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Review: Toy Story Mania

September 1, 2009



img_1004 If you have ever visited Disney's California Adventure Park in Anaheim, or Walt Disney World in Orlando, then you'll certainly agree that Toy Story Mania, a dark ride in 3D hosted by Toy Story characters, is one of the best attractions there. Toy Story Mania consists of aiming and firing at multiple, moving targets that are played on various large screens throughout the ride, all themed to the current level. As if playing Toy Story Mania only during visits to the Disney parks in California and Florida wasn't enough, they have now ported the game to the iPhone. The iPhone application consists of the same basic premise: Fire at targets which are themed to specific Toy Story characters, but the game is so much more than that, as is obvious from its numerous and quality features.


img_1035The first thing I noticed when I opened this application was its superbly advanced graphics. The graphics are stunning. During gameplay, as well as within the menus, full animation is present, interactive and alive. The graphics are almost PSP quality. Definitely some of the best graphics I have seen for the platform yet. Another wonderful feature of TSM for the iPhone is its variation from level to level. There are a total of 5 levels: Hamm'n Eggs, Bo Peep's Baaa-loon Pop, Green Army Men Shoot Camp, Buzz Lightyear's Flying Tossers, and Woody's Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gallery. Although all of these levels are same in the fact that you are firing at targets, they all differ immensely from one another. They differ from each other in the objects thrown, the targets, the controls (including slide or shake to reload), the music, and the overall 'feel' of each level. This variation keeps the game constantly fresh and new, allowing for almost unlimited replayability. As mentioned previously, each level differs when it comes to its soundtrack, but what a soundtrack! The game's soundtrack is basically the universally known Toy Story theme You've Got a Friend In Me by the talented Randy Newman, but the song is tweaked just enough in order to match each level. This provides a very nice touch, which keeps the game new, but also helps to immerse the player into the game. The sound effects are very well-made and help with the entire gaming experience as well.


The controls for this game are borderline revolutionary. Each game utilizes different controls which vary from a somewhat boring 'tap on the target' to a very natural yet advanced 'pull back for power while aiming then release' control system to toss eggs at cardboard farm animals. These controls are so natural and intuitive that I feel as if I am actually tossing a baseball at an army plate, or a ring over a Little Green Man. Yet another great feature is the ability to buy prizes with Stars won during gameplay. These prizes help you to play the levels. For instance, for 49 Stars (which I was able to earn in about 15-20 minutes of playing the game) I can purchase the Multi Shot Eggs which allow me to shoot three eggs at a time (instead of one) for 10 seconds during the Hamm'n Eggs egg toss game. The prize booth is a very good idea, and gives the gameplay more purpose and lets you set goals for yourself, making the game seem more worthwhile. The last feature worth noting is that each individual level has its own High Scores, Free Play mode, and Challenge mode. High Scores, regrettably, only show local high scores and not worldwide. There are several versions of Free Play mode within each level which range from restricting the time limit to the ammunition limit. This is similar to how the Challenge mode works, which also restricts either time or ammo, but the Challenge must be beaten in order to continue in the game. Very fun and interactive, with lots of possibilities.

The Good:img_1027

It's pretty obvious that Toy Story Mania for the iPhone has a lot of great things going for it. Mainly, it has a bunch of really outstanding features: advanced graphics and animation, almost unlimited replayability, some of the most intuitive and creative controls when it comes to iPhone gaming, lots of variation from level to level, an immersive soundtrack accompanied by superb sound effects, a prize booth which provides the player with motivation, and several different playing modes. But these features aren't what makes this game great. Don't take that the wrong way—these features are amazing and make Toy Story Mania possibly my favorite game for the iPhone, but I think something else may also be lending a hand to make me love this game. This 'something else' is simply the application's tie-in to Toy Story. img_1018I love Toy Story. It is the first film made by the first (and best) CG Animation company ever, Pixar. It has a marvelous story with brilliant characters and awe-inspiring animation. It is a film that I grew up loving and still love today, and the fact that this game for the iPhone utilizes these characters to describe the rules and uses the film's soundtrack during gameplay makes the game an infinitely better application for the iPhone.

The Bad:

There aren't too many bad things to mention, but as with any application, there are some minor things that would bring Toy Story Mania up a few notches. The first is that, although the game has truly magnificent graphics, it seems like these graphics occasionally bog down the application to the point where it is almost unplayable due to freezing and lagging. This can easily be fixed by closing and re-opening the application, but, obviously, it'd be much better if the problem wasn't present at all. However, I am playing the game on an iPhone 3G, and I assume that the more advanced 3GS would handle the game a little bit better—something to keep in mind. Although I love the soundtrack, it does get a little bit, well, annoying after playing the application for over 30 minutes or so. But the great thing about this game (as with many other games), is that the sound is not crucial to playing the game, although it does lend the immersiveness to the app (but only during the first half and hour when it's not annoying). img_1015 There isn't much else I can say negatively about this application except for the fact that, although each level keeps the game fresh and new, the overall premise of firing at targets can get a tad old after playing the game laboriously for a few days straight. But don't worry—just leave the game alone for 3 days or so and then it won't be old anymore.


img_1029Although it doesn't match its theme park counterpart, Toy Story Mania for the iPhone is as good as it gets when it comes to a mobile version of the electronic midway game. It has a slew of interactive, intuitive, differing, and immersive features. One of these features which hasn't been mentioned yet makes me very curious: There is a button within the application which looks at your current location, and, if you are at the Toy Story Mania Attraction in California or Florida, the app provides you with 'special' Toy Story wallpapers. I have been unable to try this out seeing as I am a couple of hundred miles away from the attraction, but I am sure that the wallpapers are worth pushing a button for. The features and Toy Story tie-in of this application make it one of almost unlimited replayability, addiction, and, most of all, fun. I highly recommend downloading this application, and also visiting the attraction at California Adventure or Walt Disney World if you haven't yet—it is absolutely wonderful, and even better than the application.

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