On the surface, Toy Story: Smash It! looks like another attempt to ape Angry Birds’ successful fowl-flinging formula. Thanks to a fresh 3D perspective, inventive puzzles, and plenty of Pixar personality, however, Disney’s latest is much more than another me-too entry.
As Buzz Lightyear, players are tasked with tossing objects — balls, rockets, balloons — at those adorable squeaky-toy aliens from the films. Stages are successfully completed when all of the three-eyed extraterrestrials have been knocked from their perches. While the concept is as simple as, say, sling-shotting birds at pigs though, it quickly evolves into a clever puzzler on par with the App store’s most engaging head-scratchers.
The 3D perspective allows players to position Buzz in strategic spots, while different block types, such as shattering glass, sturdy metal, and explosive presents, yield a variety of creative scenarios. Additionally, the presence of moving Erector set-like pieces in some puzzles make hitting the little green guys even more challenging. On top of targeting the cute creatures, high score-seeking players will want to hit letters to spell ”TOY” for extra points. Nailing all items often requires dropping multiple objects with a single projectile, causing a satisfying domino effect.
Smash It! also earns points for fantastic pacing, as new blocks, projectile types, puzzle tricks, and Toy Story-flavored themes are introduced throughout the fifty-plus stages. Some later challenges require slightly more trial-and-error than I’d like, but the fun of figuring out how to crack even the toughest stages still outweighs any frustration. Supported by intuitive tactile controls and a forgiving learning curve, Smash It!’s easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay is also accessible for tykes as well as more mature gamers.
In addition to pleasing puzzle-lovers of all ages, Smash It! will stretch a smile across the face of any faithful Pixar fan. Stages take place in Andy’s room, where a variety of themes — from outer space to the old west — have been constructed from his playthings. Buzz is the star of this show, but cameos from fan-favorites like Jessie, Woody, and Rex bring plenty of personality to the proceedings. Familiar sound effects and music, as well as vibrant visuals, further add to the authentic Pixar experience. A-