Fans of Buzz Lightyear and friends may be intrigued by this 3D physics game for Windows 8 – but is throwing balls and bombs at aliens as entertaining as it sounds, or is it all a bit Stinky Pete?
Will You Help Buzz Smash The Aliens?
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like Toy Story, and this great arcade physics puzzle game for Windows 8 – best played on tablets – is as fond a tribute to the film series as you can imagine.
The idea is simple: Woody and friends are attempting to defeat the aliens under the control of the evil Zurg (with Stinky Pete, a foe later in the game), who have inexplicably (although quite understandably for the game to work) built a series of forts and towers out of building blocks and other materials. It falls to the legendary Buzz Lightyear to dispatch the invaders, throwing a variety of weapons to knock the aliens over and foil their plans.
Toy Story: Smash It! owes a lot to the hugely addictive Angry Birds in terms of gameplay, but turns the idea around, bringing 3D viewpoint and graphics that seem good enough to appear on the big screen. Coupled with the physics-based act of throwing balls, bombs, balloons and other weapons to dislodge the pesky aliens, the game is a lot of fun.
Unlock Levels, Gain Weapons
In order to progress through the game you need to get a perfect score on each level. Gameplay is straightforward – you use the arrow buttons on the screen to position Buzz, then launch the weapon by positioning the crosshairs and releasing. Depending on the weapon, you may also need to tap the screen to activate it – for instance, the balloon can be remotely inflated, causing all manner of mayhem.
Control is best either using fingers or mouse; you can also use the keyboard arrow keys or A and D, to move Buzz, but otherwise keyboard play is non-existent. The optimum way of playing is definitely on touch screen devices.
When aiming weapons, you should always intend to take out the bricks rather than the aliens. For one, the critters have shields to deflect direct attacks. More importantly, attacking the bricks gives you a better chance of success, at completing the stage with the three stars required to unlock later levels.
Targeting the aliens’ insanely silly forts (which might include towers and pendulums you can use against them) can be tricky at first, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the shadows of your projectiles to get an idea of where to launch your attacks.
Aiming for the floating bonus Golden Blocks is a good way of adding points, but they also help you to correctly work out how to defeat the aliens with the least throws.
Keeping the interest once you’ve completed later levels (which you can pay to unlock if playing is proving too tough) is a chart of entertaining achievements, such as Glass Breaker (break 50 glass blocks) and Collector (collect 200 Golden Blocks with only the ball). No Xbox Live achievements though, sadly.
Not An Interactive Movie But Successfully Evokes The Spirit
From the familiar theme tune to the in-game sound effects and graphics, Toy Story: Smash It! is a pleasure to experience. It genuinely feels like a legitimate extension of one of the films, something that can be attributed to both the entertaining script that sets up each level (displayed as text-and-graphic cut scenes).
Let’s look at it another way: a Toy Story game surely cannot work without faithfully reproducing the main characters. Despite the limited movement of Buzz Lightyear and the aliens, and their ubiquity in comparison to other popular characters, they all look perfect. Animation-wise Toy Story: Smash It! isn’t great, but coupled with graphics, sound effects and the sound track, it genuinely feels like you’re entering the Toy Story world, and this is not an easy thing to achieve. Add a convincing Buzz Lightyear voice artist, and this game is a winner. We previously featured it among our top 10 Windows 8 Metro Games You Don’t Want To Miss, and it certainly deserves its place there.
You’ve Got A Friend In Me
For a casual game this may seem expensive, but with an immense 90 challenging levels, friendly, familiar characters and an overall sense of fun, this is a Windows 8 game that you really shouldn’t miss. Easy to drop in and out of Toy Store: Smash It! is easy to start and challenging to finish.
With tidy graphics, amusing plot developments and a steadily increasing challenge, the only thing really letting the game down is the inability to change characters – you’re stuck with Buzz throughout. Not a disaster, but perhaps the developers might consider allowing us to unlock Woody and some of the others at some point.
Toy Story: Smash It! can be found in MakeUseOf’s list of the best Windows 8 Modern apps.