A well done "port" of the movie-based theme park attraction that should please Toy Story fans.
When Toy Story was first released in 1995, it wowed everyone thanks to its stunning use of CGI to create a new genre of animation. But what has truly kept the franchise alive and beloved for all these years was the charming characters and heartwarming story about loyalty and friendship. A 1999 sequel further solidified the movie franchise and made Pixar, the animation studio behind both films, a highly respected company. Following an October 2009 theatrical re-release of the first two films in 3D, and in anticipation of a third installment in 2010, a new Disney theme park attraction called Toy Story Mania opened. The concept behind this attraction is that you are taken to various shooting gallery challenges while riding in a carnival-themed cart and wearing 3D glasses. . The ride was popular enough that it warranted the release of a home version, in the form of Toy Story Mania for the Wii.
Like the theme park attraction, Toy Story Mania consists of various shooting gallery stages, each with its own theme and host character from the film. While some differ in theme, they all have the same concept: shoot as many targets as possible for a high score. Sometimes you will be shooting darts at balloons, while other times you will be tossing rings at targets. To add to the challenge, there are up to five objectives in each level, such as clearing a set number of targets or discovering a secret bonus. This is important to note, because if you achieve all of the objectives you unlock the mini-game for free play. On occasion, you will be asked to shake the Wii Remote to activate a special bonus. It doesn't get any simpler than this, but it's the simplicity of the gameplay that makes it fun and highly accessible for any gamer. In total there are over 25 stages, and up to four players can join in.
Toy Story Mania has three modes of play: Story mode, which has the player going through all of the game's stages in one sitting, Quick Play, which lets you play any of the unlocked games and finally, there prizes,, where players can unlock stages and stickers by redeeming the tickets they have earned during gameplay. In Quick Play there are even more options: you can either play through all of the unlocked stages or pick just one. You can even create your own set of stages based on personal preference.
As a bonus, the game tries to emulate the 3D feel of the attraction. Many of the stages have a 3D mode, which asks the player to wear the 3D glasses included with the game. The classic red-and-blue way of 3D viewing is used, meaning that it isn't as effective as the 3D technology used on the ride. It's a notable addition, but those looking for an experience similar to the ride may be disappointed.
Like many carnival-style games of its kind, Toy Story Mania is brief. While it tries to extend its length by adding additional mini-games not found in the attraction, players will see everything the game has to offer in less than an hour. The shooting can also become hectic and confusing. While it can make for a fun gaming session, at times there are just too many targets on screen. Adding to the confusion, occasionally the on-screen targeting device disappears whenever you change between foreground and background objects.
Toy Story Mania's best asset lies in the multiplayer mode. The accessibility of the title will help many gamers ease in into the game's world, but those playing solo will grow bored. Another problem is that the game has tacked-on motion controls. They don't ruin the overall game, and they do add some interactivity to what would have been a straight carnival-themed shooter, but Wii Remote shaking can get repetitive and tiring.
Despite its flaws, Toy Story Mania is a solid home version of the theme park attraction. It has all of the original stages re-created in a manner that takes advantage of the Wii Remote technology. The look and feel of the movies has been captured perfectly, thanks to colorful and clean graphics and easy-to-understand menus that look like they were ripped from the films. The Toy Story characters are present and accounted for, many of whom are voiced by the original actors from the film, giving the game an authentic feel.
Fans of the movies, Disney, and carnival-style games will find a lot to like about Toy Story Mania. Its loyalty to the franchise along with its accessible gameplay will make it an endearing addition to the Wii library. Everyone else, however, might feel disenchanted by its repetitive gameplay, problematic motion control, and overall brevity.