Best Toy Story Video Games of all time, Ranked
Woody and Buzz’s video game adventures, ranked from worst to best.
Toy Story is by far one of the most iconic film franchises in animation. All four films have received major critical acclaim and commercial success, and the original film went on to completely change how we view animated films by being the first fully CGI animated film. The franchise even received a continuation in the form of the spinoff film Lightyear earlier this year.
This major success of a franchise marketed toward a younger audience would undoubtedly lead to video game tie-ins. And sure enough, the Toy Story franchise received several video game adaptations before film-based video game tie-ins went out of style in the 2010s.
But which games fly to infinity and beyond, and which ones are as uncomfortable as Woody losing his arm? Here are all the Toy Story video games, ranked from worst to best.
6. Toy Story Mania!
Released in 2009 for the Wii (and later in 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), Toy Story Mania! is based around the Toy Story Midway Mania! amusement park attractions found at Disney parks. There’s not much to the gameplay, as it largely centers around shooting targets, with several systems utilizing motion-controlled peripherals like the Wii Remote and PlayStation Move.
As it is, it’s a largely formulaic shooter that, had it not been for Woody and Buzz’s appearance, probably wouldn’t have had any connection to the Toy Story lineage. Kids may have fun with the shooting (and optional 3D visuals), but it won’t take long for them to want to play something else.
5. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
Based on the Saturday morning spin-off cartoon, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is essentially a third-person action game based around the story of the show. Buzz Lightyear (the character, not the toy) travels across the galaxy to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg, sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance.
As far as licensed games go, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command does offer some fun gameplay and weapons that a young audience could get a kick out of. It’s held back, however, by repetition and a lack of gameplay variety, making it one of the less essential Toy Story games.
4. Toy Story Racer
Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was not uncommon for an animated film to have racing game adaptations, even if their films featured hardly anything involving “racing.” Look how many racing games Shrek had, for example. Along with Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Toy Story Racer was developed by Traveller’s Tales before the team became a permanent Lego game developer.
While it’s not the finest racing game ever produced, Toy Story Racer has enough creativity in its level design and challenge to please gamers young and old. It may not be Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing, but it makes the most of the license to create a cute little game.
3. Toy Story
You might not know it today, but the original Toy Story game (also developed by Traveller’s Tales) was a pretty important game for its time. Beyond offering a level of fun and varied gameplay rarely seen in licensed games at the time, it was one of the first games to utilize pre-rendered 3D visuals for characters.
Looking past its technological achievements, some elements might be a bit harder to get into today, such as the controls and difficulty level. That said, Toy Story accomplished a lot for its time, and remains a fun side-scrolling platformer to this day.
2. Toy Story 3: The Video Game
Toy Story 3: The Video Game was the last proper Toy Story game to release, and they sure saved a good one for the end. Beyond being incredibly faithful to the film, it was a great platformer with smooth controls and worlds that lived up to their designs in the films.
One of the most notable additions to the game was the Toy Box mode, an open-world area with plenty of missions and opportunities for customization. The developers didn’t have to go to this length to include it, but they did, and it became the most memorable part of the game. So much so that it would go on to inspire the Toy Box mode that developer Avalanche Software would integrate into the Disney Infinity series.
In the PlayStation 3 version, you could even play as Emperor Zurg in the Toy Box, an extremely enticing addition to an already strong game. Even for a tie-in to a movie, you can feel the love and care that went into giving Toy Story fans something truly special that showcased an incredible appreciation for the films.
1. Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue
Even with Toy Story 3’s excellence, no Toy Story game has topped what may be one of the most iconic licensed games ever: Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue. Another Traveller’s Tales title, Toy Story 2 utilized the collect-a-thon gameplay of titles like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, and translated it perfectly into the Toy Story world.
The game’s worlds perfectly capture the essence of what they offered in the film, the music is some of the finest stuff on the original PlayStation, and Buzz still feels incredible to control. Traveller’s Tales did an excellent job with this game of making the player feel like a small toy in a big world.
A great amount of love and care went into crafting this game, and to this day, it remains an incredibly charming platformer. It was recently re-issued on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and it’s well worth trying if you haven’t already. Many old games can age poorly and feel worse as time goes on, but not Toy Story 2; much like the original film, it’s just as good today as it was 23 years ago.
For all the good and bad moments, the Toy Story video games have brought some great experiences that live up to the wonderful nature of the films. What are your favorite Toy Story games? Let us know in the comments!
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