Disney’s Toy Story, the movie, is an awesome work of animation. Ifyou can’t wait until the video is released, you might want to buy theAnimated StoryBook, Toy Story, available on CD-ROM (Win/Mac). Are the 3-Dgraphics enough to keep your child (ages 3 through 9) interested in thesoftware? Read about our experiences with the software before you makethat all-important software decision.
It’s up to you to help Woody, the cowboy, and Buzz, the robot, escape frombad-boy Sid Phillips. Woody and Buzz have a love-hate relationship going –either they are best buddies or fighting like cats and dogs (sounds like mytwo kids!). The fight between the two characters is almost identical to ascene from the movie, “The Indian in the Cupboard”.The two characters arecompeting for attention (good or bad). Each one wants to be Andy’s besttoy. In fact, Woody wants to be the one toy Andy chooses to take to PizzaPlanet. So, he’s devised a complex chain reaction that will push Buzzbehind the desk. Life would be simple without Buzz in the picture. But,wouldn’t you know? The toys aren’t in the right position for the chainreaction to work, and it’s up to YOU to figure it out.
We found that by freezing each moving toy in the correct position, you canthen complete the chain reaction easier. This was a difficult activity fora four-year-old, and once Timmy did get the correct position, he felt alittle sad about helping Buzz do a “bad thing” to Woody.
The object of the game is to help Woody and Buzz escape from bad-boy SidPhillips. They will catch the moving van and become best pals in theprocess.
My favorite activity in Toy Story is The Crane Game. Remember thosevending machines with little crane mechanisms where you steer the claws tograb prizes? This virtual rendition is a blast! The space-age versioninvolves choosing the correct color and number of Martians and putting theminto the right backpack. You’ll detect the patterns you need to match fromthe Pizza Planet board. Click on the correct colored Martian in the rocketlauncher and watch the claw scoop up the Martian and place him in the prizechute. When you finally get the correct number of Martians, hold down yourmouse button and click and move them into the backpacks. There are threedifficulty levels on this game. In Level 1, the Martians automaticallymove into the correct backpacks, while in Levels 2 and 3, you have to matchbackpacks and there’s more Martians, colors and backpacks to play with.Timmy got a kick out of being called an Interplanetary Warp Rider whileplaying the game.
The classic Put-Away Game involved helping Woody put all the toys back intheir places before Andy and his birthday party guests show up. There areactually three separate games: the Shadow Shape Matching where you’ll see agroup of toys and their shadows and your job is to match the toy with itsshadow while the Warmer/Colder game works like the old “Warmer/Colder” gameas Woody dishes out the clues. Kids use their mouse to click and move toysto various places in the room. As they get closer, Woody will say”warmer.” If they’re going the wrong way, Woody will tell them they’regetting “colder”. You get the general idea! Then, there’s the FollowingDirections game. This game requires some concentration since kids mustfollow Woody’s verbal instructions, including the color and size of the toyto pick up and a description of its proper location. If kids get theanswer wrong, the toy will return to the pile of toys. Since Woody is waycool, he will always hand out more clues.
It’s not Mission Impossible, but Woody’s escape plan to save Buzz fromSid’s yucky hands is to get Buzz back home before the move. There arethree more activities involved in the Escape Plan. Each one is a step inthe plan to rescue Buzz and all the action takes place in “thought bubbles”of the characters. The first activity, The Doorbell, calls for Ducky andLegs to ring the doorbell; the second is The Toy Stack, which means its upto you and Babyface, Hand-in-box and Bugged to open the door to dastardlySid’s room. Stack the toys in the right order and the door will open.Then, The Stairs is the toughest challenge since Woody and Babyface needyour assistance to mosey down the stairs. Don’t take more than one step ata time, or else they’ll fall down the stairs. Finally, there’s an excitingMaze Game which has kids helping Woody, Buzz and RC reach their pals in themoving van to escape from Scud, the dog. The maze scene is a 3-D renderingof the city. Move your cursor through the maze and be sure to avoid redlights, traffic barriers and that nasty canine, Scud. There are threedifficulty levels in this activity, each level adds more stop lights andbarriers.
I really enjoy Disney’s Animated StoryBook series. In fact, we own most ofthe titles and the software remains extremely popular at our house .Therefore, I had high expectations for Disney’s Animated StoryBook, ToyStory. After only one hour and fifteen minutes of interactive game playing,it was over. We found every clickable “hot spot”, listened to the storyand played each game and activity. The magic and excitement of theoriginal movie wasn’t matched in this software.
If you’re a loyal fan to the movie Toy Story, you should enjoy thissoftware. All of the wacky animated characters are only one mouse clickaway. Woody and Buzz, after all, are hip-deep in adventure. This time, youcan be part of 15 story screens of interactive adventure.Timmy’s favoritepart was clicking on every button of Buzz’s gear. The clickable toys whichspring to life were fantastic. I enjoyed converting Andy’s room byclicking on the bedspread and other features in the room. Change thelittle boy’s room filled with cowboy stuff changes to a high-tech, outerspace theme in minutes, just by clicking the mouse.
Are looking for solid, educational read-along software for your preschoolor elementary-aged kids? I would not recommend this title for educationalpurposes alone, although it is entertaining and fun.
The printed text, highlighted when read aloud, only consists of about onesentence per page. The words seem to fly as they are read and would beharder for a beginning reader to follow along. There is an option to clickon the small picture of Hamm to the left of the words to hear the storypage read again. Since the real fun in this software involves clickingtoys to make them come to life and the activities, chances are that youngkids will skip through the story to get to the action. Unlike classicstories, the sentences are more comical than educational. Do younglearners understand sentences like this one: “Woody was reminding us we allneeded a moving buddy, when he snuck in a piece of news that made me losemy change”. Again, more entertaining than educational, in my opinion.
There’s also some gags which aren’t necessarily good influences for kidsincluding “Whack-An-Alien”, several fight scenes between the characters,and shocking Sid with a device. Buzz says at one point, “A strange, violentcivilization you have here..” Unfortunately, so true.The software is extremely easy to navigate. From the choice Screen, youcan c
hoose how you will play and move in the story. Hamm, the pig,introduces the story and gives you the skinny on two different modes ofplay: Read and Play and Read Only. Buzz’s Badge appears at the top ofevery scene. Click the Right Wing to move to the next scene, click theleft wing to move to the previous scene or click the Rocket to return tothe Choice Screen.
However, Toy Story didn’t pass my test, “Tina’s Replayability Test”. It’sactually a simple test. How long do the kids play the software the firsttime? And, do they want to come back for more? All of the testers, ages 4through 16, seemed to want to choose something else to play the next time.When specifically asked why, they shrugged their shoulders. Not enough fungames, said the 4-year-old. There’s nothing on it, replied the16-year-old. Eleven-year-old Stefanie loved the 3-D animation, butacknowledged as software, there wasn’t much to interest her in playing itagain. Oddly enough, all of the kids consider themselves Toy Story fans.
I won’t list all the wacky effects, but one of the better effects is ablack screen where kids can aim a flashlight to discover which animationsare hiding. Realistic light beams can be aimed, all with a click of themouse.
Disney’s wacky 3-D world where toys come to life is indeed a work of art.I’m not sure that I agree as a reading adventure it “will take you toinfinity and beyond”, however!
Disney’s Animated StoryBook, Toy Story
IBM PC or compatible (486-50MHz or faster processor)
Windows 95, 3.1 or later
8 MB RAM recommended
10 MB hard-disk space
256-color display only
Double speed CD-ROM drive
8-bit sound card
Apple Macintosh 68040 or faster processor
System 7.1 or later
8 MB RAM (16 MB RAM Power Mac)
13″ or larger monitor, 256 colors at 640 x 480 resolution or higher
Double-speed CD-ROM drive
Virtual Memory deactivated