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Game 50 of 52: Toy Story 2 - Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue! - 06/20/24



As a kid growing up up in the early 2000s, I had a golden combo for entertainment. Whilst my siblings had a DVD player and a PS2, I had a VHS and a PS1, not that I minded too much because there was a lot of second-hand shops that would let me get games and movies for pretty damn cheap. There was a lot of great memories I had watching movies, and shows, and playing games I got for my birthday, or Christmas, or even the times when I would get PS2 games to play on my sister's console.

However, it was the Disney movies that would always combine both. The late 90s/early 2000s were prime time for great licensed games from Disney and Pixar. Monsters Inc Scare Island, Mickey's Wild Adventure, Hercules, and so on so forth. Then, the VHS would always have a trailer for these as well. As a kid, Toy Story was one of my all-time favourite movies, and my parents went out of their way to get me Toy Story 2 on VHS after watching the first movie on TV. That's when I saw this.

This short,30 second ad was constantly present in my VHS, always present right before the movie, and as soon as I saw it, I wanted it. I was a massive Toy Story fan, and finding out there was a game I could play on the PS1 that let me be Buzz Lightyear? It sold me. Actually, what made it even more desirable? My other favourite movie at the time was Monsters Inc, and my parents had gotten me this gem for my birthday before I had gotten this VHS:

Monsters Inc Scare Island was one of my favourites at the time. A insanely fun Ape Escape type game where you explored various worlds as Mike and Sulley, training to become scary monsters. I loved this game, so I was absolutely certain that Toy Story 2 would be just as good. From then on, I would keep my eyes peeled, hoping I could find it somewhere.

Yet, it just never happened. I could find a lot of Pixar and Disney games, but I was just never lucky enough to find Toy Story 2 in stores, and even my attempt to buy it on Amazon resulted in the game never arriving. It just never seemed like it was to be, all I had was just that trailer in on my VHS to give me a 20 second glimpse at what this game was all about.

Then, the PS3 happened. I got my PS3 for Christmas in 2010, and on top of getting the Toy Story 3 tie-in game, I got to explore the PSN store and see that it was available as a downloadable PS1 classic, along with a host of other Disney games. So finally, I would get my chance, and I played the game.

then i got to alleys and gulleys, and stopped.

No particular reason why - at the time - I just...stopped. I enjoyed the game, it certainly is a good platformer, but I don't know. Just something about that level rubbed me the wrong way.

Anyways, skip forwards to the PS Plus update a few years ago and Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue was added to the PS4/PS5 line-up. I did 100% it that time, and I came away with more detailed thoughts, but I'll save that to where we are now.

So with the Days of Play event, out of nowhere - Disney suddenly went back and added trophy support to Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue, and finally, I went for another 100% run for this event so I can add it's platinum trophy to my collection. So let's jump into the details.


The game begins exactly where you would imagine it would - inside Andy's bedroom, and it's the best introduction to the game you could have. Being able to explore the entirety of Andy's house as depicted in the movies is incredibly neat for any Toy Story fan, and perfectly introduces you to the action of the game. 

In terms of the story, it's...mostly what you would expect from a late 90s tie-in game - the game loosely attempts to try to follow along with the plot of the movie, mixing original levels and movie levels together, taking you to notable locales such as Andy's bedroom, Al's Toy Barn, Al's apartment, and more. Unfortunately, the usage of movie scenes to try act as cutscenes doesn't really work, leading to contradictions. Things like the movie scenes showing the alternative space ranger Buzz tying up the regular Buzz, only for regular Buzz to come back for Elevator Hop, or Jessie and Bullseye being antagonistic in movie scenes but friendly in levels, with Bullseye also speaking English, for some odd reason. The story really just doesn't have much to it, and it's only novelty is if you were a kid in the 90s who didn't have access to the VHS of the movie and wanted select scenes from the film to watch, because otherwise, they aren't worthy anything, especially in it's crusty compressed glory.

So really, I think it's time to jump into the gameplay and world design, and as a platformer from the late 90s, it's exactly what you would expect - a take on Super Mario 64, where you explore different 3D levels, find collectibles scattered all throughout them, unlock power-ups to find more collectibles, and keep going until you unlock the later levels and eventually save Woody, mainly by finding Pizza Planet tokens. 


Compared to other collectathons, the best way I can describe the structure of Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue is it's very standardised, for lack of a better term. There's always a token for exploring the world and finding it in the wild, there's always a character that offers a additional task, let it be a race, or some other minigame, there's always a token for collecting five collectibles in a given level, and a token for paying 50 coins to Hamm, and there's always a boss to find and fight during the level for a token. Certain levels add expansion as well by including Mr. Potato Head as a NPC, where finding one of his missing pieces will give you a new power-up that unlocks in all previous levels. 

Buzz's moveset is pretty simple, all things considered. You can use his glider to double jump, you can use his laser and charge it for attacks, and you can spin around, and do a charged spin as attacks. You can also find several power ups such as hover boots, rocket boosts, a disc launcher, a green powerful laser, and more to either handle traversal challenges, or increase your attack power. It's simple, but it works, and makes for a effective enough gameplay loop.

Honestly, while I could go in detail about the level design and gameplay and all that, I honestly think it's best for me to just get right to the major issue of the game I have. Because I can sit here and talk all day about what it does right. It's a solid game, a solid licensed game. A easy 7/10 game on it's own merits. It's charming, does a great job of capturing the Toy Story world, and is fun.

But the problem with the game - the major one I have - is it's just a game with two halves. One half of the game is fun, creative, imaginative worlds that does a fantastic job of making you feel like a tiny toy inside big buildings. The other half? It feels so damn unimaginative, and just really damn unfun, and that's the game's biggest problem - towards the end, it starts hitting you with several levels that just feel like a total slog to run through, and it all starts with that level I mentioned way earlier - Alleys and Gulleys


What I find is that it's the interior levels where it gets the main premise that the game shines it's best. Andy's room, Al's Toy Barn, Al's penthouse, these are all levels where you're in a big enclosed area, exploring a world as a toy, and going to different segmented rooms to tackle different challenges that give just the perfect mixture of linearity and openness that really justifies and makes the premise of a Toy Story game feel incredibly good and well-realised. 


But it's the exterior levels, with exception to possibly Andy's Back Yard that makes the game fall apart - where these levels feel way too big, the platforming too finicky, and just a plain pain to get through. Alleys and Gullies is the worst level in the game, bar none - but levels like Elevator Hop, and the final airport stages are just incredibly frustrating to navigate. 

Not helping matters is the backtracking. The first few levels of the game can be easily beaten fully, with only minor tricks (Sorry RC), but ironically - around again - Alleys and Gullies, you start getting hard locked out of multiple tokens, to the point you can only really feasibly get one or two tokens here without the rest of the power ups. This turns the game from a completionist game to just forcing yourself through levels ASAP until you can get all power ups, then go back and get all of the tokens again, which is really bad because you don't get all power ups til the penultimate level of the game. 

This is really the biggest problem of the game. High highs, but extremely low lows. There's some levels in this game that's just a downright misery to play through, and it's what hurts the game a lot. 

Luckily, there's one aspect I can talk pretty positively about the game, and that's the visuals and music. The visuals is pretty good for capturing the style and art of the Toy Story world, some minor silly looking faces aside. On top of that, all worlds have their own unique visual identities and again - if nothing else, it's so, so cool how perfectly they take mundane areas and turn them into these big sprawling areas, all due to having the perspective of a small toy. It's again why the interior levels is the best in my eyes, because those are the levels that more faithfully recreate that experience.

The music though? Oh god, it's insanely good. There's no way you haven't heard at least one of these if you watch YouTubers. Even Alleys and Gullies has what is probably my favourite track in the entire game:

So really, all that is said and done, I can't really recommend going for 100% on this game. Is it fairly easy? Sure, but is it really worth the headaches of dealing with some really lousy levels, some annoying as hell backtracking, and so on? Not really, especially since there's really no reward for it, unless you're going for a platinum trophy on PS5. 

Unfortunately, compared to all the hype I had built in my mind for it, the game was a bit of a disappointment, and I can't really pretend otherwise. But that said - that doesn't mean the game is bad. There's a lot of merits in the game, positive merits, and overall - I do still think it's a really good licensed platformer game, one that any Toy Story fan should definitely experience at least once in their lives, especially with how readily accessible it is these days. I just think it tends to be overhyped a lot these days unfortunately.

Still, it's got a lot of fun aspects to it, and the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and you can get it dirt cheap on PS3-PS5 these days, so it's worth a shot, if you're a Disney fan, a Toy Story fan, or a general platformer fan. Just expect it to not be perfect, and there to be some levels that are just really annoying.

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I always love Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear To The Rescue video game. The gameplay looks very cool, the music looks very cool too. My tip for you is actually look over the longplay of Toy Story 2 on YouTube so you can actually follow along so you don't have to stopped at Alleys and Gullies level. I do heard there's also the Sega Dreamcast version of the game as well. I also do heard that the composers for the game, Marten Joustra and Andy Blythe from Swallow Studios, also composed Toy Story 1 video game, A Bug's Life video game, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex, and Finding Nemo video game.

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