Toy Story: Smash It! Review
As Pixar's Toy Story franchise is still one of the most revered film sagas, it makes sense for Disney to try and capitalize on the license in any way, shape, or form it can. While more Toy Story would almost always be a good thing, that's not the case with Toy Story: Smash It!
The Angry Birds phenomenon has led to many developers trying to capitalize on the success of that physics-based title. Disney is the latest to fall victim to attempting its own twist on the formula without much success. In Toy Story: Smash It! players assume the role of Buzz Lightyear, who has to knock the little claw machine aliens off of structures built in Andy's room. The premise is simple enough, and the other characters do make some cameos, but for the most part, this is a Buzz Lightyear affair.
Eschewing the 2D plane in favor of a full 3D world, Smash It! actually has an impressive look. The game isn't hyper-detailed, but in bringing the action into three dimensions, Disney is able to keep the Toy Story characters in their familiar fully-rendered manifestations. Going the 2D route could have allowed a bit more creativity in the design, but that's not Toy Story's style. It's good to see no concessions to the look were made merely because Smash It! is a mobile game.
The game's puzzles take place over four different stages (with a fifth apparently coming down the line), each with a unique theme. The building blocks and pieces that you'll have to knock down remain the same throughout each area, but there are little cardboard cutout flourishes used to give each a bit of personality. "Zurg's Return" features space ships, "Most Wanted" has some old west bank vaults, and so on. For the most part, the puzzles are the star of the game, and as a result the levels all begin to blur and blend together. You hardly spend any time focused on the background noise, as you're often just taking the time to learn how to best approach each given puzzle. The look doesn't really begin wear on you until a dozen or so levels in, but by the time you reach your fiftieth, it's tough to even care that it's in a "new" location.
Since the game isn't just relegated to one perspective, players can move Buzz around a limited launching area in an effort to discover better shot angles. This is actually the best part of the game, as it is the only aspect that really gives the genre a new wrinkle. There are often multiple solutions to being incredibly efficient, and Smash It! gives you great freedom to try strategies other than changing the vertical degree of attack.
Buzz also has a handful of different throwing objects to use to his advantage. The traditional Pixar ball is the default/basic weapon. There are also some projectiles with different properties that spice up the gameplay a bit. The drill can barrel through any surface with ease. The balloon can be used to get into tight spots, then expand to topple everything over. Getting the timing right for detonation on the special weapons can be a challenge at first, as the depth is often hard to gauge in 3D. Once you figure it out though, it's pretty satisfying to blow away an entire construct by inflating a balloon inside it.
Unfortunately, for as entertaining as Smash It! is in short bursts, it's also incredibly repetitive. Knock blocks down. Move on. Knock blocks down. Move on. Doing the same thing over and over again grows tiresome, even if there are different tools to use or new cardboard pictures in the background. The Toy Story films are anything but dull, and Smash It! could have benefited from some of the life and overflowing charisma the movies had. All it would have taken was perhaps some animations or a tiny bit of voice over; something to pull you out of that "aim, fire, reload" zombie haze.
All told, Toy Story: Smash It! is a solid if unspectacular title. It does everything exactly like it should, and plays perfectly fine. There's just not much substance to the overall game. The twist Disney incorporates to stand out is a good one, but the unimpressive worlds don't take advantage of being brought to life in 3D nearly well enough. Disney's standards are much higher for their films, particularly when it comes to Pixar. It's a shame to see that doesn't translate to its games.