Cute But Deadly
If the Toy Story movies taught us anything, it’s that toys have minds of their own. It might be more than one step from free will to organized tower attack and defense drills, but Toy Rush skips everything in-between and gives us toys battling toys with a collectible card game element thrown in for good measure. It’s as zany as it sounds, yet it’ll have you sending toys to their doom by the dozens without even batting an eye.
Toy Rush manages to nail the balance that many games seek but can’t find: it makes its core mechanics simple to learn but challenging to master. Each toy in your collection is represented by a card, and when you are on the attack, you simply drag cards onto the starting point of the level in question and watch your playthings go to work.
Attacking toys follow a pre-determined path (so maybe they don’t have that much free will) and will use their attacks on anything within range. There are three main categories of attackers — Plush, Tech and Beast — each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Each category also contains toys that serve different purposes, including damage absorption, ranged attacks, healing and more. Add in the fact that some travel by land and others by air and you’ve got a deceptively deep set of strategies to consider.
The CCG aspect comes into play because, except for one Super Toy that is your biggest gun, all of the toys you have early in the game are disposable and expendable. Each attack has a set time limit, and you can commit as many units as you wish until the enemy base is destroyed or you run out of cannon fodder. The idea, of course, is to use just enough manpower … er, toypower, to get the job done and conserve your resources.
Victory earns you tickets (the Toy Rush soft currency) which can be spent on additional packs of attacking cards. Tickets are also generated by robots back at your base, but not quickly enough to just spend willy-nilly. The resulting system constrains playtime in a more pleasant way than an energy resource, though you’ll find at times that you simply don’t have enough toys to mount an effective assault and will have to wait until you can buy more packs.
You’ll have to be mindful of the homefront too thanks to the PvP portion of the game. Players can attack and steal tickets by invading other players’ bases, with match-ups determined by a reputation system. Since other humans can also attack you, you’ll need defenses to guard the approach to your own buildings. Defenses can sometimes be earned as rewards, but mostly come in their own packs purchased with the game’s hard currency, Bottle Caps.
Happily, Bottle Caps can be had by conquering single-player levels and completing any of the game’s many achievements. Doing just about anything — defeating enemy defenses, opening packs or upgrading structures — earns experience points toward your overall level, unlocking new units and more powerful versions of old favorites. Super Toys can also be leveled up in their own right by feeding them (literally) unwanted cards.
Except for the social features like chat and clubs, that’s pretty much the gist of Toy Rush other than simply enjoying the cleverness of the overall design aesthetic. Even the relatively familiar world of tower attack is a little more fun when you’re sending in plush sharks, laser-firing robots and flying unicorn copters, and setting up a defense consisting of rubber band launchers, bottle rockets and jacks is equally amusing.
Considering that Uber Entertainment was the studio that gave us Super Monday Night Combat, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it pulled this concept off so effectively. Except for occasional crashes and the waiting you’ll need to do if you ever have all of your toys wiped out, there are few things not to like about Toy Rush. And if you find yourself laying out your kids’ things to guard the approach from the front door to the kitchen, no worries — I’ll know where you got the idea.