from point A to point B (and on weekends point C). Levels have unique objectives such as making sure the toys are in their proper positions in a time limit. Woody has to race Buzz (it’s not an actual race, but it is unique). There are also a ton of gimmick levels such as controlling RC in an overhead view. There is a first person level inside the claw machine. If you have the option, I recommend the Genesis version because it has an extra level where you control RC in a first person view. It’s a pretty fun level.
In terms of presentation, the graphics are pretty good. Emulating something like Aladdin or The Lion King couldn’t have been TOO hard since 16-bit systems were pretty good at cartoonish graphics. However, games such as Donkey Kong Country and Vectorman showed that 16-bit games could create the illusion of 3D. Admittedly, this game’s look is kind of pixelated, but for a movie like Toy Story, this was the best we were gonna get. Music is good. A lot of the songs from the movie are recreated, and a lot of the original music is good. I wouldn’t listen to these songs out of context, but they get the job done.
So does this game have any flaws? Well, it does have one teensy-weensy little problem. Toy Story is kind of the hard side. Is this game really too tough for the guy who’s beaten Ninja Gaiden 2, Zelda 2, Contra 3, NES Batman, and every Donkey Kong Country game? Here’s the thing: The game isn’t too hard on its face. The problem is that there are EIGHTEEN LEVELS with no password, and unless you earn them by meticulously collecting stars you get no continues. Remember those first person and RC levels I was talking about? Those levels actually require some serious practice. RC has ass-backwards controls, and runs out of battery power easily. These levels are beatable if you practice. ButÂ essentially, you’ll have to play through the entire game just to practice these levels! There’s also a level near the end of the game where you have to escape Sid’s house. It’s one of those Battletoads-esque levels where you have to memorize every hazard that’s thrown at you – okay, not as hard as Battletoads. But imagine making it that far only to get roadblocked. To be fair, there are ways around this. The Genesis version has a level select code (as Does the SNES version, but it’s harder to access), but some of the hardcore gamers might consider that cheating. I personally don’t care. Like my mom said, it’s just a game. But I’ll always know I didn’t beat it legit.
(Also, it occured to me that needing to beat it without passwords/saves is a valid criticism of Super Mario Bros. 3, one of my all-time favorites. I don’t like it in that game either – even with warp whistles!)
I spent years wondering why this game was made so difficult. I’m a twenty (trails off) year old man, and I can’t beat a game made for kids. How were actual kids supposed to beat it? Well, for those of you who don’t know, American’s got the short end of the stick with a lot of games. We got the harder versions of games such as Battletoads, Contra Hard Corps, and Streets of Rage 3. Toy Story is no exception. Every international version got the badly needed password system, but for SOME REASON it was taken out of the American version. I heard a rumor that games were deliberately made harder for US releases because of places like Blockbusters. The difficulty was ramped up so kids couldn’t just rent them and beat them over a weekend. If they wanted to beat the game, they actually had to buy them.
(The funny thing is this game came out around the same time as The Lion King… which is even HARDER! While Toy Story is an average difficulty game that is only made hard because of its length, The Lion King is just flat out hard. I’ve never even made it past the second level!)
So is this Toy Story game recommended? Absolutely. It is a fun game. Just be prepared to use some codes, save states, Game Genie. Or you can find the European edition. Or you can get really good.