Eight months after the release of the PlayStation and N64 versions, Toy Story 2 for the Dreamcast has finally hit the streets. That's the good news. The bad news, however, is that there was little effort on Activision's part to make the game little more than a direct port with trumped-up visuals.
That said, Toy Story 2 is quite a visually appealing game. The film's amusing characters, settings, and themes translate quite naturally into the video game world, making Activision's rather unambitious interpretation of it even more of a shame. The levels are a lot of fun to traverse, and the sheer wonder of being a toy in a giant, human world would work much better if it weren't so overly done at this point. The level designs, at any rate, are pretty thoughtful and entertaining, and they fully realize the film's vision in the context of a game. Expect your usual platform elements to be in play in fairly unoriginal ways: light puzzle solving, platform jumping, coin and token collecting, and whatnot. Each of the 15 stages can be revisited to collect neglected tokens and coins and to complete forgotten miniquests.
The control scheme is more than equipped to deal with the scenarios Buzz is thrown into. Mapped to the buttons are jump, spin attack, shoot, and first-person perspective functions. The first-person perspective function is a nice touch, allowing you to fire away at evil toys in a most personal way, all the while showing off a neat reflection of Buzz's face on the inside of his helmet's facemask. Gameplay varies in pleasant ways, providing a decent variety of platform conventions to put Buzz through.
While the game can be played with both the analog stick and digital keys, the former is way too responsive, bordering on oversensitive and temperamental. Truth be told, it's nearly impossible to move Buzz in a straight line, making precarious movement more annoying than challenging. Save for the footraces with the RC car (during which accuracy is negligible), you'll likely play the game with the digital pad, as it offers a slightly more manageable option.
The camera is also a bit temperamental, though never to a truly appalling extent. You can choose from two camera modes: active and passive. Both of these modes are decently functional, though the former isn't as active as its name implies. In what seems to be more of a symptom of the genre in general, poor camera performance results in difficult jumps being more difficult, and precious moments lost (in boss-battles, especially) to camera realignment.
Sonically, Toy Story 2 is legit. Voice clips were borrowed from the film, and the game's rousing themes seem to fit the theme appropriately. Though Buzz's quips get old, real fans of the movie will no doubt enjoy hearing their favorite Buzz-isms rattled out incessantly.
Overall, Activision has done a decent, if uninspired, job of porting the game to yet another platform. In truth, there isn't much, aside from visuals, that sets the Dreamcast version from the game's previous incarnations. Fans of the toy-box crew will have no trouble getting down with their in-game counterparts, though those who've played the earlier incarnations will have little to look forward to, save a major facelift and some cleaner-looking FMVs.