Toy Story for the SNES: A Retrospective

You got a friend in me.

After watching Toy Story 4, there was nothing I wanted more than an awesome tie-in video game. Previous movies in the franchise all had big-budget tie-ins, but the only ti- in the latest entry had is a microtransaction-riddled match 3 mobile game. So, with nothing to fill that void, I decided to go back, all the way back to 1995, and replay Toy Story for the Super Nintendo

My first encounter with this game was actually the Game Boy port. I used to sit and play this game all day, I absolutely loved it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually played the proper version.

Boy, I had no idea what I was missing.

The SNES version was leaps and bounds better than its Game Boy counterpart (of course it was). After just a few minutes, it cemented its place as one of my favourite childhood games.

As a movie-based game aimed at a younger audience, Toy Story is extremely ambitious. For starters, it follows the movie pretty faithfully. It takes some obvious liberties but ultimately succeeds in expanding the movie universe in a fun and exciting way.

Masking itself as a simple 2D platformer, Toy Story wastes no time revealing itself to be so much more. There are platforming sections, there are 2D driving stages, 3D driving stages, first-person missions, and a whole slew of creative boss battles. You are never stuck doing the same thing for too long. Even the standard platforming sections are layered with interesting objectives keeping even the most basic looking levels interesting. Playing through the film’s most iconic set pieces should have any fan smiling from ear to ear. That is if they are not chucking their controller against the wall.

Toy Story is a tough game and leaves very little room for error. It can get a little frustrating, especially in the more creative levels. You will get a brief objective screen before a stage begins but there is no way of knowing exactly what to do on the first run. You are bound to lose a couple of lives, and this game is very stingy with its extra lives and continues.  Be prepared to restart several times.

The hit detection is also a little wonky. I’ve played through this game a bunch through the years and still don’t know exactly where the hitboxes are. You know how it goes: lose all your extra lives, use up your continues and it is back to level one. I honestly don’t even know how to gain more, it would kind of just happen. There is a password system and the game can be beaten in about an hour so having to start over is not the most terrible thing.

It’s pretty darn cool navigating all the iconic environments from the movie. There is such an impressive amount of detail in almost every aspect. Andy’s Bedroom, Pizza Planet, and Sid’s room, it’s all here and it all looks glorious. The game is gorgeous no two ways about it. Each level represents its movie counterpart excellently. All of your favourite toys make an appearance and their character models are a joy to look at. Even parts of the iconic soundtrack make an appearance in glorious 16-bit chiptune. Unfortunately, Randy Newman’s “You Got a Friend in Me” is a no show, but luckily “Strange Things” made the cut. There is also a whole slew of original music that fits right in with the universe.

When it comes to classic games, you hear people talk about The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario World, and Super Metroid but you never hear anyone talk about Toy Story. I’m not delusional, I know the significance of Nintendo’s top-shelf but, believe it or not, those were never “my games” growing up. When I think of the SNES, the big hitters never come to mind, it’s those other less-remembered games that fill me with nostalgia.

Toy Story is one of those games. It’s the game I would spend hours trying to get through just one more level. It’s the game I would leave in my Game Boy and keep it on overnight as to not lose progress (never worked).

Toy Story is a great game and to pass it off as just another licensed kid’s game is a mistake.