Game Review: Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales

As the father of a preschool boy, I’ve seen the movie Cars far more times than I can count. When I heard about the release of a Wii game based on the new video, Mater’s Tall Tales, I was interested enough to want to check the game out. Mater’s Tall Tales is a set of minigames based around sequences from the video of the same name. While some are entertaining, and the visuals truly are top-notch, the gameplay of the 30-odd minigames fails to stand out from the very crowded minigame genre on the Wii console.

Despite its family-friendly target audience, the game starts out in a very confusing series of menus and selection screens until players find their way to the solo-play story mode. By playing through the six tall tales in order (five games for each one), players can unlock games to play in the freeplay and playlist modes. In households with slightly younger (or impatient) gamers, this means someone needs to go through the entire game to unlock all the minigames to make them available for group play.

The games are fairly standard fare, racing around streets, pointing at the screen to put out fires, tilting the controller to move Mater around on the screen, etc… With 30 games to try out, some are sure to resonate with a gamer more than others. On the plus side, a few of the games seem to have much more depth than in typical minigame collections – such as room for some exploration in some of the racing modes. Players can also earn coins as they play, which can then be used to trick out your car – earning new body types, decals, tires, paint jobs, etc…

On the whole, Mater’s Tall Tales is a mixed bag. It has stunning visuals and audio commentary, as one might expect in a Pixar associated title, but only serves up a selection of decent, but not outstanding, minigames. By forcing gamers to play through the solo mode to unlock every game, the game is sure to be played for awhile. The coin and trophy collection features are a nice touch to keep fans of the game coming back for more. Big fans of the Cars series (and Mater’s Tall Tales in particular) are going to enjoy the game despite some of its flaws. For everyone else, the game doesn’t quite stand out from the very crowded minigame field.

Kid Factor: As a game targeted toward kids and families, there is very little to worry about here. Some of the games can be frustrating at times, but many are approachable by kids as young as 5 or 6. A more advanced player may be needed to unlock some segments of the story to free up all the games for use in party modes. Reading is not required, as the instructions for each minigame are explained and demonstrated when the game is first presented.

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