When Activision first released their pioneering tie-in-cash-cow-button-masher Skylanders, it seemed only a matter of time before many other publishers recognised the money making potential and jumped on the bandwagon.
To Toys for Bob’s credit, they created a vast universe of characters, each with their own unique traits and vibrant world for you to explore with them. The only problem being that the game itself was utter dross, saved by it’s unique selling point of real world figures. Mention the figures to any parent of a Skylanders obsessed child, and they’d probably feel nauseous – at nearly £8 a pop (nearly £15 for the giants!), this wasn’t like buying your kid a pack of Pogs.
When I heard of Disney’s plans to enter the “tie-in-cash-cow-button-masher” sector, I grimaced a little. It would be yet another strain on the purse-strings as my son aimed to collect as many, or more, figures than his friends, whilst testing his finger dexterity in world after world of repetitive AI, scenery and quests.
Disney have a couple of tricks up their sleeves however, which they hope will elevate Infinity above and beyond the competition.
Disney probably have the biggest pool of characters and universes to draw from in the entire entertainment industry (especially as they now own the Star Wars franchise). Kids will be able to collect figures from their favourite Disney feature length films, TV shows and shorts including the likes of Buzz Lightyear, Captain Jack Sparrow, Mike Wazowski, Peter Pan and Mickey Mouse.
During the story portion of the game, each cast of characters will be playable exclusively in their own game world which will each act as their own different type of game. Play with the cast of Disney Pixar’s Cars for example, and you can probably expect some form of racing game and open world to explore. Play with the Pirates of the Caribbean set and you can expect a much more frantic, action packed, swashbuckling adventure aboard galleons and deserted islands.
It’s this set of core, recognisable household favourites that gives Disney an instant grounding and level of acquaintance that money can’t buy. Then you dig a little deeper and find that Disney aren’t satisfied with just creating another Skylanders clone. Introducing Disney Infinity’s Toy Box.
Woody, with the jetpack, in Never Never Land
The Toy Box mode is where all the magic happens, bringing infinite possibilities in gameplay that only look paralleled in Microsoft’s upcoming Project Spark. Toy Box allows you to drop in any of the characters you own in to a massive sandbox of opportunity. Players can drop any of Disney’s assets in to the game as they wish; Want Sulley to pilot the Black Pearl across Andy’s room? You got it.
Players can mix and match assets, individual tiles, skins and textures on to any elements that they like, building up their own mish-mash world of eccentricity that they’re free to explore at their leisure.
The Super Mike Wazowski Brothers
The creative freedom doesn’t end there. The Toy Box also allows you to program basic (and in some cases relatively complex) logic in to certain objects, giving them triggers and goals, allowing the user to turn a simple corner of the sandbox in to their very own living, breathing game.
Drop a camera object in for example, set it to 2D and kick start your mini-game, and watch your character’s suddenly go from their free-roaming Toy Box camera to playing a side scrolling platformer.
Drop in a few blocks, enemies (each with their own logic of course!) and a flag at the end and voila! You’ve re-created Mario. Don’t believe it’s that simple? Check out the video above to see Buzz Lightyear complete world 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. and beyond.
The possibilities are endless. Disney has shown off some of their own Toy Box creations, demonstrating fully working games of football with working score boards, top down racing games in the mould of Spy Hunter, and something that looks remarkably like Pilot Wings!
On current viewing, Disney are looking to offer much more value for money and hours of entertainment than anything Activision have previously offered. I just hope my son won’t go mad when he finds out I own more playsets than he does.
Disney Infinity is set to be released on the 18th of August for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS and PC.