Hi everybody! Welcome to Jon Goes to the Movies, a series where I review movie licensed tie-in games! That's about it, really.
Toy Story was the first movie released by Pixar, a then new studio specializing in CG animated movies. Even today it still stands out as a pretty good movie. It's one of the few "mass childhood" movies I actually saw when I was a kid. It was a huge hit too, spawning two sequels, a TV series, and a massive merchandise campaign, which included video games! There were several Toy Story games throughout the years, ranging from kart racers to rail shooters, but the one we'll be looking at today is the first of these games, simply called Toy Story. Based on the first movie, Toy Story is a 2D platformer, which was the go-to genre for adaptations back then. Since the movie was one of the first big CG children's movie, the game decided to go down the Donkey Kong Country route and use pre-rendered 3D graphics crushed down to a 2D sprite. It doesn't come quite close to looking like DKC, but we'll get to why that is later.
It's fairly short; my playtime was around 2 hours (though I paused frequently to talk about it), and as far as platformers go, it's decent. My only real complaints with how it played was that sometimes it would be a little hard to get onto a platform above you. It looks like you're jumping higher than you actually are, if that makes any sense. It is also a little hard to see everything around you, since the camera is pretty close to you the whole game, not to mention that your attack only stuns enemies. There's an alright amount of variety, as 5 of the game's 17 levels are not standard platforming. There's 2 levels where you control an RC car, a fight against Nightmare Buzz, a flying level that takes place after the climax of the movie, and even a first-person level in the claw machine where you have to rescue the little green alien toys. These levels are fun little deviations from the platforming fare, and are very appreciated. The fight against Nightmare Buzz stands out as the only boss fight in the game, and isn't based on any scene in the movie, making it in particular stand out from the rest of the game.
As mentioned earlier, the game takes after Donkey Kong Country in visuals, and while it looks okay for the most part (you can easily tell what is and isn't a platform), the novelty runs out very quickly. It's by no means ugly, but you get the feeling it could be a little better. The game sounds okay too; none of the music is particularly bad, but I don't see myself listening to the tracks again any time soon. Sound effects are a bit different however; the voice clips are alright, but are repeated far too often to have any novelty, with the exception of the scene where Sid burns a spot on Woody's neck with a magnifying glass. The more of Woody's digitized screams of pain you hear, the better.
As for accuracy to the movie, the game's story is exactly that of the movie's, with a couple deviations for gameplay's sake. Cutscenes are short, and take the form of digitized movie frames alongside text explaining what happens between levels. It's an alright way to go through the movie, but if I had played the game first and saw the movie later, I'd be wondering where the Nightmare Buzz scene was. In the end, the Toy Story game is a solid movie licensed video game. Not too bad, but not that great either. Personally, I couldn't ask for more from a tie-in cash grab.