Yesterday was kind of a great day for Kingdom Hearts fans. Not only did they get the news that their beloved sequel would, in fact, be coming out next year (pending any delays, obviously), but they also got introduced to a terrific new game world, taking place in Pixar’s triumphant Toy Story. Yep, we saw battles alongside Woody and Buzz, both inside Andy’s room and outside his house, and it left us rocked.
Granted, this isn’t the first time that we’ve been pleased by a Toy Story property in a video game, as the series actually has a rich history of innovative game releases over the past few years. So, as a tribute to all things toys (and a nod to our favorite restaurant, Pizza Planet), we’ve put together a list of the best Toy Story video games that we’ve seen over the past few years. And there are a few you may not have even known about.
So let’s check out the list and see just how well these guys fared over the past few years.
Following the release of Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, developers were given a new challenge in terms of how a platforming game should be designed. That said, Travellers Tales – the team behind many of the Lego games making the rounds – were up to the task with the fun side-scrolling game Toy Story. Featuring Woody in a 3D style setting (but with classic 2D gameplay), the game proved to be a tremendous hit with fans and kids alike, and also gave you some great driving stages with R.C. as well. Even though the controls weren’t quite everyone’s speed, the game did a serviceable job bringing Woody and Buzz to the world of gaming.
For the follow-up to Toy Story, Travellers Tales opted to create more of a 3D adventure this time around, giving player the control of a different character, Buzz Lightyear, as he attempts to save Woody. It was clear that the team was inspired by previous platforming games yet again, as the 3D approach really paid off when it came to providing an added layer of depth to the gameplay. Some people weren’t too fond of it, considering the abundance of other 3D platformers on the markets, but fans felt right at home diving back into the world of Toy Story. They had a friend in Buzz.
The team would later return for Buzz Lightyear of Star Command just a year later for the PlayStation and Dreamcast, featuring more of a space-themed motif. It was okay, but some players preferred Toy Story 2.
At a time when kart racers were all the rage on the market, Disney and Travellers Tales capitalized with a Toy Story-themed racing game for the Game Boy Color. Why it didn’t come to other platforms is beyond us, but the game featured a number of great tracks, along with a cast of diverse characters and plenty of racing options. Despite the fact it never reached sales numbers similar to that of Mario Kart 64, it still pleased a great deal of older and younger fans, and critics praised it for its balanced difficulty, track layout and overall design. That said, some repetition did set in with its single player mode, so it wasn’t quite perfect. Still, a win’s a win.
Avalanche Software took over on development for the third chapter of the Toy Story franchise, and it’s a move that paid off in spades. The team was clever enough to feature a full-fledged single player adventure in the game, featuring a number of playable characters. But, along with that, it also introduced a new Toy Box mode, where players could unlock theme packs, buildings and other goodies and put together their own little world within the game. It became such an innovative model – and one that was praised by critics and fans alike – that it would later serve as the base for Disney’s Infinity series, where players are able to experience adventures and build their own levels however they see fit. It was definitely better than a lot of other movie fare that was released on the market at the time.
A number of playsets were released for Disney’s toys-to-life adventure game over the years, but many fans couldn’t help but pick up the Toy Story set, which took the gang into outer space and featured the likes of Woody, Buzz and Woody’s sister Jessie, introduced in Toy Story 2. The set turned out to be a lot of fun, providing a number of challenges for players while also giving them the option to, well, play with their toys.
Infinity was a hit for several years, with two sequels – Marvel and Star Wars – following after – but Disney shut it down soon after, citing financial reasons for its closure. Still, fans can buy complete sets on Steam for a pretty good price, and play with Woody and Buzz again if they feel compelled.
Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure- Inspired by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Activision’s skating game features a number of Disney characters, including Buzz from Toy Story, as well as characters from The Lion King and Tarzan. Unfortunately, it didn’t become a hit as much as Activision was expecting, thanks mainly to lackluster controls.
Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure- In the height of the Kinect’s popularity on Xbox 360, Microsoft teamed with Disney for an interactive adventure featuring a number of scenarios from Disney/Pixar films, including the Toy Story saga. It was pretty good, but hardly innovative. Kids enjoyed it, though.
Toy Story Mania!- This collection of carnival-based mini-games released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2009, featuring a number of theme park attractions and activities for younger players to get into. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t as good a game as previously released Toy Story titles. An Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 motion supported version arrived in 2012, but didn’t fare much better.