It was inevitable. With the 100 million figures sold and nearly $1 billion in franchise sales over the last year and a half, Skylanders has set a new benchmark for toy-related video games. And with a third title, Swap Force, in the works for release this fall, that train isn't coming to a stop anytime soon.
If anyone can compete with such a force, it's Disney. This company churns out millions of dollars in marketable toys and other goods, so why shouldn't it try its hand at interactive video games? And so it will this June with the release of Disney Infinity, coming to a variety of consoles.
This game shouldn't be considered "Skylanders Lite," however, as Disney has an initiative behind Infinity. Players will not only be able to complete pre-set missions with characters within the game, but also access a mode where they can build their own little world, provided they have the necessary discs to open it up for them – which can be bought at any given retailer that's selling the game. Yep, parents, you're about to go broke again – but at least you'll be happy.
Disney Infinity is the brainchild of Avalanche Software, a team that worked its magic on a Disney franchise years ago with Toy Story 3, which proved more effective than most movie-licensed fare. Like that extraordinary title, Infinity will benefit from two different modes – one that features various missions for players to complete, featuring a character from the related franchise; and the Toy Box, where the player can pretty much let their mind run wild and create whatever they wish using unlocked items from the game universe.
Like Skylanders, Disney Infinity will come packaged with an interactive portal, in which figures can be placed upon. The starter pack will come with three figurines – Mr. Incredible, Sully from Monster Inc. (and the upcoming sequel Monsters University) and Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series. You can actually mix different characters into various universes, depending what "world discs" you use on the portals. So if you ever wanted to see what Lightning McQueen (from Cars) can do on the grounds of Monster University, here's your chance.
Though missions haven't been broken down yet, you can pretty much expect a "point A to point B" set-up similar to Skylanders, where you chase after particular items while occasionally battling foes and opening up new areas of the world. The game will support local co-op, so a friend can come along and maybe even help you complete objectives that require a bit of help.
Worlds will be just as personable as the characters that inhabit them. You can expect levels based on Monsters University, Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean and other popular locales from movies to be included – with the discs you purchase at retail. This allows users to go after their favorites, so if they don't want to deal with the virtual world of Wreck-It Ralph, they don't have to. (But, really, why pass over the opportunity to check it out?)
While the missions will take you a little bit of time to get through (and offer something quite enjoyable for all ages – it's Disney, after all), the Toy Box is bound to be the defining thing for Infinity's replay value. As stated above, this mode lets you unlock items over the course of each mission, which you can then incorporate into your own personal space, creating your own little utopia, which you can visit with various characters from the Disney universe. There's no word yet if any sort of online interaction will be included (not looking likely, at this rate), but plenty of mini-games and events should keep players busy regardless.
Best of all, Disney Infinity allows expansion, and even though it'll be on the costly side, the opportunities for this are wide open. Characters from The Incredibles, Pirates, Cars, Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, and Monsters Inc. have already been confirmed, and more from The Nightmare Before Christmas and other franchises will be revealed over the next few months. And beyond that, Disney could very well incorporate characters from its owned franchises. Imagine Animal from The Muppets teaming up with Han Solo from the Star Wars universe, and bringing Iron Man and Spider-Man from Marvel along for the ride. NOTE: these folks haven't been confirmed just yet, but seeing as it's a Disney related game – and a very bankable idea – don't be surprised if they're eventually tied in.
No, Disney Infinity won't reinvent the wheel as far as interactive toys go, but with its vast amount of licenses, the enormous appeal of the Toy Box, and hours' worth of exploration for you and your friends and family members, it really is going to Infinity and beyond.
Look for Disney Infinity this June on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS.