Developer: Avalanche Software Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios System: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Wii-U
Rated: E fo Everyone Release Date: August 18, 2013
MSRP: $74.99 Starter Pack, $14 per character, $30 for triple packs, $35 for level packs and $6 for Power Discs
By Christopher Medrano
Given the success of Skylanders, it was only a matter of time for someone to copy the formula; swappable toys that allow you to play as new characters on the fly. Enter Disney Infinity (Infinity for short), Disney’s attempt to venture into the toy/game hybrid. In Infinity, players are able to explore some of the recent, memorable worlds under the Disney label as some of their favorite characters. Yet, does the game handle like a carbon copy of Skylanders? Or is it different enough to stand on its own merit?
Before diving into the game itself, let’s compare the hardware between the two games. The Disney Infinity toys are a little bigger with the exception being the giants for Skylanders. Skylanders figures have a more detail on them while the characters for Infinity have a cartoonish, animated feel that appeals to little kids. One similarity the games do share is that your characters come with cards that have codes you can use.
The portal for Infinity feels very organized with its design; the portal is thin, short and small in size to not take up space. Skylanders allows you to place the characters anywhere on its giant portal device, Infinity has specific spots for you to place the characters and other toys on. The drawback to the size of Infinity’s portal is how flimsy it can feel. There are some protectors for the but at the cost of ten dollars.
Another thing Infinity does different are power discs that help your gameplay. There are two different types of power discs; circle discs help to level up your character, and the hexagon shaped discs unlock new items in the toy box. The toy box allows you to use these items in its level building mode. Skylanders has something similar like weapons that help you fight enemies, or a treasure box for extra money, but nothing as impacting on the gameplay.
Insert pic here of power disc and skylander treasure chest
Disney Infinity’s starter pack characters unlock three worlds for you to explore; The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters University.. You can get more levels to explore by purchasing other toys like Cars or the Long Ranger. That being said Infinity does not have an overarching campaign branching the worlds together, and you can only play the certain levels with their respective characters. This brings up a potential problem; do levels you unlock through certain characters become inaccessible if you lose the corresponding toy piece? Skylanders does the opposite; the game has a unique single player campaign for the various characters to explore, but no extra levels with new characters. Instead, you have to buy the pieces for the extra content separately.
Lastly, the final and most important difference between the games is pricing; Infinity is definitely a hefty investment. The starter pack will run players $74.99. Characters outside of the starter pack cost $14 per each one, and $30 for triple character packs and $35 for level packs (GameStop has them at $40). Skylanders is less of an investment with the starter pack at $59.99, $15 for the giants, $10 for regular characters and $25 for level packs. When it comes to the power/items pack, Infinity’s costs $6 whereas Skylander’s comes with the level packs.
Besides the hardware, how does Infinity fare in gameplay? After an introduction with the game talking about how a single spark of imagination can become something magical, you can play in various Disney worlds with their characters. I had a lot of fun venturing through levels in Toy Story, Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Incredibles because it felt like I was reliving my childhood memories. Disney knows how to hit the right notes to create the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from nostalgia. The Toy Box, a level creation mode, is fun; you can spend hours creating levels with the objects you collect from previous adventures. The Toy Box is even more fun playing with a friend either online or on the same TV. Because of the game’s focus on level building, this might not be the game for you if you are not into that. Then there is the Hall of Heroes; it is a coliseum showing all the characters and power discs you have collected. Seeing what I have gotten so far, and the space that’s left in the coliseum, creates a desire to want to collect everything to fill it up.
The aspect that might be make-or-break for Disney Infinity is the lack of a single player campaign; because the game’s emphasis is on player freedom and level building there is no cohesive story to put the worlds together. However, you get to explore the levels that come with the characters and they are fun to play. All worlds have unique quests, collectibles and items you can buy. For example, in Monsters University you get to face off against the different fraternities of the school and in The Incredibles you get to fight crime.
On the flipside, while Skylanders allowed many characters to be in the same world, Disney Infinity does not. Characters are stuck to their own universe if you try local co-op unless you go to the Toy Box. When my friend and I tried out co-op together, we could not play as Sully and Jack Sparrow in the Monster University levels. I would have to buy another character from the same world to do local co-op in those levels.
Another problem, which I can only hope change over time, is the lack of the classic Disney characters like Aladdin, Mulan and Simba. Granted, because this is a game targeted towards younger kids it makes sense that characters like Phineas and Ferb would be marketed for this game. However, there is an undeniable charisma to the classic characters that I think it would be a disservice not to bring them into the game. Not to mention, it would be a great way to get kids introduced to the classic Disney movies.
Disney Infinity is a game that I can see is worth investing into down the line, but is something you can hold off on for now. The game is definitely geared towards a younger audience, and with the initial character roster it might be harder for older gamers to get into. For the moment, Skylanders offers more for gamers with cheaper cost, a great single player campaign and cast of characters. Right now Disney Infinity comes off more as a cash grab with its deliberate marketing than a solid game. That’s not to say that it is a bad game; it can be a fun experience for parents and children to play together. Infinity just needs more time to develop into a solid gaming experience for both young and older games. Thanks for reading, Olive Juice!!