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Wii've Got Toy Story Mania!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Toy Story Mania for Wii is never going to win over the hardcore gamers. But for a Disney freak like myself, and a Toy Story fanatic like my thirteen-year-old son, it's a must-have.

Toy Story Mania for Wii is an adaptation of the attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's California Adventure. It maintains the shooting gallery theme of the attraction, and includes modified versions of the attraction's mini-games, while adding original content such as a pinball game, a "find the coin under the cup" game, and a tilt-table game. A ticket redemption center is added, where you can cash in the tickets you've earned for each round of mini-games to unlock additional mini-games, or buy stickers and sticker book pages.

Within the mini-games, you not only need to score a certain number of points to pass, but also meet additional objectives that are explained before you begin each game. For example, you might need to break at least two golden plates, or bonk some number of brontosauri back into the water. Moving through Story Mode, you're presented with a number of mini-games in sequence, much like the Parks attractions.

The navigational menus are a bit weak, and while the child's toys theme is appealing, it's sometimes hard to figure out how to access what you're looking for. A bit more labeling would have been a quite welcome addition. The gameplay itself also has significant weaknesses; you can beat most of the mini-games by simply mashing the A button and swinging your wiimote randomly around the screen. This complete lack of a strategic element will keep the game off most gamers' wish lists.

But no matter....I'm not a serious gamer, I'm a Disney freak who wants a little taste of the Parks at home, and Toy Story Mania's got me covered there. I'd pre-ordered the game Monday to ensure I got the Toy Story Mania wiimote faceplates from GameStop, picked it up Tuesday on my way to work, and despite putting in a full workday and picking up my dad at the airport Tuesday evening had still managed to find enough time with my son for the two of us to earn enough tickets to unlock 80% of the game. By Wednesday evening, everything was unlocked, and we'd turned to collecting stickers. I'm sure he'll still humor me by playing along when I'm jonesing for the Parks and just need a little fix,  but now that we've unlocked everything (at least, everything we're aware of) I suspect neither of us will be playing as obsessively as we did for those first couple days.

The hunt for Easter Eggs will no doubt draw me back though, especially once lists of Easter Eggs start turning up online (I'm rarely adept enough to find them myself for the first time). The Easter Egss in the Parks attraction are one of my favorite features. One cute thing we did spot, though: In one of the sticker books, one can buy a sticker of the little blue bird from the short, "For the Birds."

If you're a Disney freak and enjoy the Toy Story Mania Parks attractions, I'd definitely recommend spending the 50 bucks and considering it a way to relive the magic. If you're a gamer, this might be a fun party game if you don't take it too seriously, and just groove on the silly graphics and objectives. But don't go thinking this is gonna replace Call of Duty anytime soon.