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Toy Story – Sega Genesis

Toy Story – Sega Genesis

8389_frontPlatform: Sega Genesis

Developer: Traveler’s Tales

Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios

Release Date (NA): April 26, 1996

Genre: Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Those of us who are of a certain age will remember the day…

Perhaps it wasn’t the same day, but it doesn’t matter.

The day we first saw the trailer for Toy Story.

It was groundbreaking

It was fresh

And unfortunately, I don’t remember it very well.

toy_story_ver1_xlgSeeing Toy Story in the theaters must have had a huge impact on me as a small boy because it wasn’t long before I, like Andy himself, was a proud owner of Woody and Buzz Lightyear dolls. And of course, as is tradition, what collection is complete without the obligatory video game cash-in?

Toy Story. Mine walked the Genesis line.

As a kid I enjoyed this game. But what does adult me have to say?

Well, for one, adult me is way less-skilled than kid me. But I digress…

Toy Story is a great movie licensed game, but it’s so much more.

It’s a well designed, competent, and complete experience. It’s also a lot harder than you’d expect from a video game adaptation.

And now, let’s go to [“oh god is he really going to say it?”] Infinity and Beyond and take a nose dive into this review, just like an ignorant Buzz Lightyear attempting to fall – in style.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 4.18.38 PM

Don’t you worry…the game’s got that scene covered

Toy Story came out in late 1995, and the Genesis port the following year. By this time, Sega’s champion machine had Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.48.59 PMplenty of experience under its belt and a younger brother floundering on the market, so quality graphics were to be expected. The Genesis delivers, going all out to show us what it’s made of. I’m sure the SNES did as well (and maybe even more so), but playing Toy Story will feel as if you’re navigating through scenes straight out of the movie, with brilliant digitizations of those beloved characters.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.47.29 PM

Remember the scene where Woody fends off Sid’s toys using Buzz’s karate arm? Believe it or not, this part is represented in the game in a fun, creative way

Not only is the game visually similar to the movie, it follows the plot of Toy Story quite successfully. Most of the major beats are represented in fun and compelling levels/challenges. You are even graced with some nice cut scenes containing images from the film. A fair attempt to summarize the parts you don’t play.

I usually skip right through them, but I certainly appreciate the thought.

The developers also gave us a few levels outlining situations not found in the film. As a kid, these stages always annoyed me. I thought it was goofy to play out some made up scene with no relation whatsoever to the film.

As an adult I find them to be kind of cool. One such sequence is Nightmare Buzz, where you are pitted against the titular space ranger in a hazy paranoia-induced dream in which Mr. Lightyear has a real laser and can actually fly.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.38.53 PM

Now that I’m older, I recognize the merit of this added stage. It thrusts you deep into the psychology of a character trying to stay relevant, while at the same time keeping his cards close to his chest as others accuse him of jealousy over his new toy rival. The setting of this level is dark…it’s creepy; Buzz has a faint, ethereal glow to him as flaming orbs encircle his intimidating form. Not to mention the subdued, yet punctuated music keeping you on edge and living out this nightmare with Woody. It’s a trip, to say the least.

Toy Story gives us quite a roster of gameplay formats, from platforming, to an FPS-style stage reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D, to a stealth mission, and even some racing challenges! Each segment plays so differently, your interest is guaranteed to remain invested.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.04.43 PM

Avoid falling food/Buzz bumping into you and stealthily hide as kids pass you by. Solid Snake, eat your heart out!

Woody controls basically as you’d expect: he’s light, limber, and uses his own pull string as a weapon. You canScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.51.21 PM attack forward, upward, and below, which gets the job done. Really, there’s nothing particularly special to note here, so why even bring it up? Because it’s in my contract…

…not really.

This isn’t your casual ten-minutes-to-kill kind of game. It plays hardball. I’m talking Super Mario Brothers street rules: four lives, no passwords, check points on certain levels – once you’re dead, you’re dead. Continues have to be earned by collecting a certain number of stars, so do not – I repeat, do not, neglect the stars. You’ll need a continue if you even want to dream about beating this game.

Getting hit is easy, and both lives and hit points are tough to come by. Every now and then you’ll be treated to a fun test of reflexes in a shooting gallery-type mini game, which’ll earn you those coveted hit points.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.00.30 PM

And now I ask, what is every forlorn gamer’s greatest fantasy when it comes to playing a movie licensed game? To hear the signature music we all adored so much from the film.

Well guess what?

This time, our wishes are granted!

While the majority of the music is unique to the game (and for the most part quite catchy, with each tune playing to the mood of its respective level) we are treated to the Randy Newman classic, “You’ve got a Friend in me,” during the cutscenes! And another song from Toy Story, “Strange Things,” scores the title screen! And if that’s not enough for you, the game gives us some nice voice clips. It sounds to me like some are pulled from the movie and some are recordings of a guy they found living in one developer’s basement, but either way, it’s a nice bow on top of an already great video game presentation.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.20.55 AM

Look familiar? Hey, it’s not a big deal. Honestly, this game gives us so much, it would be petty to expect anything more

There are not a lot of faults I can find in this video game adaptation of Toy Story. One thing I feel I should bring up is how certain levels appear to be somewhat recycled. Obviously a couple scenarios will play out in Andy’s bedroom, but I’m talking structurally, even outside of his room. Once you make it to Sid’s room, you’ll find it feels oddly familiar in its platforming and set up. And the isometric level with RC car is later reskinned as well. But does any of this affect the quality of the game?  No, not at all.

So there you have it. Toy Story. It’s a great game. And if you don’t own the movie on DVD, VHS, Laserdisc, or have any other way of watching it, I suggest you go out and buy the game. Hell, buy it anyway. It’s cheap, and you’ll have a good time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go ahead and pop in my Toy Story Laserdisc.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.23.06 AM

Written by ZB


Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at I am happy to hear your feedback!


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One Comment

  1. Glad this came out tonight. I caught the Toy Story bug so badly after working on this review, I decided to watch it today. Such a good movie.


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