Toy Story 4 is out TODAY here in Britain if I finish this on time and despite my initial worries about the quality of the trailers, it seems like the critical response to the film has been super positive. As a result, I am not only excited to see whether or not Toy Story 4 can truly take it’s place alongside one of my absolute favourite trilogies ever made but it made me feel nostalgic for the days when I was a child with very few worries instead of an adult with too many worries. Luckily, there is a video game that both takes me back to those halcyon days while also being based on Toy Story thus allowing me to coincide this article with the release of a massive film. This game is Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue on the Playstation.

Toy Story 2 PS1 Title Screen

I got this game on the same day as the last game I wrote about, Final Fantasy VIII. It was just after Christmas and they were both part of a promotion where you could buy two Platinum games for £30. Let me tell you that £30 is up there with the best £30s I have ever spent. Two games that gave me years of entertainment that I still play to this day. I loved the movie as a kid and I had played the first level of the game dozens of times when it came on a demo disc. Toy Story 2, both movie and game, would become big parts of my childhood but I have to put that aside and take a proper look to see whether or not this game still holds up.

Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue is an action-platformer game where you play as Buzz Lightyear through levels based on those featured in the movie (and some extras thrown in there for good measure). You go from Andy’s House to the final stage in the airport all to rescue Buzz’s best friend, Woody. The game does not bog itself down with any story though and it does not feel the need to reiterate the movie to you outside of little clips you get as a reward for beating a level. This is not a negative, most people who play this game have seen the movie and it means there is little separating us from the actual game.

There are fifteen levels, ten of which are big levels to explore to earn Pizza Planet tokens and after every two of these you fight a boss. The main levels are creatively designed to feel huge despite being fairly mundane locations to a full-sized human. Andy’s House is literally just a house but to Buzz it feels massive and the game does a good job at conveying this scale to the player. There are evil toys all over the place trying to stop you from progress but luckily you are well equipped for these battles with Buzz’s trusty laser. Or, if you’re feeling a little crazier you can do the SUPER-WING-TORNADO-OF-DEATH move which will tear enemies caught in its path to shreds but does leave poor Buzz a little dizzy afterwards.

Toy Story 2 PS1 First Person Buzz Lightyear
There’s even a nifty first person aiming mode

Each level has five tokens to claim with five tasks to complete in order to earn them similar to a Super Mario 64 but more rigid in design. You get a token for collecting 50 coins in every level and giving them to Hamm, another one for winning a race either against another toy or against time to collect a certain number of item, one for collecting 5 lost toys and bringing them back to their owner, one for beating the mini-boss in every level and finally one that is placed within the level, usually requiring solving a puzzle to grab that token. The ways to earn tokens never really change but considering the game is aimed at a younger audience I feel like this is acceptable and it manages to do a lot within these rules that it rarely feels the tasks repeat themselves.

In certain levels you can even find a piece of Mr. Potato Head which if you return it to him he will unlock a new power-up such as a temporary shield, a jet boost or homing discs. Some tokens require these power-ups to earn which means the occasional level has to be returned to when you have unlocked the power-up. Or, in one case, you can be a complete baller and beat RC in the second level by just refusing to let him pass causing him to have a little slide every time he hits you. Lewis Hamilton, eat your heart out, Buzz Lightyear is the greatest racer of all time.

Buzz Lightyear RC Racer Toy Story 2 PS1
Can’t beat me in a race if you can’t get past…

The mini-bosses in each level can range from really easy to just easy, very few of them will present a challenge. Except the jerk in Andy’s Neighbourhood who if he hits you has a good chance to send you falling ALL THE WAY DOWN THE TREE. I spent TWO minutes climbing up that tree. TWO WHOLE MINUTES. I hate you ZURG-KITE. I hate you so much. Also the drill boss is terrifying.

Toy Story 2 PS1 Jackhammer boss
Man, I wish I got a pizza every time I defeat the Jackhammer Boss

While not every level is a hit – the Alley level feels like filler, the elevator shaft looks dull and can be annoying to traverse and the airport tarmac level is way bigger than it needs to be – most of the others are great. Exploring Andy’s House as Buzz is a delight even nineteen years on and the level in Al’s Toy Barn is great. My favourite level as a kid and even now will always be Al’s Penthouse because it has some really cool level design but also the song for that level is incredible – a western track that makes exploring a greedy toy collector’s apartment feel like an adventure. That is what Toy Story has always done well, making the little things seem like big adventures.

Musically this game has some of my favourite gaming tracks of all time with each song perfectly mixing in with the level to make you feel like you are on an important mission. The sound design is great too, Buzz makes all the right noises whether he is shooting his laser or expanding his wings to get that extra boost in his jump. The voices can get a little annoying – most have one line that they will repeat ad nauseam if you DARE get too close to them. “I NEED SOME COINS HERE, BUZZ” YOU ALWAYS NEED SOME COINS HERE, HAMM LEAVE ME ALONE.

The game is fairly short, a decent player can probably beat it 100% in six or so hours but it is a good game for young children or people new to gaming to get to grips with. It has not aged particularly well – the camera can be a bit tricky to navigate and this can cause some issues in combat – but it is an easy game that has some challenge to it should you try to collect every token. Each level is a little sandbox for people to explore to their hearts content to try and find everything they need. It is not as deep as a Mario 64, it doesn’t have as much to collect as a Banjo and it certainly isn’t as stupidly ambitious as a Donkey Kong 64. It knows its audience will likely be younger children who love the movie and they did a really good job at recreating the feel of what it would be like to be Buzz Lightyear going to rescue Woody.

Toy Story 2 Level Select
The level select menu is awesome too

The game is available on the PS3’s collection of PSOne classics and it sold really well so picking up a physical copy should not cost a lot of money on eBay. There are definitely better games in the genre but Toy Story 2 is a neat game and manages to be one of the better movie adaptations of the era. The game is fondly remembered and for good reason. When I am bored and I don’t really feel in the mood to play anything, I tend to play this game. I have beaten this game more than any other and I still play through it yearly. It is not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a nice game that I can come back to again and again, much like the movie it is based on.

Final Score: XTA Logo/ScoreXTA Logo/ScoreXTA Logo/ScoreXTA Logo/Score (that’s 4 stars)

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