Thursday, April 9, 2009

Toy Shop Boys

Victor Musical Industries

The draw in this vert is that players "get to" control a party of three flying guys. Each dope wields unique weaponry (normal bullets, homing boomerangs, or a spinning laser blade good for swatting away projectiles). You change the "leader" of the group to switch weapons; the other two clowns just flank the shooter and essentially act as defense-only options. For all that, TSB basically plays like any other shooter that lets you change weapons with the push of a button. It counts on its multi-goof system to be its hook, but there really isn't that much strategy involved or many on-the-fly changes to be made.

And for a game with such a lighthearted theme, the visuals are inappropriately drab. The designers incorporated the "toy" concept into one background by randomly placing lego blocks amid boring browns, greens, and grays.

The fourth-stage desert is the one nice-looking area: the amount of detail put into the texture of the bright sands is surprising considering the simplicity that plagues most of the environments, and there are myriad dead things scattered about the attractive canvas.

The music is acceptable--somewhat jolly if pretty plain.

You'll have to deal with a decent number of small toy-themed enemies, but the action never really becomes intense. Although the weapons you're granted are underwhelming, you'll probably cruise right through the levels. The boss battles, on the other hand, may require some practice, which is good...

...but the checkpoints can be downright stupid. Die and you'll be back to square one with your weaponry and dropped down to slow-as-shit speed, and since your adversaries usually won't accommodate you with a sufficient supply of power-ups right away, making progress following but a single setback can be an unduly frustrating process.

It's hard to recommend Toy Shop Boys when the system has so many better verts, even if we count only the HuCard-based options. While there's nothing terribly wrong with its fundamental gameplay, the chip comes off as a weak product overall with drab graphics, annoying checkpoints, and a calling card that wasn't built on adequately. And those three kids look really dumb as they're flying around.

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