Review: Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue! (1999)

imageReleased: 1999

Difficulty: Just Right

Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours

 

Headline: Buzz Lightyear comes through 

And so today’s review turns out to be the video game adaptation of high quality animation that is Toy Story 2. How does it hold out? Well, most movie tie-in-games have a tendency of sinking like a rock in terms of quality but do quite well sales-wise; turns out Toy Story 2 is a little different.

Cowboy caricature, Woody gets taken away by a greedy collector as Woody is a rare collectable and certain businessmen are willing the give up the benjamins for him. But in his true owner’s mind (Andy), he is a family Toy that was never meant to be sold. Every toy, doll, board game, and action figure in the toy box tries to concoct a plan to get him back; but one toy leads a voyage beyond their own home to get Woody back, Buzz Lightyear. Buzz is a Space Ranger and feels great contempt to save Woody, especially when Woody saved Buzz in the original film. Now, because Toy Story 2 is an action / platformer game, it doesn’t focus much on the real emotion or underlying meanings; it uses clips from the movie to base the levels around. It’s a bit of a mishmash of storytelling that does tell the story in a very abridged manner; you won’t exactly get the full picture unless you watch the feature film.

 Opening Level in Andy's home

Most levels take a small segment of story and expand it into a full 3D environment; this includes Andy’s house, Al’s toy barn, elevator shaft, and so forth. And in each of these levels, you have 5 tokens to collect and each is intent on providing you with a different type of challenge to reach that reward:

-One has you searching a level to find 50 coins, which you must return to Hamm for a token

-Another has you defeating the boss for a level; these bosses pretty much attack, attack, attack, while you exploit their obvious weakness. They’re really basic; but there are other ‘boss stages’ that set the scene for a decently challenging and enjoyable fight.

-Then you have time trials where you have either 30 seconds to find a handful of thingies (dog bones, underwear, IDK) or you’re competing in a simple race.

-Puzzles also appear and are definitely the most creative; they place emphasis on practical thinking including basic physics, colour combining, and matching objects. It sounds simple, but each presents a simple and unique situation that might brain you for a moment or so.

-Lastly, there is what I’ll call search and rescue missions. The gist is there are 5 toys belonging to someone and it’s your job to find them, collect them, return them, and snatch up your token (it’s really simple).

As long as you collect a token in each level, the game is fine with letting go on; but eventually, you’ll need more tokens to progress. A problem I have is that the only side activity that doesn’t start to feel like a grind after a while is the puzzles (and races to an extent); everything else is just playing dress-up and rewords the same thing.

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This guy is a giant idiot

To add to that are the toys that brought the films to life. You’ll see a wide assortment of characters giving you a quest; but there are 2 in particular to focus on: Mr. Potato Head and Rex, the Dinosaur. Every-so-often, Mr. Potato head will lose part of himself in the level and obviously, he’ll task you with finding it. I’m not sure how he could’ve got so far away from his foot when he lost it (or even realize it) but I’ll forgive the logic in this case. He adds an extra of layer to the gameplay; retrieving his… body parts offers additional tools and gadgets, getting Buzz where he couldn’t before or defeating felons that were beyond him. They are optional so kids won’t be constrained, but give the game something more and sometimes makes revisiting a level essential for accomplishment. Rex is around to just give Buzz a brief about who is where and what needs to be done for their token. Sounds simple, but with all the fetching and steady increase of larger, more multi-level design, Rex helps gamers keep track of all the hullabaloo. Here’s a situation:

Mr. Potato head lost his eye, Hams keeps asking his coins, RC car wants to race, an evil robot wants to fry Buzz’s batteries, the cat can’t find its way back in the house, and Frank in accounting needs his spreadsheets! If you’re a kid (which I suspect is this game’s majority audience), you aren’t going to remember all that. Even I was wondering who needed what at points as all I would do was collect things until I found somebody.

Buzz is decently prepared for what he faces; he’s armed with his laser beam, spin attack, and each of these can be charged up. He also has a jumping stomp that proves handy for physical obstacles but not enemies. Speaking of which, enemy toys – they all run around like sentries and they each have some sort of attribute. One might jump, another will shoot swarm shots or lasers, some swarm you, and one can block your laser. You get fodder enemies that don’t stay in your way too much or little. Traversing the levels is enjoyable; you’ll get to climb, swing, jump, perform bouncing jumps, all whilst observing your surroundings. What makes that fun is the strength in the controls themselves and very considerate placements. You’ll get a safe-way route if you get high enough (like an extended rope to the bottom) if you made it so far and fell off. I can also assure you that going the extra mile up that giant tree or elevator shaft will always reward you for your efforts with everything there is to collect. It should be noted though that the camera is troubled; regardless of either mode you use it in, the camera remains slow to autocorrect and sluggish to manually reorient. This can provide tricky viewing angles and make judging jumps quite difficult at points.

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Oh no! It's the Garbage Can Monster!

In terms of presentation, the game turns out to be pretty darn good; the menus are clear and somewhat lively, and the cinematic clips are converted quite decently. Models look pretty spot on, animate nicely, there’s some nice effects, and the environments usually avoid looking empty. The sound effects are distinctive and clear while the toys have some extra dialogue to sound natural instead of being cut out from the film. The music sounds like it belongs in the movie; it captures the same feel of adventure and danger the toys face multiple times. It’s even a 10 – 12 hour game which means there’s more than just a rental’s worth here.

Toy Story 2 is a phenomenal movie, this isn’t quite as high but in its own category it’s way ahead. It definitely complements the experience nicely even if it has a simple focus and a stupid camera. At the end of the day, so many game based movies fall into an abyss of do not buy, it’s almost as if there’s giant monolith blocking the path and if so, this one found a way around it.

 

7.5 / 10 GOOD

+Exploring the environments stays fun

+Smart and strong presentation and look

+Communicates in a manner to keep track with kids and retains some hidden depth

-Poor camera

-Most activities become repetitive

 

TWiSTEDmerc

Ahhh I remember this game; really fun back in the day and one of the more enjoyable movie tie-ins.

It's a shame my copy broke.

Ha! This was a great game! The toy story games seem to have got it spot on! Toy Story 3 on the PS3/Xbox360 is also really good!!

Yeah I got this off the PSN after realising they put it up there :P Loved this game as a kid. I noticed though that it uses a lot of the stuff that the A Bug's Life game uses. Using the same engine probably, and same developers. Still, great game :D

Those games were. fantastic.

The house was so vibrant, the levels so playful, the scenarios so inventive. Honestly it was perfect subject matter - toys exploring the world. I'm actually a bit disappointing that the third movie went to day care... That doesn't detract though, that was one of the most successful "ages after" sequels imaginable.

 

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