Seemingly since the beginning of time, there hasn’t been a festive season that’s gone by where at least one publisher hasn’t reached into their box of previously released titles and decided to port one to a new format just in time for the Christmas rush. And that – unfortunately – is exactly what’s happened with Toy Story Mania! - a game which was first released for the Nintendo Wii in September 2009. Yes, 2009.
In case you aren’t familiar with that now sub-£10 Wii edition, Toy Story Mania! claims to be the first game to place characters from the Toy Story films into a carnival game setting. A claim which – unsurprisingly – it makes validly. Saying that, the claim is about the same as us saying that we’re the only Kinect-focused site that has a name that ends in “aku.” Regardless of the intellectual property or franchise, titles such as Carnival Games: In Action and its earlier iterations have shown that the idea isn’t an entirely worthless one. With a varied menu of activities, accurate motion detection, and some decent reasons to come back and play again and again, this could have been a real hoot.
If only that were the case. Toy Story Mania! takes that already somewhat narrow carnival game focus, and tightens it even further in order to focus pretty much solely on shooting galleries. Players have to hold their imaginary gun in front of themselves, and aim at the targets on screen until the timer runs out. Towards the end of the round, a larger target will appear that rewards repeated hits in a multiplier style. And, barring some horrendously broken mini-games that present themselves in-between stages, that’s all she wrote. Sure, there are different galleries to aim at and some of them contain different features, but the long and the short of it is that 90% of the package consists of taking potshots at metal targets on a still background.
Don’t get us wrong, the motion detection in those shooting galleries is pretty much spot on, and the presentation is absolutely top-notch with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story crew putting on a good old show. Targets are solid and the themed backdrops are well designed and perfectly in keeping with the franchise. Multiple players can join in the fun – no matter how limited it is – and for your little completionists, there are rewards to collect by taking part in multiple playthroughs. In fact, it’s quite disappointing that the shooting sections are so well crafted, as you begin to think about how good a full carnival game package would be if the developer were to put as much time into it.
But alas, Toy Story Mania! is nothing but a port of an already content-light game. The target audience is known to love repetition of course, but that just can't be an excuse. Mainly, due to the fact that players can pick up Disneyland Adventures or Kinect Rush (which features the Toy Story gang, amongst others) for less money, and still have funds free to spend on the excellent Puss in Boots or the addictive Fruit Ninja Kinect.
Toy Story Mania! could have been an interesting use of the fantastic IP. Unfortunately, the massively repetitive gameplay is far from endearing, and given that practically no improvements have been made from 2009’s Wii edition, there’s little to recommend here.