Every time I come home after a trip to a Disney theme park, I wish I could recapture some of the excitement, thrills, and fun of the rides, sights, and attractions in my everyday life. While I wait for a home version of some of the more popular roller coasters and simulators, Disney’s Toy Story Mania! for Nintendo’s Wii system will have to suffice.
The game adequately replicates the Toy Story shooting gallery ride at Disneyland and Walt DisneyWorld, bringing all the characters and all the scenarios to your home television screen. Now, you don’t need to fly to California or Florida, stand in line, and hop on an amusement park cart to enjoy the game – you can do it from the comfort of your own family room sofa.
Based on the popular Toy Story movies by Pixar Animation Studios (now owned by Disney), the videogame is a simple carnival-type diversion with up to 30 mini-games, most of which have an objective to hit multiple targets on the screen.
Visually, it all looks great and nicely captures the feel of the characters from the blockbuster films and the original theme park attraction. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Bo Peep, and all the other favorites are here and looking and sounding great.
The game offers the option to play in Story Mode or Free Play. In Story Mode, you advance from game to game by completing a number of objectives, unlocking more levels as you win. As those mini-games are unlocked, they become available to be played in the Free Play mode. You can also win Tickets that you can use as currency to unlock games or buy digital stickers just like in a real arcade.
The games fit in different themed worlds inspired by the characters: an animal farm, a tea party, a Western cowboy town, outer space, and a military shooting range – all family friendly of course. Players throw pies, eggs, darts, baseballs, and rings in an effort to pop balloons, break plates, knock over objects, and, of course, score points. Some of the mini-games are ludicrously simple, like the pie toss practice booth or ringing the bell with the strongman hammer, but others can be addictively entertaining like tossing coins in cups or the skee ball game, which is my favorite.
The gameplay is very easy, and because of its simplicity might feel overly repetitive at times. While playing Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers section, my family members were trying hard to aim and toss their rings carefully on the Green Aliens and the rocketships, I simply pressed the A button down and moved my controller randomly everywhere on the screen, scoring the most points quickly and easily to my utter satisfaction. It was a simple victory, and in a family game like this I was not expecting the need for intense strategy or intricate maneuverability anyway.
Playing alone might be the wrong way to approach this game. Like the original theme park rides, it is much more fun to play with a group. Young kids should get a big kick out of the suction cup shooting action in Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery or Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop. Knocking over cut-out airplanes and other targets in the Green Army Men Shoot Camp is good, clean fun.
The standard Wii controller is sufficient but at times is a bit hard to aim for some of the more detailed targeting. (That is when it becomes necessary to just hold down that A button and shoot blindly, wishing for the best.) The European release of the game will reportedly come with a Ray Gun controller, and it would have been a good idea for Disney and Nintendo to include a similar customized controller in the American release reviewed here – it would have made the shooting much more comfortable and added some more similarity with the actual theme park attraction.
Toy Story Mania! comes with two pairs of 3D glasses for some bonus sections of the game, but like all television 3D effects, the three-dimensional results are minimal and do not really add anything to the gameplay. The glasses themselves are flimsy cardboard and will probably get destroyed rather quickly in the hands of young children after one or two game sessions.
Even with a bunch of Easter Eggs and the almost 30 individual levels, the list price of $49.99 seems steep for what ends up being a rather simplistic game (You can find it for a few bucks cheaper on Amazon and other places). It will keep the young ones distracted for a few hours and it might be a cute party game as you and your friends try to top each others’ scores.
The Wii game did accomplish one thing, though – it made me feel, however briefly, like I was back at Walt Disney World, and I didn’t even have to pay for airfare or hotel accommodations!
Toy Story Mania! is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.