IGN Preview of Toy Story Mania!
If you've had a chance to go on the Toy Story ride at Disneyland (or World) you've undoubtedly came away with the same idea I did on my first time through it; this thing needs to turn into a game. With a mix of 3D visuals wrapped up in a familiar Toy Story setting, the Disney crew have managed to wrangle up one of the most interactive "rides" in theme park history. Folks that have traversed the Buzz Lightyear ride have already had a taste of what it's all about, offering some basic laser tag inspired shooting with a scoreboard that links to internet photo posting, and park vs. park leaderboards. With the Toy Story ride though, that's all taken to the next level, adding in full 3D, air, weather, and wind effects to draw players into the game, and a light gun offering that anyone can get into.
So it should be no surprise that the first thing I thought of when stepping off the ride about a year ago was "Wow… where's the Wii or Plug n Play game?" Apparently Disney was thinking the same thing, as the folks at the park teamed with Disney Interactive Studios to create just that. Are you ready for a new chart-topper? It's on the way in the form of Toy Story Mania, a game that blends the designs found in classic light gun shooters with the ride itself, and sprinkles in a little Boom Blox to boot. It's a pretty basic game, and yeah, it's another mini-game fest, but it'll also be selling in the store located right after the ride ends, so you can bet we'll see it heading into millions of homes shortly after release.
Toy Story Mania! is based heavily off the "Midway" park ride, and that's evident right off the bat. Like the ride, players can hop into the main game and take aim at a bunch of different movie-inspired areas. There's dart throwing, ring toss, pie chucking, and a whole lot more. Just like the ride itself though, this one is all about firing and calibrating yourself, with each mini-game using different drop and distance values for whatever you're throwing/tossing/shooting. The ride itself is all about shooting and adjusting, finding hidden Easter eggs within the ride and scoring huge points. The same can be said for this.
Part of that decision though makes for a somewhat odd gameplay design. We'll see how it all works in the end (our hands-on time was brief), but the game offers no on-screen cursor. Just like the ride itself, players have to fire and adjust, and while it feels like it's IR-based it can be pretty tough to zero on in on your shots. It's an interesting decision, and we'll see if it pans out in the end, but we certainly didn't expect it for what's basically a family-friendly game. If the goal was to hit the "fire and adjust" design of the ride though, it translates here for sure.
As mentioned our hands-on time was brief, and only included a few different levels. Darts are pretty basic, as was the ring toss game, but each featured scrolling levels and lots of Toy Story fanfare. There wasn't as much going on in-game as there was in the ride, so hopefully there's more time to add bigger effects and more action overall, but the spokesperson from Disney did let us know that they are working with a strong CG team to make sure there's movie-like quality in the presentation and story sequences. What we saw with Mania thus far is just a taste.
Outside of the main game there are also mini-game offerings as well, with one of those being the very Boom Blox inspired level we tried at the pre-E3 event. In this area, players lock on using a cursor, and then flick forward to toss the ball at a stand of rotating blocks built up in a tower. The more blocks you knock over, the higher the score. There were also a few Easter eggs in the background as well, allowing you to hit other objects in the world (off a rebound or directly) to gain more points or additional balls for more turns. It was simple in design, and not as deep as what you're going to find in EA's offering, but considering that's just one of many mini-games in the package it was well implemented, and had put the physics engine to good use.
Toy Story Mania is still in development, but if our pre-E3 showing says anything about the final product fans of the Disney ride should be greeted with a pretty competent – though not as impressive as the high budget, huge cost ride itself – offering when they step off the Midway event in Disneyland's California adventure. We'll have more on the game as it develops, and you can bet the farm on this one selling very, very well.
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