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What Just Happened?: Disney Infinity

With all the success that Activision had with Skylanders and Skylanders Giants, you kinda knew it was only a matter of time until others started jumping on the whole “toys and video games” bandwagon. And while we’re seeing some of that with iPads, nobody’s jumped into the console space yet. Until now.

On Tuesday, Disney Interactive announced Disney Infinity, a rather ambitious-looking project that looks to bring all of your favourite Disney characters from a range of properties to life. There will be collectible figures that you place on a special base to make the characters appear in the game. Depending on the character, they will appear in the appropriate Play Set where they can participate in several activities and collect various objects that they can then use in Toy Box mode, sort of a free range of Disney goodness and creativity.

If Toy Box mode sounds familiar, it should, as it was the best parts of the Toy Story 3 video game. It was also the inspiration for Disney Infinity, as the Toy Box idea was going to be made into its own game in the Toy Story world by Toy Story 3 developers Avalanche Software, but it basically blew up into what Disney have announced now with Infinity. Check out the launch trailer and press release below for more info, but I wanted to take a bit of time to give my thoughts on what we’ve seen so far.

First, yes, it looks like it could be Skylanders Disney. The influences are obvious. There are some differences to note, however. The base has pre-set places for figures and other interactive pieces, unlike the Portal of Power which lets you just put the figures wherever. There will also be special Power Discs that you place under characters for upgrades which will apparently be stackable. These might be powers, gadgets, or other enhancements. Also, the gameplay will be different. You can put any Skylander on the Portal and play any level (save for the special elemental areas), whereas you can only play in a Pirates of the Caribbean world with a Pirates character. You will, of course, get to mash up any characters you want in the Toy Box area, which will open up some interesting cross-property possibilities. From what we’ve seen so far, it does not look like Disney Infinity will be a proper long-form adventure like the Skylanders games, but more a number of smaller independent levels and a large hub world. This has potential to really drain the bank account. You could theoretically play an entire Skylanders game with one character (though you wouldn’t be able to access every area), but that won’t be the case with Disney Infinity. Hopefully the Toy Box will be robust enough to justify the investment.

With a vast amount of intellectual property to tap into, it’s easy to get excited about the potential of Disney Infinity. It’s also easy to not get excited about the potential for laying out vast amounts of money. There are a LOT of characters in the Disney vault. In the initial figures, screenshots, and trailers shown we’re only seeing a subset of characters from properties like Monsters Inc., Cars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Incredibles, Phineas and Ferb, and probably a bunch of others I’ve forgotten because of the overwhelming scope of what we’ve seen so far. And what if Disney decides to add newly acquired properties like Marvel and Star Wars to the party? You think Infinity is just a clever name that the Imagineers at Disney came up with? I think it’s more a harbinger of what they really have planned for this game.

The one big advantage that Disney has going into this that Skylanders never did was the weight of the Disney brand. Besides borrowing Spyro, Skylanders was a new brand that didn’t have a lot of mainstream momentum behind it. But the idea was what sold everybody. Now take that idea, and add well-known and well-loved characters, and you have the potential for a massive hit. Will it work? Will people have no money for it because Skylanders wiped them out? We won’t have to wait long to find out as Disney Infinity is scheduled for release in June 2013. Better start saving now.

DISNEY INFINITY INVITES PLAYERS INTO ALL-NEW GAMING UNIVERSE WITH UNMATCHED CREATIVE POSSIBILITIES

For the First Time, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ Most Popular Characters Come Together in a Magical Storytelling Experience

BURBANK, Calif. – (JANUARY 15, 2013) – Disney Interactive today unveiled its most ambitious gaming initiative ever, Disney Infinity. This all new game platform unlocks the freedom to create stories and play experiences starring beloved characters from The Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios. Disney Infinity allows players to both experience original adventures in some of their favourite Disney and Pixar worlds and to build their own worlds using the power of their imagination.

Disney Infinity introduces a new way to interact with the best of Disney on one game platform, both now and in the future,” said John Pleasants, co-president, Disney Interactive. “With this innovative approach to gaming, Disney Infinity will bring to life new characters, stories and environments from The Walt Disney Company over time in a way that will delight fans and gamers alike.”

In a way that only Disney can, Disney Infinity integrates collectible character figures that come to life in the game.  These figures provide experiences that are true to these characters and stories, as well as the opportunity to bring characters from various Disney and Pixar films to play together in a virtual “Toy Box.” This all-new game universe will launch in June across all consoles and will have a phased roll out across mobile and online devices throughout 2013.

Throughout each story-driven experience, called a “Play Set,” players will solve challenging puzzles, battle enemies and explore iconic locations from famous Disney properties, while collecting unique characters, vehicles, and gadgets from each world and saving them to a virtual “Toy Box.” Players can access their “Toy Box” and build and customize their own unique virtual world using their favourite characters, vehicles, settings and accessories. Disney Infinity allows players the opportunity to share these unique creations in the “Toy Box” mode with friends both online and off.

The Disney Infinity Platform includes:

·         Disney Infinity Interactive Pieces – Initially a line of 40 collectible interactive pieces will be introduced that allow players to expand and customize their play experiences.

·         Disney Infinity Interactive Character Figures – Seventeen character figures will allow players to experience a variety of their favourite characters in true to property experiences and in “Toy Box” mode.

·         Disney Infinity Base – When figures are placed on the Infinity base, they unlock the world and play experiences of Disney Infinity.

·         Disney Infinity Power Discs– Interactive discs can be placed on the Infinity base to power up characters and “Toy Box” with unique powers, customizations and gadgets.

Disney Infinity combines prominent Disney and Pixar characters and scenarios in a way that mimics how kids play in real life,” said John Blackburn, vice president and general manager, Avalanche Software. “With our platform’s unique gameplay mechanics and innovative approach to user generated content within the “Toy Box” mode, Disney Infinity will spark imaginations and provide endless hours of fun and creativity.”

Development for Disney Infinity is being led by Disney Interactive and Avalanche Software. The game currently is unrated by the ESRB. For additional information, please visit www.disney.com/Infinity and youtube.com/disneyinfinity, join the Disney Infinity Facebook Community (Facebook.com/disneyinfinity) and follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/disneyinfinity).

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http://www.gamerpops.com

Co-founder and Managing Editor of GamerPops, Jeff Peeters is a husband and father of three precious and energetic boys who make every day an adventure. When it's daddy gaming time, he enjoys games in the inFAMOUS, Assassin's Creed, and Uncharted series. Follow him on Twitter @jpeeters.


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