This month, you can welcome Toy Story 3, the first great sandbox game for younger gamers. The sandbox genre of games lets you choose and even create your own kind of adventure. It sets you free to do exactly what you want to do — your way.
|TOY STORY 3: THE VIDEO GAME
Disney Interactive for PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS, PSP
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 8.7
Official Web Site
Pros:Toy Box mode is great; really imaginative; many hours of play.
Cons: Some camera-angle issues; super-thin instruction booklet; no online play.
There are two ways to play Toy Story 3. First, you can play in story mode. That game follows the tale of Pixar’s new movie (which is probably the best movie of the summer). That portion, which follows the movie’s plot, is pretty brilliant itself.
In the movie, Andy is heading off to his first year in college. But he only wants to take Woody with him. When Andy’s mom accidentally places Woody in a box to be donated to a daycare center, the action-filled story begins.
That’s how it is in your game, too.
TOY BOX MODE
Then there’s the sandbox aspect called Toy Box mode. When you relive that exciting first scene from the movie, you’re transported to the Wild West to jump on a horse and leap onto a moving locomotive. You pass amazing rock formations under a big blue sky in a sprawling desert.
As Woody, you have to save the orphans from the clutches of Hamm The Piggy Bank, who has changed into his alter ego of the evil Dr. Porkchop. He shoots at you from a flying saucer.
Think of this level as a wild roller-coaster ride. For 10 minutes or so, you ride through canyons and caves, twist through crazy train tracks and then run on the tops of train cars. Save those orphans, bucko. They’re just blocky toy figures, but you feel they need you. The whole thing is exhilarating—and can be a little dark and scary in spots.
Actually, all this action occurs during your first tutorial level in which you learn how to use the controller. Bouncing balls are your ammunition against the aliens and Hamm. You probably won’t need it, but crash open a little box with a question mark on it and a see-through image of Woody moving forward appears, showing you what to do next.
MISSIONS AND MUCH MORE
After you finish the opening level, you’re dropped into a Western town where you get dozens of missions from various characters like Stinky Pete, who shows you how to mine for gold with an axe.
Finish another mission and you might get Bullseye the horse to ride on. Once you jump on, race for a bronze, silver or gold medal. I spent a half hour on this alone, trying to beat my time while following a burning red ring through dimly lit mines and up through vast mountains.
All the things that you win from missions go into your Toy Box. And that’s where Toy Story 3 gets really interesting. You win and purchase all sorts of gifts like hats and colors to paint the buildings of the town. With the money that you earn from completing missions, you can buy things such as a barbershop. In the barbershop, you can give townspeople the strangest, funniest haircuts.
But there’s so much more.
You travel through those mines and encounter creepy but funny ghosts. You find a car to race around in. You customize your town and its hilarious residents. And you get to really get to know some of the crazy characters who appear in only a minor way in the movie.
A FEW GLITCHES
There are a couple of glitches, however. If you fall during the race on Bullseye, you might get caught in a canyon. You can get out, but the camera angles down in the gully aren’t very helpful. What the camera really should do is pull back so you know where to go. It’s in these instances that you really need that box with a question mark that tells Woody which path to take. But it’s not there.
Also, since this is one of the first sandbox games for kids, you’d think the manual would be thicker and packed with info (like Super Mario Galaxy 2’s booklet). Instead, you get some measly pages that really aren’t detailed enough. Sure, the in-game tutorials are good. But why skimp on the print? It makes no sense.
Despite these things, Toy Story 3 is a landmark game. It’ll provide you with fun “to Infinity and beyond!”