Mania never seems to be quite sure what it wants to be; an attempt to throw everything and anything into a Toy Story package or to be a game. It reeks of a rush job with a vast array of bugs here in 2012, let alone when it was originally released for the Wii back in September 2009 and its attempts at trying to take you back to the Disneyland experience is frankly pathetic. It doesn’t matter how many bright colours you throw into the TV screen, you are still playing on a TV, you ARE NOT at Disney Land and IT IS chucking it down outside.
The vitriol that I have for this game comes from the deep love I have for the franchise. Whether you were ten or thirty when the first Toy Story came out, we all grew up with its characters and we all got a bit teary eyed at the end of Toy Story 3 (regardless of the man points I will lose for admitting this)
Mania tries to replicate a Disneyland ride in its entirety, as you shoot targets with various point markers to rack up as high score as possible. Yet it is painfully obvious that you are not moving on a cart, regardless of the absolutely awful kinect shoe in it displays. The ‘story’ follows a party that the toys decide to have across themed levels, from space to the Wild West. Even as a party game, its rather poor and baffling that the ‘story’ moniker is even in place; the Mario Party games weren’t exactly worthy of Shakespeare, but at least they tried a heck of a lot more than Toy Story Mania does.
Menus are unintuitive and incredibly clunky and, when you have started any of the themed story modes, you cannot back out and revisit it later but instead have to go through the whole lot again. Every new mission you play has you go through the same ruddy training exercise of throwing pies at Woody and Buzz to test your aim; cute at first, painful the fourth or fifth time. The budget feel extends from every area of the game, with it being painfully obvious that almost none of the cast returned to voice any of their characters, and any of the cut scenes just rip characters straight out of the movie and overdub the original voice overs. Game play is stagnant and repetitive with content that is barely going to push the 2-3 hour mark. Kinect has once again been forced in; although the targeting is relatively good, dodging pies every few minutes is incredibly gimmicky.
Let’s face it though, it’s very unlikely that you will buy this for anyone other than a child. The themes are bright, colourful and well thought out, and the use of characters for the films, however badly, will likely be appreciated by the younger generation. Achievements come thick and fast which will perhaps give a few extra hours for the wee ones to collect them all, plumping up a very short lifespan. The game allows up to four players, good for a group, but, bizarrely, doesnt allow all four to play at the same time, with a rotation of two the maximum allowed. Surely it wouldn’t have been difficult to include two more targets for the other two players?
What makes it so difficult to recommend is that there are so many better children’s games that are more engaging, exciting, intuitive and not painstakingly bad to play with anyone older than seven . Epic Mickey 2 ,Puss in Boots are both aimed at the younger audience but make far better use of their IP than Mania does. Heck, even the Toy Story 3 tie-in was a much better homage to the franchise, and will be a lot cheaper than this three year rehash.
Is Toy Story Mania a good game? Well no, not really. Is Pixars amazing creation well represented by the styles, menus and cut scenes? Again no. As a little something extra to add to a birthday present, it just about works for the eyes of young gamers. Unfortunately, anyone with even a basic interest in games will register that this is far from the glory days of Buzz and Woody, and that this should probably stay in the bargain bin.