Monday, September 1, 2014

Toy Story: Animated Storybook CD-ROM Game

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I was five years old in November 1995 when Toy Story was released in theaters. While I can't say I remember actually sitting in the theater watching it, I remember how much I absolutely loved it. I also very vividly remember what seemed to be forever waiting for it to be released on VHS.

Back then, movies didn't come out on home video just three months after their release in theaters like they do now. Nope, I had to wait until October 29th, 1996 to be able to watch my favorite movie again-almost a whole year since its release in theaters. That doesn't seem too long now of course, but to a five year old, it was a fifth of my lifetime!

During the wait, there really weren't a ton of options to get Toy Story into my life. There was collecting the toys (which you know I did), listening to the soundtrack on cassette (which I loved to play through my Toy Story Mr. Mike tape player) and reading some of the early books (like this Toy Story Pop-Up Book).

In April 1996, Disney Interactive finally released a couple of computer games, including this Disney's Animated Storybook: Toy Story (which ended up being being the best software title of the year, with over 500,000 copies sold). This was a game changer for me (yes, pun intended). While it would still be another good six months before I could own the movie, I could now play the film's most memorable scenes right at my computer.

 A vivid memory I still think about to this day is when I sneaked downstairs in the middle of the night (past my parents bedroom to our family computer) to play this game. I remember being just so excited for the movie to come out and thinking that playing the game would be as close as I could get to watching it. My mom (having heard me sneak downstairs) then came into the room where I was and, of course, wondered what I was doing up so late playing on the computer. She lovingly appreciated my excitement for Toy Story and let me play out a couple of the scenes before sending me back off to my room for bed.

It has been years now since I've played the game, but I still do have my original CD-ROM disc back at home. For this post, I watched the "game play" on YouTube (thanks to YouTuber TheBlueJay) and took a screen shot of all the scenes in the game. Man did it bring back memories...I remembered almost every detail like no time had passed at all. If you grew up playing the game as well, be prepared for some major nostalgia below...

 After the opening titles, you are taken to the game's home screen (featuring Hamm as the host). From there you have some options. You can have Hamm read you the story and be able to play the included games (by clicking the little Hamm cartoon with the book and the ball on the bottom left of the screen) or you can have Hamm read you the story straight through, without the ability to play around on each page (by clicking on the little Hamm cartoon holding only the book). The Hamm cartoon of him walking away with the book is the exit button. The Star Command logo on the top is how you navigate through the story with the center "rocket ship" being your "home screen" button.

The story starts with the toys during their "staff meeting" about Andy's birthday party. As with every page in this "animated storybook", you can click on almost anything to give life to the scene (such as characters moving, talking, etc). There are actually some pretty funny moments!

On the next "page", you'll find one of three games during the story. In this one below, the object is to put the toys back where they belong. There are three difficulty levels (difficult is relative here though of course, since this is a game meant for kids 3-8 years old): level one has shadows helping you know where to put the toys, level two removes the shadows and has Woody telling you "hot or cold" and level three has Woody describing the toy and where to put it.

 During this "Buzz Lightyear Arrives" page, you can spin Buzz's spaceship packaging around for a 360 degree view and even take him out to test out all of his action features.

Click on all the characters in this scene below to see what they have to say about Buzz's arrival (and even look though Lenny's binoculars).

This page is pretty neat. Click on the lamp, poster, drawing, watch, bed, hat and trash can to see Andy's western themed room be transformed into a Buzz Lightyear themed room.

On the next page, you play a part in Woody's plan by helping make sure all the toys are in the correct position to form a chain reaction-ultimately knocking Buzz out the window.

On this Dinoco gas station page, watch Buzz and Woody battle it out in hilarious ways by clicking on them and virtually anything else you see here in the scene.

Yes, the story wouldn't be complete without a visit to Pizza Planet! Click around on anything and everything you see here for some funny moments. My favorite line comes about from Buzz by clicking on the arcade game. He stands up on the console and says "great Scott! He's tearing that man's heart out! This is a strange, violent civilization you have here sheriff."

Ah, the iconic Pizza Planet crane game. The object of this one is, once again, simple: Pick whichever colored aliens (that show up on the Pizza Planet board) out of the rocket and place them in the corresponding backpack. There three levels of difficulty for this problem solving activity.

Explore Sid Phillips' creepy room with a flashlight on this page and be sure to click on any item you see to bring the scene to life.

During this page, you can click on the mutant toys (and other objects in this scene) to see each character's critical part in Woody's elaborate escape plan.

Click around on this page to see the toys get their revenge on Sid and give him "the shock of his life."

In this third and last game included in the storybook, the object is to navigate Buzz, Woody and RC to the back of the moving van before being caught by Scud, Sid's dog. As you move up in difficulty levels, more roadblocks (including literal "caution" roadblocks and red lights) make it harder to get to the truck.

Help the toys get Buzz, Woody and RC into the moving van by clicking on the different characters in this scene below.

This last Christmas scene is pretty cool as it shows the toys downstairs by the Christmas tree, rather than being in Andy's bedroom. It's almost as like this scene takes place right before the final scene we see in the film. Anyway, again, there are some pretty hilarious moments as you click around on different characters and objects including: Buzz ballet dancing to the Nutcracker theme song (reminiscent of his Spanish dancing in Toy Story 3) and a Lost in Space reference when you click on Robot (he says "ok, ok, ok. Who am I? Danger, danger Will Robinson."). My favorite line in the whole storybook though happens here when you click on the firemen Little Tikes. One goes off screen, grabs a little present, brings it to the other one and says "this, this is for you.". The other one says "thank you. Mittens. Just what I needed" (both in a deep monotone voices). I just get a kick out of it every time!

In the credits for the game, you'll see some familiar Pixar names (such as Jeff Pidgeon, Joe Ranft, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton) and may notice that Buzz and Woody are not voiced by the original actors, but rather by Pat Fraley and Jim Hanks (Tom's Hanks' brother).

Also, I find the note at the end of the "special thanks" section kind of funny... to "all the kids that tested earlier versions."

This is a fun, funny, classic and simple game that I couldn't recommend enough for young Toy Story fans. Although it may not work on most modern computers, you can pick it up on Amazon if you're interested HERE.

UPDATE: Who remembers this commercial for the Toy Story computer games that played in front of the original video? Hope this brings back memories...

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