30 Games Of April – Day 11

Toy Home
Factfile
Developed by: Game Republic
Published by: Sony
Released: 2003
Format played: Playstation 3

One of the great joys of being a gaming parent is when your kids are of an age to enjoy some of the games that you have already played.

Toy Home was one of the first games I downloaded for PS3. Being relatively new to the concept of downloadable games, I played a demo and, having enjoyed it, figured £5 was a more than reasonable investment. As with most games, it then gathered digital dust for a number of years as it fell victim to my obsession with Football Manager. Whoops.

Still in the meantime an update was released, the ‘2nd Gear’ expansion adding some new cars and tracks. Probably. To be honest I can’t remember the difference between the game I downloaded and the version now on my hard drive. That’s what comes with stockpiling games and not playing them.

The game itself is a driving game, the gimmick being that the driving action is based not on a track or street circuit but rather around the house. Your car is basically a Dinky toy, with levels based around a bedroom, the kitchen and all sorts of other household sights and obstacles.

If you’re thinking ‘so far, so Micro Machines’ then I hear you but the playing experience is very different. This is not a competitive racer, rather it is a single player affair, your task to rack up points and achieve objectives within the level. Points are awarded through a combination of collecting star clusters and performing outrageous stunts, higher scores available to those players able to hunt down the highest jumps, say from the top of a dolls house. Indeed there are all sorts of crazy situations to navigate, from toy trains to perilously balanced salt pots and giant rubber ducks. If you fancy a more leisurely drive then ditch the structured levels and simply drive round the course of your choice, making your own rules and setting your own goals.

Unlike with most other PS3 driving games, control is not via the sticks but rather entirely motion controlled via the Sixaxis. And here my kids had me at something of a disadvantage. Give me a pad with responsive shoulder buttons and a robust control stick and I’ll blaze the lap record. But give me motion controls and I’m a wreck. As seasoned Mario Kart players, my mob adapted quickly and, with the exception of the childish need to press every button going, bringing up maps, score stats and goodness knows what else, they were in their element. Control generally works fine although it lacks the immediacy of Mario. Handling is variable across the range of vehicles and you will find your own favourite, the lighter cars offering greater speed but prone to balance issues, the larger vehicles trading their pace for extra grip.

This is a fun little game. For adults, each course can be tackled and ‘completed’ by hitting specific score triggers. For kids, they can ignore all that gubbins and just have fun driving round bizarre courses, chasing the toy train down the track, smashing a football into a Subbuteo goal, knocking over a stack of dominoes and waving the Sixaxis up and down to make the car flip over.

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