Toy Story 3: The Video Game Review for Nintendo DS

Toy Story 3: The Video Game Review for Nintendo DS

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

After quite a few years collecting dust, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story gang are hitting the big screen once again. Disney Interactive Studios also brings the experience to the Nintendo DS, but does this portable romp take gamers to infinity and beyond?

Toy Story 3: The Video Game screenshot

With so much time out of the Pixar limelight, many folks might be wondering what Andy and his collection of playthings have been up to. While readying himself for the big move to college, Andy’s toys get mistaken as trash and, thus, our adventure begins. Woody and Buzz must reunite with their lifeless friends and make their way back to Andy’s room in time for one last farewell.

The story is told through in-game pantomime, text, and scrolling still images. Though many emotional elements manage to come across surprisingly well on the tiny DS screens, it’s disappointing to see Disney offer such a barebones and cobbled presentation for fans. The story takes huge leaps from one major plot point to another, with only storyboards to vaguely fill in the gaps.

In spite of disappointment with the presentation, the game has a playful cohesiveness fans of the movies should appreciate. The adventure touches on a wide variety of gameplay types, and the premise is undeniably endearing.

Toy Story 3: The Video Game is broken up into two main activities: adventure and mini-games. In adventure mode, you’ll take control of either Woody or Buzz, navigating environments in real-time. Control for both characters is mapped to the D-pad and face buttons, and though Woody feels floaty and less agile, the handling for each character is well-suited to their design as toys. Woody uses his pull string to swing across platforms, and Buzz can glide using his rocket wings. A lot of the actions are scripted, and some elements of the platforming feel clumsy, but there is, indeed, some good stuff here any gamer can enjoy.

Toy Story 3: The Video Game screenshot

The camera during adventure mode does a decent job of helping the player along, though certain angles can make it difficult at times to know exactly where to go next. Nevertheless, you’re led by the nose pretty much throughout the entirety of the game, with the top screen offering step-by-step instruction on how to proceed.

What’s really nice about the adventure mode is how it seamlessly integrates various gameplay elements into the overall experience. You’ll be doing some light platforming one minute and a short bit of stealth action the next. There’s nothing really new here, but Toy Story 3: The Video Game does a good job implementing pretty much every facet of the DS hardware. You’ll use the microphone to blow bubbles in order to distract children, as well as tap on the touch screen to remove debris from buried toys. Rather than trying to milk each bit of gameplay dry, the mechanics are worked into the adventure in a meaningful and mostly enjoyable way.

Toy Story 3: The Video Game screenshot

In addition to the adventure mode and mini-games, the story in Toy Story 3: The Video Game plays out through “Make Believe” and “Playtime” events. The Make Believe portions of the game are especially interesting because of the notion that the toys (Woody or Buzz) are using their imagination in order to make navigating simple spaces more fun. For instance, Woody using magnets to climb up a chalk board becomes a game in which he’s scaling the side of a canyon. Conversely, Buzz will imagine himself flying through space, shooting enemy robots, or taking cover and shooting in the first person, á la Time Crisis.

Though these side portions of the game are far from perfect, they’re fun, little missions that play to the strengths of the DS. When controlling Buzz in on-rails segments, you’ll use the stylus to aim and either the D-pad or face buttons to move. The controls feel good, though targeting was somewhat dubious. Woody’s side adventures are admittedly less interesting and tend to overstay their welcome as a result.

Toy Story 3: The Video Game screenshot

Lastly, there is Playtime, which consists of a simplified, albeit enjoyable, form of Tower Defense. The action plays out in real-time, with Woody collecting blocks to purchase and upgrade towers. It’s a very straightforward approach with little challenge, but for younger gamers, Playtime is definitely a decent introduction to the genre. My main complaint with Playtime is that it’s used maybe one time too many in the story mode.

Both the Quick Play and Playtime options make it easy to go back and play through your favorite portions of the game, and with tons of unlockables, there’s definitely incentive to do so. It’s a decent package with extra stuff to discover after you’ve completed the story, but the adventure is over before you know it.

As you play through the story mode, you’ll unlock achievements and gameplay modes, as well as trinkets to toy around with in DGamer. Like all of Disney’s other current DS offerings, DGamer is a prominent part of the package; it’s still one of the few viable options on the handheld for social gaming. Alone, however, DGamer is hardly worth the price of admission.

Visually, Toy Story 3: The Video Game looks good on DS. There’s nothing particularly impressive about the game, and the actual story presentation comes across as an afterthought. The 3D visuals, though, are mostly clean and attractive, and the framerate was smooth throughout.

The background music is fitting, but the optimization of the audio as a whole can be jarring at times. During character interactions, the music will hiccup constantly. The sound effects are a bit hit-and-miss as well. Elements of Buzz’s adventure can be completely satisfying, while sounds associated with Woody’s gameplay sound like noisy clinks and clacks. The voice work doesn’t help much, either. The actors spout out cliché lines from the franchise with awkward intonation – more proof that the presentation was likely given little consideration.

Though my affair with the handheld version of Toy Story 3: The Video Game was brief – and I do mean brief, clocking in at roughly three hours – I had a fair bit of fun with the game. There are some moments throughout the adventure that made me stop and wonder, “Why is no one else doing this on DS?” There are some surprisingly cool ideas tossed into the mix, and they’re sewn together in a playful and seamless fashion.

In execution, however, the game is far from perfect. Disney Interactive Studios has treated the DS version of Toy Story 3: The Video Game much like the toys in the actual story, mistaking it for trash. Inspirational gameplay is marred by a lack of polish, and the characters and story deserve much more than what’s offered in the game’s presentation. There’s some incentive to replay levels, and the DGamer elements add value to the package; there’s also plenty wasted potential here.

In-game graphics are smooth and attractive, with some surprising detail. You will, however, have to completely overlook the story presentation. 3.4 Control
Simple gameplay and mechanics, but there are some special nuggets here and there. Collision detection is occasionally an issue, and the camera isn’t always ideal, either. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background music is fitting, but it’s often discombobulated during character conversations. Sound effects are a mix bag of fun and annoying. 2.5

Play Value
The adventure is over in a flash, and though DGamer is still one of the strongest social networks on DS, it hardly makes the ends meet.

3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Join these fantastic adventures to stop a speeding train, battle enemies in space, race downhill in an out-of-control wagon, and much more!
  • Find out what happens when Andy’s away and toys decide to have some playtime!
  • Combine all the toys on awesome location-themed play mats such as the Old West, a prehistoric world, an alien planet, and more! Play as either Woody or Buzz and defend your home base against loads of fun and zany enemies.

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