By Jon Ferguson
I laugh and clap while bouncing happily as my favorite cowboy and spaceman land safely in Andy’s van. It is, of course, the 900,000th time I have seen the movie, but at three years old I cannot help but marvel at the moving, talking, thinking toys on the screen in front of me.
Toy Story was an instant hit with my family when it first released in 1995. I can remember getting my first Woody doll, complete with “Jon” on the boot and an Etch-a-sketch to go with him. But never in my wildest toddler dreams would I have imagined the amazing Toy Story trinkets the children of 2010 have been blessed with. The most awe-bringing, of course, is the Toy Story 3 video game.
The movie was a huge blockbuster, passing up Shrek 2 for best selling animated movie, but even a great movie can make a gut-wrenchingly awful video game, as most do. This is just not the case for Toy Story. It has a co-op game that makes me clap my hands like a three year old again, and graphics that make Pixar look like a bunch of monkeys with colored pencils. It was a perfect accompaniment for an entertaining movie.
The game is not exactly like the movie, though, and this is Avalanche Software’s great accomplishment. Past movie games have been, at best, unpleasant due to the boring, repetitive missions that match the movie exactly. Avalanche, no doubt marketing to the small attention span of five to ten year olds, just took important parts of the movie and made a short story mode that almost matches the movie, but has more interactive games and challenges than that poor cowboy expected. It even includes a complete play through of Rex’s video game, giving you close to the same sense of accomplishment of Rex’s “I did it, I finally defeated Zurg!”
The secret to the success of this game is the Toy Box mode that, like mention earlier, was marketed towards smaller children who will play the game. What we all did not expect, but Avalanche is profiting from, is the similarity between teenage gamers’ attention span and the 10 year old’s. Both 18 and 11 year olds get the same satisfaction from picking up a Little Tike and throwing him at Hamm. Toy Box mode is an almost completely free play mode that allows the player to play as any character they want in a free roam environment, doing optional missions to gain coins to buy more toys. Toy Box mode makes Toy Story a landmark in the movie-game franchise, just from the fact that it is one that is bearable to play, and even fun.
On the technical side, the graphics are far better than poor Pixar’s, who doesn’t get all the funding of the video game world. The 1080P graphics are clearer and brighter than Pixar will be for the next 5 years. The controls are also simple, but this is expected as the game is marketed towards 10 year old children.
As I think back on my childhood, I feel a little bit of jealousy when I see the myriad of Toy Story merchandise for sale this year. I can still remember the excitement of getting the awful Toy Story 2 for Windows 98, before gaming companies were as smart as the 3rd generation gaming world. My inner childhood rushes from my mind as I hear Buzz’s comforting “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!” come from my surround sound. This game is no doubt a best seller in the future that every Toy Story fan should own.