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Thanks in no small part to the perpetual success of Angry Birds, the puzzle game has mutated its own amazingly popular block-breaking sub-genre. Not content to simply ape the competition, Toy Story: Smash It! takes that concept into three-dimensional space, and in doing so makes for one of the best games of its kind on iOS devices.
It's a simple concept that makes great use of a familiar property: Buzz Lightyear lobs balls at toy block play sets in Andy’s room, attempting to knock over all of the squeak-toy aliens in as few throws as possible. The stages iterate using different types of blocks, like resilient metal or easily-shattered glass, as well as a variety of projectiles, including a propeller ball, balloon, and explosive. This gives the game a great breadth of variety, and while it’s easy enough to rush through the stages for completion, attempting a three-star score in each exposes the game’s thoughtful puzzle design.
In fact, Smash It! continues to introduce new ideas right up until the last stage. That left us eager for more, but we never felt like our time had been wasted with unnecessary redundancy. In fact, a tease of more content coming on the horizon reassured us that the final inventive gimmick wouldn’t go to waste on a single puzzle.
Everything is delivered with the requisite Pixar charm, boasting vibrant visuals and cute moments of dialogue between the Toy Story cast. The stages are modeled after play time, so similar props will be given slightly different arrangements to abstractly represent outer space, the old west, or prehistoric dinosaurs, though knocking down aliens remains the goal regardless. Puzzles can occasionally feel a bit finicky, and even after figuring the solution, we sometimes had to repeat a stage several times to get the timing (and luck of physics working in our favor) precisely right. Despite that, we pressed through all of the stages and kept finding ourselves coming back to aim for a better score.
The bottom line. Toy Story: Smash It! is easy to pick up, hard to put down, and always enticing to play again. While completion may be brief and easy for experienced players, aiming to notch a perfect score provides sufficient challenge and shows just how clever the puzzles really are.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Beautiful presentation. Smartly designed puzzles. Plenty of replay value.
Some puzzle solutions require incredibly precise timing and a dash of luck.