Kids games are generally about as well made as the cheap action figures I used to get from the local market - the ones that looked like the real deal, but more often than not didn't have movable joints and fell apart within a week. Toy Story 3 bucks the trend. It's the still in original packaging Generation One Optimus Prime of the kids video game world. With impressive production values, varied gameplay and plenty of content, Disney Interactive's family friendly movie tie-in is easy to recommend.
Rather than taking the obvious route of building levels that re-tell the story of the movie, here you're given a series of stages built around general themes seen in the latest Pixar film and throughout Toy Story's history. Things kick off with Woody running along a moving train, rescuing orphans as he goes and fending off a saucer-flying Ham the pig. It's explosive, action-packed fun, and just one of the variety of levels and gameplay styles on offer.
Each character has a unique set of moves. Woody you can run, jump, ram, and shoot a sling shot, while Buzz can fly and shoot his laser. Some Buzz stages feature on-rails flying, in which you need to shoot obstacles and navigate a narrow course, whereas others combine platforming with third-person shooting in a similar style to the Ratchet & Clank series. There are also elements of the different characters working together to solve puzzles, so Buzz might need to lob one of the gang up to a high platform in order to progress.
For the most part Toy Story 3 walks the path of fun, forgiving gameplay without a problem, but some context sensitive actions make things unnecessarily awkward at times. Woody can lasso onto objects if the game allows, while Jessie can perform a pirouette to land on certain parts of the environment. There's no continuity to these actions at all, which could well make for some confusing moments when the game is in the hands of the younger gamers it's clearly targeting.
These are really only minor blips though, with help for novice players always available. You can get advice from handily placed question marks dotted around the stages, which when triggered display a hologram depicting what your character needs to do next. Death isn't an issue either, with unlimited lives at your disposal and generously placed checkpoints. All in all, Toy Story 3 doesn't patronise its audience, which is something very few kids games manage.