Pixar is easily Steve Jobs’ biggest accomplishment outside of Apple. That’s why a game based on the company’s first blockbuster hit, Toy Story, is no surprise on the iPhone. After giving the game our usual playthrough, we found it to be one of the highest quality minigame collections on the device, but it still comes with a few flaws that keep it from earning our highest score.
Toy Story Mania is based on a new attraction at Disneyland in California, which mixes carnival games and a roller coaster. Each of the five minigames included in this iPhone package is based off of its physical counterpart witnessed on the ride, except with far more depth.
Each minigame consists of hitting targets on the screen, which are worth different amounts of points. However, enough twists to the formula are implemented to keep things fresh across the board.
Whack an alien.
Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery and Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop involve tapping on targets to shoot darts at them. The difference, however, comes in the level formation and way you reload. In Woody’s shooting game, you are in a Wild West setting where animals pop up holding targets and you reload by sliding across the ammo-meter.
The Bo Peep game is located in multi-layered hills covered in sheep-shaped balloons. Reloading is performed by shaking the device. While these changes in style are slight, it gave the minigames a unique feel.
Other minigames have you dragging on the screen to shoot projectiles onto the playfield. Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers looks like an advanced whack-a-mole board, with rockets and the familiar three-eyes martians constantly poking their heads out before going back into hiding. You must drag a line up the screen to where you want to throw a ring and release.
Another similar game is Hamm’ n Eggs, which has you shooting eggs at various barn animals. The longer you hold an egg back before shooting it, the more power you give it.
Our favorite game was Green Army Men Shoot Camp. This utilized the iPhone’s unique multitouch capabilities by having one finger move a crosshair and another tap on the screen to shoot. As targets are moved around the boot camp or sail by in the background, you must move into position and fire. A control scheme such as this, along with use of the accelerometer for movement, could bode well for FPS games on the device.
How does this relate to Toy Story, exactly?
Every minigame has two modes: challenge and free play. Challenge is the game’s campaign, where you play a set of five levels with specific challenges, like limited ammo or time. There are three difficulty levels, but you must start with easy and work your way up. Free Play allows you to take any of the levels and play it.
Depending on how well you do in a game, you are given a score and a proportional number of tickets. Completing certain objectives in bonus rounds unlocks upgrades, which can be purchased at the ticket booth. This sense of unlocking it all yourself was extremely satisfying and kept us playing to unlock it all.
Upgrades enhance the minigames in big ways, with power-ups, new levels, and more. For example, one enhancement for Hamm’ n Eggs allows you to shoot 3 eggs at once for 10 seconds. There are 12 enhancements in total, and all of them provide a healthy amount of replay value.
Babes in Toyland.
Presentation is one of the game’s strong points. It is apparent from the second you launch the game’s fully animated and vibrant top-down menu: you’re greeted by a bunch of toys, rendered in a crisp 3D style that pops out at you. All of the games are just as impressive. Layered styles give the playfield depth, and many animations such as tanks shooting back at you and martians escaping the game fly right up to the screen. Needless to say, we were very impressed with the graphics.
Our main complaint with the game is the scoring system, which is bland at best. Scores for all difficulty levels are compiled, which ends up rendering it useless. Also, there is no online feature and preset scores are hardly a challenge to overcome.
We would have also liked to see some form of multiplayer implemented, allowing players to go head-to-head for high scores or even battle each other. Given the social nature of the device, this would make the game an even greater bang for your buck.
While these oversights are definitely worth noting, Toy Story Mania is still a solid purchase in its current state that will satisfy not only franchise fanboys, but minigame lovers looking for a deeper offering.