To infinity and beyond!

First impressions 

We are not ashamed to admit that we are an avid Toy Story fan. We love all of the films and may actually own some of them in our iTunes account, ahem. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr and Mrs Potato Head… sigh… So when we saw that there was an app bringing back all our favourite characters, we couldn’t wait to purchase it. We were intrigued by the title: Toy Story: Smash It!, which was described by one reviewer as being “like Angry Birds but with Toy Story characters”. How could we possibly resist? 

 

How it works 

It uses the same kind of concept as Angry Birds, if you imagine that the birds have been replaced by Buzz Lightyear lobbing balls at structures with those cute little green aliens standing atop them. You have to hit the structures in such a way that they collapse and the wee aliens are knocked off their perches. Again, much like Angry Birds, the fewer shots you need to take to accomplish your goal, the higher your score. 

The game begins with the first level – ZURG IS BACK! – and it’s the first of 60 levels to come. As with many apps, it gives you some brief tutorial help to get you started. You use your finger to aim the ball in Buzz’s hand, and assuming your aim is true, he throws it at the target and, hey presto, it’s alien down! By about the third level, the game is already introducing some additional options. Now you can move Buzz from left to right so he’s got a better angle when he tries to unseat those pesky aliens. 

Inevitably things get more difficult as you move along. Although you begin with wooden building blocks, it seems that at some point fairly soon afterwards, someone’s bought the toys’ kid some metal pieces that stand their ground for longer. Now you have to try to find the weak points as they don’t topple so easily. 

The maximum number of stars you can achieve per level is three, and the more three-star efforts you put in, the faster new episodes will unlock. You also want to try and get the golden floating blocks when you throw, as they add up to extra points. In the beginning you’ll be helpfully given bullseye targets on the structures, so you know exactly where to hit, but as you become more competent those targets disappear and you have to use your best judgement. 

You’ll be faced with glass bricks that shatter when you hit them, and just like in Angry Birds, if you don’t get all the aliens down with the number of balls you’ve been given, you fail the level and have to try again. 

What is particularly attractive about Toy Story: Smash It! is the 3D effect it has. Angry Birds is 2D (and let’s face it, Rovio Entertainment Ltd. doesn’t seem to be suffering for that), and it’s a great game, but the 3D in this app adds another dimension (ha-ha) that will probably appeal to players. 

 

When we played 

We ARE ashamed to admit that when we started this game, we were completely blind to the bullseyes that were in plain sight. We aimed instead directly for the aliens which we missed completely, one by one. As we scratched our heads and lost the first level on the first try, we couldn’t possibly imagine what we were doing wrong. If we were failing the easiest level this quickly, how would we possibly ever master more difficult ones? Then we saw all the targets and had our “Aha!” moment. 

We were moving along at a pretty decent pace after that, although the first hurdle appeared at level nine when it took us a while to figure out how to knock everything down. The blocks were made of metal, the glass wasn’t cooperating, the windmills of metal were a real spanner in the works… It could have broken our spirit if we had let it, but we soldiered on like a good space ranger and finally beat the level. 

We enjoyed the challenge of this app, although it occurred to us that a nine year old would probably be more adept at playing it. There’s just something about those crazy kids that enables them to figure out these things much faster than we can, and besides; they have smaller fingers so their aim is truer. That’s our argument and we’re stickin’ to it. 

We were a bit disappointed that there was no audio dialogue from the characters, but we did appreciate that even when we failed the level, the messages were nothing but supportive. 

 

Final thoughts 

Angry Birds is the most popular app series in the world, so odds are good that anything following the same kind of path will do pretty well, particularly when you throw in beloved characters like those from Toy Story. Some players may be disappointed to not actually hear the characters’ voices, but the 3D element plus new elements being introduced on a regular basis will probably get them over the sorrow. 

Toy Story: Smash It! 

Cost: $0.99 

Seller: Walt Disney 

Devices: iOS and Android 

Rating: E for Everyone 

Three and a half stars 

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