When Disney Infinity was announced, besides the people who could care less (which they shouldn’t), there were two opinions: those that were excited and those that thought Disney was ripping off Skylanders. Those in the second group were wrong, but they definitely had the right to be reserved. It’s actually even more surprising that no one else has lept up to challenge the Skylanders money train, but unlike the usual cash grabs, Avalanche Software is taking care to honor the properties they have and you should definitely be excited for Disney Infinity.
5. Creating Your Own Disney Playground
I am a much admitted Disney fanatic. More than just the movies and tv properties, I soak up knowledge about the creation of and intricate details about the theme parks. That’s one of the most interesting aspects of Disney Infinity, the opportunity to craft my own digital Disney park. Not only are there elements to create games within the Toy Box environment, there are enough classic Disney rides and scenery to fill the world with all the personal flavor you want. I’m usually not the type to dive into the create your own aspect of games, but Avalance is throwing so much Disney nostalgia at me that I actually want to build.
It’s not just creating a playground. The amount of different gameplay scenarios you can create is reminiscent of the variety LittleBigPlanet two offered. One of my favorite aspects is only cosmetic. When you place basic scenery, depending on the themed tilesets you have on your Infinity Base, that scenery changes to match. A fence becomes coral when you put the Finding Nemo theme on. An open blue sky becomes a thick forest when you swap on the Alice in Wonderland theme. Not only is this instant swapping impressive, but it allows them to mine the Disney catalog for plenty of different styles to tickle your nostalgia bone.
4. Saving and Sharing
As with any game that asks you to create within, Disney Infinity has a full featured network to share these levels with your friends and the Internet. While it’s not an unusual feature, the ways that you can swap styles with the different style hex discs elevates the usual creation mechanic without having to go in and manually edit someone else’s worlds. It’s also really nice to actually recreate classic Disney scenes into gameplay levels with licensed assets. I can’t wait to play through that Buzz Lightyear/Zurg fight from the opening of Toy Story 2.
3. Plenty of Game
I love Disney, as I’ve said, but beyond that there is one huge draw for me to Disney Infinity and that’s what the different playsets bring to the game. As much as I loved Skylanders, besides a few DLC levels that the expansion sets provided, buying new figures only added more characters to the already established game. Each playset that you buy for Disney Infinity not only gives you more items to use in the Toy Box, but provides a themed open world for you to explore and do missions within.
This Play Set Mode is supposed to provide a reported 6-8 hour experience to the game per set. That’s the best justification for buying more sets I’ve ever seen. It’s not DLC, you’re buying a physical item and unlocking large areas that add to the game. Not to mention that the starter set already includes three playsets and associated figures, that’s already giving you about 20 hours of gameplay outside of Toy Box.
2. Mining Nostalgia in a Positive Way
The good people at Avalanche know how to pull at the heartstrings of us Disney fanatics, because they are clearly cut from the same cloth. We interviewed John Day of Avalanche and the two of us nerded out about Disney history. The fact that someone could match and out do me on Disney facts in something as casual as an interview shows, to me, that they know exactly what they’re doing. This isn’t some cheap nostalgia grab, this is showing properties that deserve it the honor and reverence they’ve earned.
I’m a pin collector, I’ve spent hours, days reading and absorbing Disney history, I can sense when someone is trying to pander to me and when they genuinely care. I know it’s hard to believe when the first playsets that are coming out are all very modern or Pixar properties, but right underneath this popular surface is a wide breadth of true Disney love. They know we want this too and they’re set to profit off our love, but considering that I’ve been asking someone to take my money for something exactly like this, I’m not complaining.
1. Infinite Possibilities
The Disney catalog is so huge that they can release new playsets for years and years to come. I would personally love a Rocketeer and Tron playset, now will those ever come, who knows? What I do know is that there is always a distinct possibility. Disney has seen fit to dive back into its own catalog lately, especially with Tron: Legacy and the upcoming remake of The Black Hole, while the announced playsets may not be up everyone’s alley, they are clearly saving the big properties to keep the conversation going further down the line.
Not to mention that Disney has both Marvel and Lucasfilm under its wing now. Having Spider-Man teaming up with Indiana Jones to take down Sark would make my brain explode. Patton Oswalt’s filibuster from Parks and Recreation could become a reality all through Disney Infinity. Even if that doesn’t happen, the possibility is open and the potential is endless and that alone should make it worthy of your attention.
It could have been so easy to just copy Skylanders and throw the enormous weight and depth of the Disney properties at it to captivate the marketplace, but the team at Avalanche Software not only knew to do something more to differentiate themselves, but are putting in the time and effort to properly honor the beloved properties they are working with. Disney Infinity should definitely be on your radar and preorder list for when it releases August 18.