The first Disney game with a sniper mode - Review By Subskin
There's a shortage of ten-year-old reviewers here at PlanetDreamcast. When Toy Story 2 came out, we voted on who is the most childish, whiny, half-witted reviewer on the staff. After a little deliberation (and BenT suspiciously eyeing all of his coworkers), the vote was almost unanimous. Subskin by a landslide!
So, here I am, running through a Disney game marketed almost exclusively for pre-teen gamers. After years of desensitizing myself to violence through Resident Evil and Dead or Alive, I wasn't sure if I was ready to be "nice." "Nice" is for kiddies. "Nice" is boring. "Nice" is for those poor bastards who only have N64s. Such were the thoughts going through my head when I popped Toy Story 2 into the Dreamcast. As such, you might find my conclusions all the more surprising.
Well, know that this is not one of them.
Above all else, Toy Story 2 is designed for a younger audience. Right off the bat Disney includes a full screen reminder that the game is rated "E for Everyone." Don't read too much into that "Everyone" statement; Toy Story 2 is for twenty-year-olds like Kingpin is for five-year-olds. That is, not at all. To capture this pre-spin the bottle crowd, Toy Story 2 features cutscenes from the actual film. The short clips are about thirty to fifty seconds, rendered in great mpeg video with very little loss of quality. In fact, the clips in Toy Story 2 are the most crisp I've yet seen on the Dreamcast. Disney certainly knows how to draw little kids around a screen: my six-year-old niece stared in wide-eyed fascination at these action and comedy sequences. Disney even included a very simple theater where all the clips can be viewed.
The movie clips look pristine.
The in-game graphics are also tailored to the young crowd. Adequately-modelled characters look very close to their big-screen counterparts. And Toy Story 2 includes all that wonderful product placement that was both humorous and profitable in the film -- Mr. Potato Head, the slinky dog, and even an o. Even the Etch-a-sketch plays a significant part in the game. Using the Etch-a-sketch as a background, Disney pulled off one of the coolest level select screens I've ever seen. In the Etch-a-sketch's screen, simple 3D renderings using scratchy "Etch-a-Sketchish" lines display the various levels. With moderate Crayola-like color, the level select screen was totally appealing even to a jaded old gamer like me. Such a quick, intuitive, and fun system reminds me of when instruction manuals were for wussies.
The graphics aren't overly wonderful, but kids should like the instantly-recognizable characters.
After you punch in the level, Toy Story 2 shows a full-screen still image of characters from the film. Staring at smiling plastic dinosaurs doesn't do a whole lot for me, but it's the kind of things little kids drool over. Actually, Toy Story 2's young audience is likely to drool without a prompt. The levels themselves are big, non-linear, and fully 3D. In the course of the game you get to explore everything from kitchens to swimming pools to construction yards, all from a toy's perspective. The goal on each level is to find five "Pizza Planet" tokens (Pizza Planet is apparently a fictional Chuck E. Cheese type place, since Chuck E. wouldn't cough up the cash to have its name in the film. By the way: I am the skee-ball God). Luckily, the game is kept easy enough for Junior in that you only have to find one of the five tokens to move on to the next level.
Collecting each token requires you to complete a different task. Some of the tasks are educational, like deciding which paint colors will mix to form orange. (Can I phone a friend?) Others are violent, like beating a friendly kite to death. For other tokens, you have to talk to your toy friends. They sit around and scream your name until you help them, and then they'll flip you a token. I found this completely annoying -- hearing some pink pig yell "Hey Buzz!" every three seconds is not my idea of a good time. Then that six-year-old niece came by... and loved it. Every time the pig spoke up, she giggled, pointed at the screen and yelled, "Piggy bank!" Like I said, Disney knows little kids.
Next: More Good, The Bad, and The Final Word