Wii of the weekend: ‘Toy Story Mania!’

Well, this is a huge letdown. A Toy Story game? How could that be less than awesome, I thought. And yet it’s not only disappointingly mundane and simplistic, it also has just about nothing to do with Toy Story. I was hoping for, I dunno, maybe a chance to explore Andy’s room, maybe have to figure out how to get his toys to work together to solve some puzzles or rescue Slinky or Mr. Potato Head from the mean kid next door. You know, something that feels like Toy Story.

Instead, there’s nothing here but a collection of midway games, ring tosses and balloon popping and such. Woody and Buzz and the gang “host” the games, and offer encouragements while you’re playing, but that’s it. It could just as easily be Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny hosting the games. Apparently the game is inspired by a ride at Disney World — which also, frankly, doesn’t look like it has much to do with the movies either — that folks say is a lot of fun. It’s been 20 years since I was at Disney World, though I don’t doubt that the attraction is a blast — the Disney rides are enormously entertaining. But I’d never have guessed from the game that it’s based on a theme-park attraction.
I’m sure Toy Story Mania! would be great for little kids, but I found the gameplay unchallenging — it was ridiculously simple to get through levels — and yet hugely frustrating: even though the game asked me for a name (you don’t use a Mii here) and was saving my progress, if I quit the game and came back later, I had to start all over again. I couldn’t even skip over the practice level, which was really annoying. And I did have to quit a couple of times because the game either crashed or the Wii remote wasn’t responding correctly. (I thought this might be a problem with my remote, that it needed to be recalibrated or that the batteries were running down, but neither of those seemed to be at issue: something about the game appeared to be lacking in the proper sensitivity needed to play.)

I’ve played other games that are good for the whole family, that little kids and experienced grownup players can have equal fun with, but this ain’t one of them. Good thing I only rented it from GameFly…

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