Review by Luke_Sky
A genuinely fun game for Toy Story fans!
I love Toy Story. I love all the characters, I love the situations they go through and I especially love the messages each movie contains regarding adulthood and maturity. However, I'm not here to rant about the films, I'm here to talk about Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear To The Rescue on N64.
Game-Play - TS2 is a pretty standard third person platform game. You play as Buzz Lightyear who completes a multitude of tasks and objectives to collect Pizza Planet tokens in order to advance through the levels. These can go from solving puzzles, collecting items or accomplishing difficult platform sections successfully. You also fight bosses along the way. You can attack with your laser beam or spin attack a la Crash Bandicoot and both attacks can be charged for additional damage at the cost of overheating/exertion. Also, if you find a missing piece from Mr Potato Head, you unlock a special upgrade which will help you explore hidden parts of a level, much like Blaster Master or Super Metroid. Ultimately, I really like this game in terms of it's basic structure. Interacting with the environment feels very nifty when everything around you is so large. It's also satisfying to defeat enemies with a single blast (even though they re-spawn shortly after) and accomplishing difficult tasks is very rewarding.
If I had any complaints, it fall in the platforming and boss departments. Some platforms are difficult to grasp onto and due to shaky camerawork, sometimes it gets frustrating to overcome certain obstacles. If I told you how many times I had to retry the bloody Alleys and Gutters stage just to reach the top of the buildings, you'd understand my frustration. Enemies and traps can also end up cluttering the screen, causing very little wiggle room when you're caught fighting five enemies all at once, slowing the game's dubious frame rate. In terms of bosses, they often boil down to inanimate objects who do nothing but try to run over you while flinging junk everywhere. There isn't much challenge or strategy other than shooting and running away, rinse and repeat. One boss is a giant slime monster inside a trash can that looks like something completely divorced from the Toy Story Universe and feels like something straight out of Ghostbusters! Also, some bosses can only be damaged by the spin attack, which, let's be honest, has a very limited attack range and dodgy hit detection which is why I often rely solely on my blaster for combat (which also has an incredibly useful Z-target lock which comes in handy in dire situations).
Graphics - If there's one thing the N64 often suffers from compared to other ports on the Dreamcast or Playstation, it's the graphical department. TS2 is no exception as, due to the low bit compression, the game cannot play cut scenes in FMV and many of the in-game graphics look very low in resolution. This isn't helped by the fact that many of the levels are dark and grey in design, making them very ugly. I will say though that some levels really do stand out, particularly Andy's Room (personally my favourite level) and Al's Toy Barn. It's also rather ingenious how you can see Buzz's reflection from inside his helmet any time you enter first person mode. Whoever thought of that tiny detail earns my respect!
Sound - The sound quality is pretty decent. You get your usual bells and whistles anytime you shoot, jump and climb your way around. It's nice to hear the coins drop and the enemies explode. The cherry on top is hearing some of the original cast reprise their roles as Tim Allen spouts off some of Buzz's best catchphrases (You're mocking me, aren't you?). Also it always cracks me up anytime Rex shouts BUZZ at the top of his lungs!
Music - Ah, hearing the original composition of "You Got A Friend In Me" by Randy Newman gives me an incredible feeling of nostalgia. It's 64-bit rendition is nice to listen to as you're running around Andy's Room. That adds tons of atmosphere to the level. The other music tracks however are often hit or miss and don't stick in my head as easily. It's also worth noting that all the music tracks loop infinitely as you wander around the stage so it often gets quite repetitive after a while.
Lasting Appeal - TS2 has shown a bit of it's age. The graphics are spotty and it's draw distance is a little off putting. However, if you're able to look past it, it's a pretty enjoyable game, especially for Toy Story fans. It's a relatively short game and I must admit, there isn't really any big prize at the end, even if you collect all 50 tokens. That's a little disappointing. Why even bother going through all the trouble then? At least unlocking new upgrades gives the game more room to explore.
Fun Factor - This will depend on how much you like Toy Story, yet I really enjoy visiting this game every so often. It's difficulty is just right, all the while staying friendly for younger players. Even just playing through Andy's Room is fun enough on it's own but getting the chance to say "Yes! I've defeated Zurg" after, well... defeating Zurg is also tremendously satisfying. Is it weird to take so much enjoyment out of a nearly 20 year old game made for children? No weirder than dressing up as a giant chicken and stealing from yard sales just to add the final piece to your toy collection... I'll leave you with that.
Overall Rating -
Game-Play: 8/10 - Standard platforming boosted by many environments to explore, but some platforming segments are frustrating to navigate.
Graphics: 5/10 - Sometimes murky, the N64 graphics are grainy with bad draw distance. Some levels are visually pleasing however (Andy's Room).
Sound: 7/10 - Decent sound design complimented by returning voice cast.
Music: 7.5/10 - Great rendition of "You Got A Friend In Me". Other songs are decent, yet tend to loop.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10 - Dated graphics and disappointing ending, replay value depends on enjoyment of the source material.
Fun Factor: 8.5/10 - The game is enjoyable to play through with a moderate difficulty and good fan service.
Final Verdict: 7/10 - GOOD
A surprisingly good movie based game which compliments the film it's based on, all the while containing all the fun of a conventional platform action game.
Product Release: Disney/Pixar Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue (US, 11/30/99)
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