Time was that news of a licensed game would provoke bouts of nausea among video game reviewers - and a game based on a much-loved kids franchise even more so.
Truth be told, I wasn't too enamoured with the idea of reviewing Toy Story: Smash It! for iOS for this very (only slightly outdated) reason.
Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about - this is the most entertaining casual-physics game I've played on my iPad for quite some time.Boom time
While the lazy summary of Toy Story: Smash It! would be that it's basically a 3D Angry Birds, it's probably more accurate to say that it plays and looks like the forgotten Wii gem Boom Blox. Which predates Rovio's pig-crusher by about 18 months.
Playing the part of Buzz Lightyear, you have to lob a variety of balls, balloons, and other contraptions in order to topple a series of rudimentary forts. The idea is to get at the green alien toys hidden within or atop these forts in as few throws as possible, and you can circle around to the left or right of the level to improve your angle of approach.
There are also three golden cubes (spelling out the word 'toy') to collect in each round if you want to ace the obligatory three-star scoring system.Throwing your toys out of the pram
It's not particularly original, then, but Toy Story: Smash It! succeeds because the 3D physics engine provides such instant tactile fun. Towers topple, wobble, and collapse extremely realistically, making each stage fun to play even when you fail at your initial attempts.
Introducing new more destructive elements to play only heightens the fun. For example, there are balloons that can be tossed and inflated at key points, sending any over-hanging structures into the sky.
Explosive parcels are less clever but no less satisfying to utilise.Smashing
Level design is Toy Story: Smash It!'s other key strength. Real thought has gone into making each stage feel like a gloriously destructive playground rather than a dry, perplexing logic puzzle.
There's just the right amount of chaos and unpredictability stirred into each stage, so you often get a 'lucky' break with a stray block toppling an adjacent structure. This is almost as satisfying as executing a clinical demolition job, for which there are plenty of opportunities.
Toy Story: Smash It! isn't perfect. The aiming system is arguably a little too simple and even vague, with little in the way of pinpoint precision and nothing in the way of changing your power.
But for providing a convincing, vibrant suite of physics-based toys and marrying it to an entertaining game structure it deserves plenty of attention.