I’ve often dreamt about what a good children’s game might be like, the moment that I stop dreaming and start playing it is now. Activision has broken the shackles that the likes of Tom & Jerry
and Stuart Little
have befuddled on the avoid-at-all costs children’s gaming genre. Instead of further persecuting the little ones and offering entertainment that’s painful for parents to stomach, the company has gone the extra mile and has created something that is both enjoyable for adults and children alike.
Disney and Activision have teamed up to place characters from The Lion King, Toy Story
into the skate shoes of Tony Hawk. The gameplay is largely the same to the four titles in the THPS series and will be immediately familiar to anyone who has come in contact with one of its four entries. It employs the free-roaming goal-oriented style of gameplay that was found in THPS4 as opposed to the timed-runs of the other THPS games. In fact most of the time the game feels like a palette-swap version of THPS4, but as fans of that game can attest, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The core game has you completing tasks so that you can unlock more levels. In order to do so you’ll have to approach characters around the landscape and talk to them. After talking to them they’ll give you a goal that’s highly reminiscent of a THPS game. They range from simple tasks such as collecting S-K-A-T-E to having to herd a wilder beast into some grass so that it can feast. We were able to complete the majority of the tasks without a sweat but a few of them really gave us a run for our money. We’re all THPS vets, we’d hate to imagine the frustration that a young child might have with some of the harder tasks. Some of the goals can and will become monotonous after awhile as they are just simply variants of each other, but the varied landscapes more than make up for this deficiency.
Of course you won’t find yourself skating in a college, zoo or a carnival. Instead, each of the riders can shred up environments that are very faithful to their movies. For instance if you choose Simba you’ll start off in Pride Rock and make your way around some very African-like plains. Buzz Lightyear starts out in Andy’s room and tricks off of jump ropes, toy chests, car tracks and so forth. There are 10 levels in all, three for each of the movies and the one level for your create-a-skater. If you create your own skater you’ll start off in Olliewood and perform goals for humans as opposed to hyenas and toy soldiers. A nice touch is that your create-a-skater has access to any of the levels that you’ve unlocked during the course of gameplay. All you’ll have to do is skate through Olliewood and find the proper portal for the level that you want to play.
And with such great level design, we’re sure that you’ll be more than willing to play. All of the levels are both faithful to the designs of the movies and the layout style of the THPS games. We commend the designers for their creativity as they use natural landscape to make ramps, rails and even half-pipes. What’s great is that none of the obstacles stick out and seem out of place. The majority of the objects feel like they could naturally be in place in these environments. For instance, in Andy’s room you’ll find a natural gap that’s formed by fallen blocks and dominoes. Nothing seems forced and out of place in the environments. To make things even better each of the levels has the potential to expand upon the completion of specific goals. Early on in Andy’s room you’ll be able to unlock a half-pipe in a toy chest by unlocking the shackles and freeing the toy soldiers that are trapped within.
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