This has been one of the games that I have really been looking forward to this year. While I never got into the whole Skylanders thing, I am very much a huge Disney fan. The idea of meshing pretty much everything Disney was too much to even comprehend, and the trailers showed more and more possibilities. But this game had a lot to live up to.

I think people honestly forget how big Disney is: There are the live action and animated films, nature films, theme parks, cruise lines, radio stations, record labels, retail stores, ESPN, ABC Television, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax, Broadway shows, ice shows…. That’s not even counting properties like Pixar, Lucasfilm (Star Wars/Indiana Jones), Marvel Comics (Spider-Man, Avengers, X-Men), Muppets, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers…. It’s a LOT of properties and potential ideas.

And that’s what they are trying to accomplish in this game.

From the opening moment the game begins, it is undeniably Disney. When you are greeted by Mickey Mouse and asked to follow him down a glowing, ever growing world, I freely admit that I started to grin as Rapunzel, Jack Skellington, Woody, Wreck-It Ralph, and others greeted me cheerfully as I made my way through the tutorial as Disney-esque music swelled in the background. It’s a lovely effect.

The game is played by placing a number of collectible style figures along with discs that grant abilities and items onto a player base. These are not cheap looking figures as they are excellently detailed, and are desirable enough even if you didn’t own (or want to own) the game.

Once you place your figure, you can go into two modes: An adventure mode, or Toy Box. Here’s how they break down:

Adventure Mode: The game comes with Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, Sulley from Monsters University, and Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. Each world is actually very different from each other, so if there’s worry that the adventures are just reskins with the same missions, don’t be. Mr. Incredible fights in an open world super hero adventure. Jack Sparrow takes to the high seas to track down Davy Jones and the Kraken, and Sulley does a prank war themed run against Fear Tech.

Each game features colorful cutscenes, a lot of item hunting (complete with special chests only specific characters can open), and items that expand the Toy Box. I haven’t tried Cars or Lone Ranger, but I will be all about Toy Story when that comes out.

Toy Box: This takes more explanation. It’s pretty daunting how much you can do, as it is similar to open world games like Minecraft. The editor expands as you collect more items from the Vault (which plays like a slot machine), and they have everything from racetracks, to pinball parts, 2D cameras, rails to slide on, sports toys…. I am still getting used to it, but you can make practically any sort of game you can think of. You can even share your world or download other worlds. Disney’s sent out a few really great ones, including a Tron/Wreck-It Ralph mash-up. And it all works well.

As for all the other aspects of the game, there’s a lot to cover.

Characters: The greatest effect of the characters as you place them on the base for the first time is how they directly greet you, which just hit a lot of right notes for me. The game comes with a few nods to various properties, ranging from DuckTales, Tron, Muppets, Robin Hood, Nightmare Before Christmas, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland…. Before you get too excited, however, most of them are little townsfolk that show up to place in your Toy Box. Think the old-school “Little People” from Fisher Price sets. But they are great fun to pick up, kick, and throw around. Actually, I found a lot of amusement throwing these little fellows through buildings in the Incredibles world. But they’re toys. That’s how everything is presented (and explains why everything can now merge). Everything really is a toy. Racetrack parts have little connector snaps in them, Rhino Guards from Robin Hood have bendy joints like an action figure, and when a character “dies” they simply break apart, and then reassemble. There’s shooting and swordplay, but it’s presented in such a light and casual manner that it comes across as less violent, and more action oriented. Weapons range from utterly silly to really cool.

The playable characters are fun, and are diverse. Mrs. Incredible can use her stretchy powers to beat up bad guys. Mr. Incredible is super strong. Mike and Sulley scare people and charge them. Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones use flintlocks and swords. And Cars cars simply drive around, not unlike the vehicles you can collect. And regarding the cars, the driving controls are very tight and responsive. I had a lot of fun just driving and doing stunts around the worlds due to the excellent control.

Items: There are a lot of items that you can find in game or through “Power Discs” that can be purchased. That can be anything from new mounts, vehicles, weapons, world reskins, or abilities to enhance your characters. The detail is wonderful. I got a disc that had Cinderella’s Carriage on it, and initially, I was “eh, okay” about it. Yet, once I took control of the vehicle, the music instantly changed into the music and songs from Cinderella. Instead of an engine noise, the vehicle drives with horse neighs and hoofbeats. I was instantly charmed watching the cruel Davy Jones take a merry jaunt on a racing loop. Getting a Recognizer from Tron kicks in Daft Punk music. Reskins from Alice in Wonderland cue music and dialogue from the film. Driving the Autopia car cues in ride dialogue and music. I love the backgrounds and vehicles for this reason.

You can also get cool buildings like the Disneyland version of the Haunted Mansion, Scrooge McDuck’s money bin (which opens), rail grind through the Matterhorn, or jump the included ramp in Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. eventually, I plan to create my own “Disney World”, but I have to earn more parts, and I hope expansions address some notable omissions (Space Mountain, Tree of Life), as well as some Disney landmarks that need to be there.

There are a few issues that should be addressed about the game. First of which, being the price and “need” to collect. Here’s what I bought on launch day:

Honestly, this cost me a total of $35, and I’ll tell you how I got off so lightly price-wise:

Trade ins covered the costs of the Starter Set and an extra disc pack, so for me, that was “free”. Pre-orders had offers that included an extra character and disc pack. Toys R Us has been running a fantastic promotion where you buy one, get another half off. I was able to score the exclusive “crystal” variant of Lightning McQueen, and a a special disc of Mike’s Car. So while this could have cost me easily over $150, trade ins and smart deal shopping saved me a lot of money on the wallet. The moral of the story: Look for deals before you buy, because they exist.

NOTE: You do not need to buy the extra figures in order to fully enjoy this game. That said, the extra figures do help with powering up levels to increase for stars, fills up the “Hall or Heroes”, allows for access in certain areas of gameplay adventures, and enables two player play within the specific character adventures. In other words: The other characters are not required, but they do add to the overall gameplay.

* Other issues are variety in disc packs. I got a few that I wanted, but the Alice in Wonderland theme must be the most common variant, as I have a ton of discs from that set over everything else. It’s a little irritating, considering packs are $5 a pop, and I hope to trade/sell those off for things I’d rather have. It makes me very hesitant to buy any more discs right now, however.

* The game editor is easy to learn, but not as intuitive as Minecraft. The problem being that it is not as “grid” based as Minecraft. You can easily make something the wrong height, or off center, and there’s no “Undo” button. They have an editor and magic wand that can readjust pieces, but even when the editor “greenlights” that the piece is in the correct place, it may or may not be centered. Fortunately, the tutorial is very helpful, and the learning curve is manageable once you “get it”.

* The initial character lineup is far too Pixar and Johnny Depp heavy for my tastes. If you like Pixar films, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Lone Ranger, you’re in luck. It’s a strange initial starter set. I don’t expect a “Herbie the Love Bug” power-up right out of the gate (though they do have a Condorman(?) disc coming soon), but the initial wave comes off as pretty “contemporary” biased. The next playset? Another Pixar film (though I do love Toy Story). It’s surprising to not see “Mickey and Friends”, any of the Princess line, or even Winnie the Pooh make part of the initial cut. Same as for more adventure themes like Tron and Aladdin.

The game is supposed to essentially be the Disney game as new movies come out, but I was surprised to see Scrooge McDuck not promoted to celebrate DuckTales. Wave 2 has a much more diverse lineup (including Mickey Mouse), so at least this expands the choices a lot more. I am hoping that in time we will see playsets and characters based on Muppets, the Avengers, Star Wars (a lightsaber has been confirmed in game via screenshots), and even Donald, Goofy and a few more “girl” figures (I would buy a Belle and Beast pack).

* Want to play two-player? Buy more figures. You know what you’re getting into here, but Mike, Mrs. Incredible, and Davy Jones had to join up in order for the Missus and I to play together. That said, two player is a lot of fun, both building and playing. And you don’t have to buy everything. No one is forcing you to. People complain about multiple DLC transactions that has spawned out of modern gaming, which I totally agree with, but in this case, you get a really high quality figure to keep and display, and considering that the average Vinylmation figure is roughly around the same price, at least you can take these off your collector’s shelf to have great virtual adventures with.

Overall, Disney Infinity delivers on its promise. The gameplay options are diverse and ambitious, and the platforming and driving elements control really well. There are currently enough references in the initial line-up to make practically anyone with even the smallest of Disney interest squee, and the building and multi-player sections are fun.

I’ve seen a lot of user feedback in forums that is expecting Disney Infinity to not really catch on, but I think people underestimate how far reaching in popular culture Disney has become and continues to grow. All the stores in my area are by and large wiped out, so I think the game has shown that it has strong initial legs to expand into all the areas that it hasn’t gone yet. If Disney honestly cuts loose with this game like they are saying, if it’s not the game you want now, in a few months, it very well could be. I’ve abstained from getting this nerdcore, but I want a multi-player adventure with Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker driving the Ranger Plane and original lightcycles from 1982 Tron as they whiz by the Muppet Theater and “Bald Mountain” from Fantasia in a world based off of Treasure Planet. None of this stuff exists yet, but the game’s pure ambition actually makes me believe that it could.

As it stands, the charm and attention to detail in the game truly is infinite. That said, there are a lot of characters, items, and adventures that I really want to have showcased in the near future as I freely admit that my biggest issue now is simply impatience.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tagged with:

Filed under: post-script