Disney Infinity Is Amazing

Disney Infinity PortalHere I am again, despite my best efforts, caught up in some new toy / video game combo. I’m quite happy to say, however, that there is indeed something special about this one. While Disney Infinity may seem like a Skylanders rip-off from the outside it is anything but  that. Really the only similarities you can draw between the two would be the use of physical figures placed on a portal. I’m not going to declare that it’s better or worse than Skylanders because I still really love those. It’s just different.

Anyway, Keen and I have spent several hours with the game and I would love to share some of my thoughts.

The Starter Pack and the start of something magical.

The majority of Keen’s and my experience with Disney Infinity has been with the basic starter pack. With it you are able to play the game’s remarkably well done toybox mode along with 3 play set adventures: Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters U, and Incredibles.

We first started the game up, and as soon as the flashy intro/tutorial started we were immediately thrown back to being little kids. We both really love almost all things Disney so everything they presented was right up our alley. As various Disney properties sprung up and familiar characters graced the screen we were shouting, clapping, and squealing with delight like a couple of idiots. As soon as the tutorial ended we were dropped into one of the game’s toybox worlds featuring sprawling fantasy terrain and a rather lovely Disney castle. I placed a Davy Jones, Pirate (not Monkee), figure on the portal and Keen opted for Barbossa. Our characters came to life in game and we spent several minutes just running around, smacking each other, and just generally exploring. The toybox offers some pretty robust play options but we opted first to try out the Pirates of the Caribbean play set.

Disney Infinity Jack SparrowBring me that horizon!

I knew that I was going to have fun with this game but I don’t think either of us ever expected how awesome the Pirates play set would be. The adventure starts you out in a small boat rowing into a city under siege. We docked and ran through the streets meeting up with familiar series characters and completed various quests of the main and side variety. The Pirates characters are able to perform a double jump, melee combo, pick people up, and shoot a pistol. As the game goes on you can unlock additional abilities like bombs as evidenced by a secret side path we weren’t able to access.

We were having a great time up until we got access to our very own pirate ship. That’s when Keen promptly lost his shit. Seriously, he was freaking out with excitement. Once you get your ship you can customize the outside of it with various parts that you find hidden around the game world. You can also get other upgrades for your weapons. We were able to swap out our cannons for the long-range variety. We set sail with Keen at the helm, and I climbed to to top of the rigging to better help navigate. When the need arose I would jump onto one of our deck cannons to help clear debris or assist in taking down enemy ships. We left the port inlet and found ourselves out in a vast ocean. Waves rolled across the horizon and our vessel sailed up and down each swell. We sailed around for a bit, ignoring the obvious quest arrow and instead opting to look for cool stuff. We docked on one particular island which looked to hold potentially valuable treasure but we were thwarted by a special bomb lock again.

On our way to the quest objective we encountered enemy ships and Keen went into crazy mode again. “Man the cannons, Mr. Graev!” he cried, though he didn’t call me Graev ’cause that would be weird, “Give them a taste of our broadside!” (He was quite literally screaming.) Eventually we made it to our destination and disembarked. We decided at that point to take a break after already over-stimulating Keen enough for one day.

So you want to be a hero?

Our next jaunt was into the world of the Incredibles. I opted to play as the villain Syndrome, which is somewhat confusing as he is also the play set bad guy, while Keen went with Mr. Incredible. This play set, while maybe not quite as exciting as the the Pirates adventure, is also very well done. The game is set up like a typical open-world super hero game. You run around fighting bad guys in the city, take on missions, save people, etc. Eventually you get to a point where you gain access to your secret base. There you can purchase buildings like a training center which gives you some new abilities, and a jail which holds your super villains. There are also two more spaces but we haven’t quite unlocked them yet. Additionally you can obtain new unlockables that also make their way into your toy box. We were able to get Mr. Incredible’s car and a rather snazzy glider pack that I’ve been using to glide around everywhere. I’m hoping to unlock the Incredi-copter soon.

Scattered around the game world, including Pirates and Monsters U, are various capsules that have special unlocks in them. These can be anything from vehicles or npc characters/costumes. I believe they all get added to the toy box as well, giving you further incentive to track down all the trinkets. We spent quite a while just exploring the city, climbing buildings, and finding stuff. There are also various special challenge missions scattered around, sometimes character specific, which are fun to do.

disney infinity toyboxToy Box AKA Sandbox

This is probably among the most appealing aspects of the game. In the toy box you are given the ability to create your own little worlds block by block. You start out with some basic pieces and in order to unlock more you have to acquire spins for the Disney Infinity vault. This can be done by leveling up a character, completing special tasks, etc. Lot’s a different ways to go about it. The vault contains a whole lot of cool stuff. Various little Disney side NPCS, buildings, special gizmos, you name it. Probably the most important stuff is all the cool gadgets that you can utilize to essentially make your own games. There are spawners, switches, side-camera activators that make the game mimic a side-scroller, launchers, boosters, timers, repeaters, you name it. People are going to create some crazy awesome stuff in here.

I’ve spent my time so far crafting a nifty little world for myself. Right now I’m working on some underground caverns and I’m toying with the idea of adding in a grind-rail system. Eventually I plan to construct a giant fortress citadel complete with lava moat and various Disney henchmen Rhino-guards from Robin Hood patrolling about. What’s really neat is how you can invite people to come join your toy box online so eventually I’ll have to show it to somebody. Or just post it up to the community website whenever that gets setup.

It can’t all be good, right?

I do have a few gripes with the game but nothing too major. The first is that I REALLY wish this game had some more classic properties like Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Mickey Mouse, etc. Essentially the stuff I grew up with.  Obviously the target audience for this game isn’t my generation and is targeted more at the kids who grew up with Pixar films but still… I hope they add in some classic stuff. I’m already quite ready to throw my money at them when the Sorcerer Mickey figure comes out later this year.

You are able to play in the toybox cooperatively but in order to play in the play set adventures you must have two figures from that universe. While the starter pack does come with 3 characters  they are each from unique properties. I guess I can understand why they didn’t want, say, Lightning McQueen cruising down the wharf in Pirates but it essentially forces you to buy additional figures if you want to play co-op.

When playing in co-op you have to be really careful when fighting next to your ally. You seem to lock onto people really easily and you could end up beating the crap out of your partner. I’ve sent Keen flying way more times than I actually meant to.

This may be platform-specific but on Wii U you can’t play splitscreen co-op with one person on the gamepad and the other using the TV. This kind of seems like a big oversight since you can otherwise use the gamepad for off-tv play to great effect.

As far as technical things go, there’s a little bit of slow-down in the co-op but nothing too major. My main complaint would have to been some freezing issues that I’m getting but that might be just me since my Wii U has been freezing a lot lately.

How much is this going to cost me?!

Most people are going to assume this is a cash grab and I’d have to agree, to an extent. It can get very expensive fast.

  • The base game is going to run you about $75.
  •  Individual figures are $14 while a 3-pack is $30.
  • Play Set packs are $35 bucks and contain a new adventure and two figures.
  • Optional Power discs come in a 2-pack at random for about $5 bucks.

It seems pretty bad at first look but there are several things you should take into consideration. Firstly, looking for deals is pretty important. You can easily find the starter pack for $60 and character 3-packs along with play sets are half price at various places. It makes purchasing a lot more palatable. Something to strongly consider is just sticking with the starter pack. It provides a whole lot of content and later on down the road you can consider adding to your collection.

My main problem with their business model has to do with the Power discs. They provide anything from power-ups, to cosmetic toybox changes, to weapons/vehicles. They may be completely optional and not needed to enjoy the game but if you really wanted to collect them all you are stuck buying random packs. Not only that but several of the discs in each collection are “rare” and I assume that means there are less of them. I wouldn’t say there is anything inherently wrong with this kind of collectable trading type of thing but when you combine it with a model where you also sell somewhat expensive figures and add-ons you really begin to toe the line between reasonable and excessive.

Is it worth it?

Yes, it really is. Even if you only get the starter pack, which I believe has all the stuff I’ve been talking about and more. Not only do you get the awesome toy box mode but essentially 3 additional side adventures that are supposedly 6-8 hours a piece depending on how much you want to collect. It’s a really good deal and down the line if you want more you can always invest in a new play-set pack.

I’m very excited to see where Disney Infinity is going, and I’m going to do my best to keep up with it. In my wildest dreams I imagine Avengers play sets and Star Wars figures but who knows where things are going to go. I just hope my wallet can take it.

  • Hmmmmm. I was wishing this game wasn’t good, hahahah.

    I’ll have to see if this will be a great birthday present for my boys!

    thanks for the write up.

  • I’ve always been a fan of Disney games, right from back when I used to play them on my GameBoy Colour!
    When I saw a news article about this coming out, I literally couldn’t hold my excitement. I mean most of the Disney characters all in one game?! You just can’t beat it.
    Now I’m not entirely sure what the plot or story is in this game, but if I know a Disney game then it’s bound to be entertaining, lengthy and most importantly well worth the money.
    The only downside to this game is that you only get a few playable characters to choose from right out of the box.
    The rest you have to apparently ‘collect’ and from what I have seen.. they are not exactly cheap.
    Anyway, I shall be ordering this game. Purely as I’m an avid Disney fan haha.

  • My son had been eagerly awaiting this one (9yo with a pre-order layby, he could always tell me how many days until it was released).
    He has been playing this with his younger sister in toybox mode mainly, even though the pre-order came with an extra figure (Mike Wasowski(sp?)) think they are both enjoying the creative side of the game.

    I have no issue with the pricing of the figures as they are exactly the same as the Skylanders stuff and the boy seems to have moved on from that game telling me that Giants wasn’t very good (or not enough to it). I guess the added cost of the power discs and the randomness may be a problem but I hope that will be alleviated by trading them at school.

  • @John Igrice: Not all 5 year-olds are alike — I think 5 might be the absolute youngest I would go.

    Is your son comfortable with other forms of video games that require you to complete objectives? Disney Infinity, although a very open game about running around in a visualized world of DIsney characters, requires a minor level of problem solving combined with the ability to listen to the narrator and/or figure out what to do.

    Are you okay with a mild level of violence? Monsters Inc characters scare each other in a playful way, but in Pirates of the Caribbean you can shoot other pirates. Granted, when they get shot then explode into glowing orbs and coins instead of blood.

    Does he have the attention span? Graev and I are in our late 20’s and we’ve already put in 13+ hours with another 13+ to go. That justifies the high price for the figures and the playsets for us, but someone who may only play for 5 hours may find this a high priced adventure.