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Toy Story Racer

Score: 40%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Tiertex Design Studios
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

The single most impressive thing to me about Activision's latest Toy Story game in collaboration with Disney Interactive is the graphics presentation. Looking at the credits for Toy Story Racer shows Tiertex Design Studios as being responsible for graphics and design; they really did a fantastic job. I'm always (less so now) fairly skeptical about the prospect of first person perspective games on Game Boy Color, but Toy Story Racer looks very convincing. It's easy to get sucked into the fast-moving scenery and lose track (no pun intended) of where you are. Not because things are poorly designed, but just because there's a whole heck of a lot on the side of the track! Music is very nice, and even though Toy Story Racer doesn't carry the same level of endearing tunes as the recent GBC Walt Disney World racing game, I liked the way music changes to reflect certain powerups as you hit them. The visuals and sound are excellent, right down to little touches like characters waving at spectators before the race begins.


For every bit as impressive as the graphics presentation might be for this kart-racing game, gameplay isn't quite at the same level. Lack of depth would be the first issue. Apart from racing individual tracks in a Quick Race Mode, Tournament is all you have. Tracks come in several stages that are split into multiple races, all with similar backgrounds but different curves. With only 3 different stages, it's easy to feel you're racing the same tracks over and over again. Starting the Tournament, you play as one of four characters. Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Bo Peep and Mr Potato Head all begin the race, but by the last track there can be only one. In an interesting twist to most racing games, Toy Story Racer lets you switch characters for each track. Gradually, characters are eliminated, but you can choose to buy them back to keep racing as or against them. Each of the four drives a different car, but don't expect it to make much difference on the racetrack. Toy Story Racer is all about powerups. Unlike WDW Racing for GBC, you don't get offensive powerups to throw or place on the track, but instead just find things that either slow you down or speed you up. Somehow, this falls a little short since you actually don't need the good powerups to win. The initial pleasure of seeing good graphics is quickly tempered by fairly dull, 'push the accelerator and wait until the race is over' gameplay. The real surprise is that nothing seems available beyond the first round of characters and tracks. You win with one character and then start all over again with another, but winning Tournament doesn't seem to open up any secret characters or tracks.


Although it's easy to see Toy Story Racer is aimed at a very young audience, most kids will probably have my reaction of 'Is that it?' Of course, there are the kids (most kids) who watch movies like Toy Story over and over and over again. Maybe that's the idea here, but unless you just successfully went to the potty instead of using a pamper, Toy Story Racer may seem a little repetitive. The few powerups on any given track end up feeling accidental, and don't do much for any kind of strategy, especially when none of the other cars are any faster or slower than yours.

Game Mechanics:

Controlling cars through the tracks takes some getting used to, mostly due to a latency in when you turn the wheel and how fast the car responds. To its credit, Toy Story Racer does have several degrees of turn and when you figure out how to anticipate the track's curves, control is fairly nice. The brake button won't even be used, and you're doing something wrong if you try. It's pedal-to-the-carpet for 3 straight laps on every track, and better hope you don't hit the back of another car and come to a complete stop. This feature, along with the draggy slowdown caused by hitting the edge of a track, is irritating but easy to avoid. On at least a few of the narrower tracks, mostly found in the Street Racing stage, avoiding other characters is really hard. At least one powerup, the 'Sticky Tire,' is helpful in making tight corners and getting past other drivers. Other powerups include a Snail that slows you to a crawl, an Anchor that actually stops you completely and the required 'go fast' powerup in the form of a Star. Each of these affects you for a limited time, and in the case of the good powerups, it's rarely enough time to make a difference if you're really behind in the race.

The Toy Story brand will be enough to make kids out there long for a copy of Toy Story Racer but if you're reading this as a buying decision for a kid, consider Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour for GBC. It too is a kart-racing game, and although it suffers from a silly name, it shows Toy Story Racer to be the almost average racing experience it is. For kids who just want to race as these characters, Toy Story Racer delivers. There's plenty of eye-candy here, but I wish more time had been spent on modes, characters, tracks and cars. As it is, only the Toy Story fanatics should consider this one a buy or rent.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

GameBoy Color/Pocket Tech Deck Skateboarding GameBoy Color/Pocket Wendy Every Witch Way

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated