Toy Story (video game)
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Super NES cover
|Composer(s)||Andy Blythe & Marten Joustra, Allister Brimble (SNES)|
Toy Story is a side-scrolling platform game released by Disney Interactive Studios in 1995 for the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and Microsoft Windows. It is based on the film of the same name, and follows its plot. The game was followed by a sequel based on the second film, called Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue.
The game closely follows the plot of Toy Story, with a few minor differences.
It's the day of Andy's birthday party, and his toys are riled up about the possible newcomers and their potential replacement. In an effort to calm their nerves, Sheriff Woody sends a troop of green army men, along with a baby monitor, to report. The mission goes over smoothly; however, they receive an abrupt warning that Andy is returning to his room, sending everyone in a frenzy to return to their positions. Once things have settled down and Andy has left the room, the toys find a lone newcomer: Buzz Lightyear. They are impressed with him and his features and Hamm decides that Woody and Buzz should have a race to settle their argument. Buzz wins the race, but Woody, still unfazed, challenges Buzz to fly around the room with his eyes closed, which Buzz does. Woody finds that he is being replaced by this newcomer in status, both in the eyes of the toys and of Andy, and is relegated to the toybox. He begins to have nightmares about Buzz (which never happens in the film version, but was based on a deleted scene) which he ends up confronting.
Jealous of all the attention Buzz has been getting, and wanting to be brought by Andy to Pizza Planet, Woody grabs R.C. and then he knocks Buzz out the window, leading to all the other toys' ire at him. Woody manages to escape from the angered toys with the help of Rex as he does not like confrontations. Woody is chosen by Andy as the toy to go to Pizza Planet, but during a stop at the gas station Buzz hops in the van and attacks Woody. However, Woody defeats Buzz by trapping him in a spare tire. However, Andy and his mother leave, without noticing their absence.
Woody and Buzz hitch a ride on a Pizza Planet van to return to Andy. Once there, the two toys disguise themselves as litter and sneak into Pizza Planet, avoiding contact with humans. Buzz sneaks into a claw machine, mistaking it for a rocket to return to his home planet; Woody sneaks in the coin slot and works through the hazardous innards in pursuit. Woody is greeted by the aliens inside, who task him with saving some of their own, lost even deeper inside the machine. Woody is successful with the task and the aliens thank him. However, Sid Phillips, Andy's neighbor and notorious toy destroyer, notices Buzz in the claw machine and tries to fetch him out. Woody delays Buzz's capture by launching the Aliens at the claw, but is unable to prevent it, and instead goes along with him.
Woody and Buzz try to escape from Sid's room, which is overrun with metal bugs and live firecrackers. Sid occasionally pops in to torture Woody by setting his head on fire, sending Woody dashing for a nearby bowl of cereal to douse it. Woody and Buzz have a run-in with Sid's collection of mutilated toys, keeping them back with Buzz's karate-chop action. Sid decides to destroy Buzz with a large rocket, and takes him away. To save him, Woody then befriends the toys, and riding on the back of Roller Bob, sneaks out into Sid's backyard, dodging various pieces of litter and Sid's dog, Scud.
Woody saves Buzz, but the movers leave without either toy. Woody manages to catch up to the truck, but Buzz falls behind. Woody finds R.C., hops on his back on the road, and drives back for Buzz. Securing him, they proceed to ride R.C. back to the truck. However, R.C. runs out of batteries. Buzz and Woody light the rocket on Buzz's back, cutting it off once they gain enough airspeed and glide all the way back to the van of Andy's mother. The two toys have gotten over their differences over the course of this adventure, and go on to be good friends in Andy's new house.
Players control Woody through several stages (17 for the Super Nintendo version, 18 for the Genesis/Mega Drive version, and 10 for the Game Boy version) that encompass the entire plot of the film. Several obstacles lie between the player and the goal of each level, not least of which is a wide assortment of enemies. Woody is equipped with a pullstring whip, which will temporarily "tie up" opponents, letting Woody pass by unharmed. It cannot, however, kill enemies (with the lone exception of Nightmare Buzz, the only boss in the game to be permanently defeated through the whip). This whip can also latch onto certain hooks, letting Woody swing above perilous terrain (similar to Earthworm Jim and its whip mechanics).
The game occasionally changes genres for a stage. Players control R.C. in two stages: one in which Woody knocks Buzz out a window, the other in which they both race back to the moving truck. Both play largely the same; the game takes an overhead view of the level, giving the players basic acceleration, braking and steering, and tasking players with reaching the end of the stage while not running out of batteries (which drain constantly, but can be replenished by bumping them out of Buzz in the former stage, and merely finding them on the ground in the latter). The Mega Drive/Genesis version also has an exclusive level in which Woody rides R.C.'s back while rushing back to Sid's house to fetch Buzz; this stage plays very similar to OutRun, but has the same condition of maintaining a battery level. Lastly, one stage takes place in a first-person maze similar to Wolfenstein 3D, in which Woody must find alien squeaky toys lost inside the claw machine and return them to the play area, where the rest of the alien toys reside, all within a time limit.
Differences between versions
The Genesis and SNES versions of the game are largely identical, aside from the usual differences that multiplatform titles of the time had (i.e.: the Genesis had fewer colors on screen, while the SNES had lower-quality (32 kHz) sound and up to 256 colors, albeit at a lower horizontal screen resolution, which in turn crops out 32 pixels from each side of the play-field). However, the Genesis and PC versions have an extra level that the SNES version does not, "Day-Toy-Na", in which Woody rides R.C. from the moving van to Buzz. The Genesis version includes an extra music file not present during gameplay on the SNES, "You've Got a Friend in Me" for the cutscenes. This track is however present on Game Boy and PC and is in the SNES files. In addition, the Genesis and PC versions had a voice clip (Buzz Lightyear: "To infinity and beyond!") upon starting the game. This was absent on the SNES and Game Boy. The PC version is similar to the Genesis version, apart from having the "Really Inside the Claw Machine" level missing alongside numerous graphical effects, but its music still remains in the game files and is now played via Compact Disc Digital Audio and composed with synthesizers such as E-mu Systems' Proteus 2. It also sports a new save system where the player may skip to any level at any time, and the bonus game is missing as well; getting all stars in a level now nets an extra life and a health refill, and they are no longer cumulative. The Game Boy version is the shortest version of the game with 10 levels.
Toy Story was met with mixed to positive reviews. It was praised for its impressive visuals, varied gameplay, and the PC version's enhanced soundtrack, but criticized for its poor control and uneven difficultly, with some levels which reviewers found to be too frustratingly difficult, particularly for the young target audience. The visuals were best received on the Sega Genesis version due to the game's 3D-rendered graphics, which had several precedents on the SNES and PC but were completely new to the Genesis. Critics were varied in their overall impressions; GamePro concluded that "Despite the stunning graphics, Toy Story's uninspiring gameplay makes for merely fleeting fun", while Game Informer decreed the game "a humorous and fun adventure that will certainly entertain everyone in the whole family."
In retrospect, many players and Super NES and Genesis/Mega Drive fans have considered Toy Story a classic despite numerous flaws.
According to Disney Interactive, the Super NES and Genesis versions were both "tremendous successes", though a Super NES chip shortage prevented them from producing as many copies of the Super NES version as they believed they could have sold.
The Game Boy version received little coverage. A brief review in GamePro opined that it did not live up to the legacy of the film and previous versions of the game, citing "plodding and repetitive" gameplay, rudimentary graphics, and the inaccuracy of Woody's drawstring.
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