Who would win in a fight: Buzz Lightyear or Woody? Buzz has a laser beam, and the ability to fall with style, but Woody has a sentient horse. And is voiced by Tom Hanks, who traditionally is not allowed to lose, ever.
Or Captain Jack Sparrow versus the Lone Ranger? The good captain has a mystical pirate ship and his trusty cutlass, but then again the Lone Ranger has a gun. Also a sentient horse.
Or what if in the most glorious of moments, enemies become frenemies, and they join up to take down the Queen of Hearts and her minion Jafar? In a space ship. In Candy Land…
These situations are not the fever dreams of a man-child overdosing on Disney-pills, but scenarios which are entirely possible in Disney Infinity. In this generous offering from the House of Mouse, (nearly) all the keys to the magic kingdom are put in your hands, to construct whatever your heart desires, so long as you keep to references from Disney’s multitude of franchises, and then jump into the world you have created as a Disney character. This means you can create an obstacle course to test your reactions against, a race track to compete with your mates on, or create a football game with goodies vs. baddies. And you can do so as Mr. Incredible!
The amount of content is absolutely staggering, and a major chunk of your play time will go into unlocking buildings and items to use in your own private sandbox. Developer Avalanche Studios has coyly placed much of the content behind a play wall, so you really have to get stuck in to unlock that bloody rug which would tie the room you’ve created together perfectly. Annoyingly what you unlock is often randomised, so you might be looking for that rug indefinitely, but using substitutes often creates the franchise-collage which the game is really all about.
If designing your own world isn’t your bag, or you don’t have the patience, or the lack of that rug is really ruining your vibe, there are worlds pre-built by professionals within which to immerse yourself, all following a theme. How you jump into these worlds, and which theme it follows is Disney’s biggest ace-in-the-hole/gimmick: Near Field Communication. NFC is a special blend of black magic which means that if you place your special Jack Skellington model on a special pad, he appears IN THE GAME. I cannot stress how powerful this experience is. ‘Oh whoops, I actually wanted to be Wreck-it-Ralph’ I might say, overcome by a fit of pique and the possibility of experimentation: I might take off Mr. Skellington and replace him with Ralph, whereupon the same thing happens IN THE GAME.
Kids have been having their minds blown in this way, and their expectations set unrealistically high for years with the Skylanders games, but imbuing a Disney character with this power really brings it into the spotlight. The fact that the physical figures, the vessels containing this mystical energy, are expertly made and painted only adds to the delight, as they are great toys in their own right. In the event of a power-cut, the apocalypse for many gamers, a kid could just pick up the figures and in his mind resume what he was playing on the Playstation.
Which is good because the biggest hurdle to overcome before wading waste deep into Infinity is the price. You can’t play without the special pad to put the figures on (to magic them into the game) and a character or two to place on said pad. Luckily the game ships with the pad and three figures, but will cost you around sixty clams for your trouble. However it turns out sale prices have slashed this bundle down to a very reasonable £40 so the barrier to entry is much lower. Buying extra figures will still cost £11 a pop, but each comes with a world promising around 8 hours of pre-created gameplay, an extra set of items and tools for use in your own worlds, and of course another figurine for your toy-box, so it’s a worthwhile investment.
Disney Infinity is not without its flaws; the gameplay is simple and slightly unrefined, and building your own world is tremendously difficult when you’re drunk, but these are all points most kids can gloss over. This author got into turbo-child mode with an onesie, Ricicles and a pint of hot Ribena before starting the game, but it wasn’t necessary. The nostalgia factor is enormous. And true to its name, Infinity is potentially infinite; there’s no reason Disney couldn’t keep releasing new characters & worlds, and you can share your custom creations via our friend the Internet. The thought of a parent taking the time to create a world for their kid to play in is a special one, and when Lego & Disney have a love-child so beautiful, you’d be a fool not to treat yours to something so special.
Disney Infinity is out now.