I have to say that one of my favorite video game innovations has been the utilization of near-field communication technology. Similar to that found in the Skylanders games and its accompanying figures, Disney Infinity asks consumers to buy a video game and then a bunch of high quality Disney-related figurines and discs to make a whole new experience. You take the figure and disc, place them on a special portal, and then watch as you unleash your favorite Disney characters in a virtual toy box, complete with appropriate, somewhat familiar, pre-made storylines.
The game features two main methods of play. The first, and weaker of the two, is a Play Set story mode, which acts as your traditional campaign mode tailored specifically for certain Disney universes and characters. There is no crossover between Disney worlds in this mode, so, for example, Jack Sparrow cannot enter the realm of The Incredibles. You have to be aware that, much like the aforementioned Skylanders, unlocking everything that this game has to offer will require some extra expenses.
Each play set has unique objectives for each character in its respective universe, so purchasing other characters from the same franchise is necessary to experience all that each universe has to offer. Each play set offers different gameplay. For example, The Incredibles features melee combat in a sandbox-like, mission-based environment; the Monsters play set feature a tedious and repetitive “scaring” game; and in the Pirates play set, you can take part in naval battles. By advancing through each universe, you collect more and more items like vehicles for use in the Toy Box mode. Frustratingly, some items need to be acquired through a random slot-machine like process, so this pads the gameplay unnecessarily.
It is unnecessary because the Toy Box mode is so substantial. It is where the bulk of your time will take place. If you have played LittleBigPlanet of Disney’s own Toy Story 3 game and its surprisingly solid Toy Box mode, you should be right at home here. You have the opportunity to let your imagination run wild as you have access to oodles of components – including characters and environments – from different Disney franchises to create your own games with their own rules (like a Mario-inspired platformer or your own Disney racer).
Like the aforementioned LittleBigPlanet, any fan-created levels can be uploaded online. Disney then chooses the best ones and, astonishingly, you will be able to play said levels on either the Wii U, PS3, or Xbox 360, regardless of where the level was first created. (Please note that the 3DS version is different from the console versions in both gameplay and functionality.) Even better, you will be able to use the iPad app to edit your creations on the go. The game’s content is only limited by what its community can create.
The biggest issue I have with Disney Infinity is the implementation of Power Discs. You are able to place up to two discs at a time beneath each character with each disc acting as a modifier. The round discs alter how your character plays, like adding more HP or power to your attacks. The hexagonal discs alter the realm of the Toy Box by adding unique items or changing the look and theme of the world altogether. (Can you guess what kind of environment the Finding Nemo disc makes the Toy Box look like?) These act as the game’s microtransactions. The problem is that – not including some sold at Toys R Us – they are sold unmarked (like trading cards), meaning you have no idea what kind of modifier comes in each two-pack. Due to blind-buying, if you want something specific, be prepared to possibly spend much more than you intend to. It really just depends on how much you want. There is still plenty to do without splurging.
There are already enough Disney universes and franchises available to offer months of gameplay, but the developers at Avalanche are promising support for years with a constant stream of play set and character releases. Smartly, they are already tapping into properties like Frozen that have not even been released yet. With Disney’s acquisition of the Marvel and Star Wars universes, and the company itself cranking out unique new properties, Disney Infinity truly is going to be the one that keeps on giving.
GameDynamo's Score for Disney Infinity (Wii)
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