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Toy Story Mania & Sports Champions 2 PS3 Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Sports Champions 2

Sports Champions 2

Image © Sony

It makes perfect sense that owners of a PlayStation 3 equipped with the once-so-promising technology of the PlayStation Move would be looking for games to buy this holiday season for the entire family. Looking and looking and looking...

The fact is that the Move has been yet-another poorly-developed piece of equipment by Sony, a company that failed to build up an arsenal of games to show off the potential of their PSP (and are doing an even poorer job given the capabilities of the PlayStation Vita), and feels like an increasingly-unnecessary add-on for PS3 owners. When it came out, the Move seemed like it could serve as the bridge from the PS3 to the PS4. Games like "Toy Story Mania" and "Sports Champions 2" prove that this bridge has collapsed. Go back to our feature, "Guide to PlayStation Move Games For the Entire Family" for better choices this season.

Game Details

TOY STORY MANIA
  • Publisher: Disney
  • Developer: Papaya Studios
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Party Games
  • Pros: Lovable Characters, Ease of Play For All Ages
  • Cons: Awkward Controls, Limited Creativity
SPORTS CHAMPIONS 2
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Sony
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Sports
  • Pros: Variety of Games, More Responsive Move Controls
  • Cons: Overly Familiar, Poor Graphics

Both games serve a similar purpose and deliver (or, more accurately don't deliver) creatively to the same degree and so it makes sense to cover them together. Both games want you to gather the family this holiday season and challenge your brother, sister, uncle, or grandma to a few rounds with a PlayStation Move changing hands. Sadly, both games feature common flaws of the line-up of "Move Required" games in that they often feel like they're doing the bare minimum in terms of gameplay to appeal to the widest audience. Too many of the "Toy Story Mania" mini-games are incredibly simple in terms of design and the graphics & gameplay are "Sports Champions 2" are disappointing. Each game has enough bells and whistles to keep little critters looking for a Move game from Santa happy this year but they can't really compete with the best of the best for Nintendo, either Wii or Wii U.

Gameplay

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania

Image © Disney Interactive

It's pretty simple stuff for both titles. "Toy Story Mania" features mini-games VERY loosely based on the hit Pixar franchise featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Rex, and more. Each games feels loosely based on a carnival game one would find on a boardwalk like shooting targets at a Woody-inspired Western landscape or throwing rings on aliens in one more based upon Buzz. The games have point systems to compare with your friends but there's nothing here in terms of storytelling other than the fact that you have to play one mini-game to unlock another. It is as narratively thin a game as you could buy in 2012 and it feels like a wasted opportunity to more creatively tie Move functionality in with a universe as fertile as the "Toy Story" one. I know most kids aren't asking these kind of questions and just enjoying the chance to throw a ring on a cute, three-eyed alien but their older brothers and guardians will get bored.

"Sports Champions 2" does a better job playing to the older kids but still suffers from a lack of creativity on the part of its developers. The gameplay is, of course, simple enough as you go through a series of sports events using your Move, including Archery, Boxing, Golf, Bowling, Skiing, and Tennis. While I got some thrills out of Tennis, Bowling and Archery, I was just as often frustrated by Boxing and Skiing, games in which the Move controls don't feel as well-refined as similar motion control sports games. The fact is that "Wii Sports" did most of this better years ago and so why would gamers want to pick up a title not only doing the same thing but worse so many years down the road? I'd be lying if I didn't say that I got enough joy out of Bowling and Tennis to recommend a few games between you and your family if you never played "Wii Sports" but that seems like pretty faint praise.

Graphics & Sound

Both games look mediocre at best with "Toy Story Mania" working better on a visual level simply because it comes from such a cartoon aesthetic in the first place. Some of "Sports Champions 2" looks okay, especially the backgrounds that improve on "Sports Champions," but some of it, especially when avatars go in motion, looks absolutely horrendous. Once again, it doesn't make sense that motion control games automatically mean a step down in graphics engines but that appears to be the case. Even ball movement -- the way a bowling ball travels down the lane -- doesn't look quite right and it detracts from the overall experience.

Overall

Sports Champions 2

Sports Champions 2

Image © Sony
The fact is that both of these games feel like titles that were created with a bare minimum of passion and creative drive. It's as if when developers hear that a Move game needs to be aimed at the entire family then all intellectual design decisions are jettisoned to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Can't we make Move games that work for both kids and adults? Do they have to be so simplified in terms of story and graphics? And can't they refine the controls more than they did when the Wii was first released? Or perhaps they've just given up on the Move and are preparing a different kind of motion control for the PS4.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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