REVIEW: Disney's Infinity 

click to enlarge An older version of Infinity - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • An older version of Infinity
  • Wikimedia Commons

By now, Disney pretty much owns everyone’s childhoods.

In the last few years the house of mouse has absorbed huge swathes of nostalgic popular culture, and now they own everything from Marvel, to the Muppets, to freaking Star Wars.

All of our culture’s collective happy memories and beloved characters are now under the control of our mouse-eared overlords, as they take their place atop a shadowy tower to completely dominate entertainment media for the next few decades.

This domination has taken video game form in Disney Infinity, a game franchise that employs the use of toy peripherals.

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Toys — in the likeness of Disney owned characters — plug into a game stand, which unlocks them as a player avatar, to then be used in a variety of game modes ranging from short story campaigns to cart racing to a free form creation tool.

Each new iteration of Infinity has added new features and franchises to play around with. 1.0 included Disney and Pixar movies, 2.0 added Marvel superheroes, and 3.0 tacks on the big behemoth itself, Star Wars, along with characters from the recent animated hit, Inside Out.

Brace your wallets, mom and dad.

Among the many different game types, Infinity has two major draws: its playset campaigns and the toy box.

The campaigns take place in the worlds of certain franchises, like The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean etc, with a short story and a focus on combat. In version 1.0 and 2.0, these were easily the wekeast part of the experience, with poor use of the fantastic license at the games disposal, and clunky, less than fun combat mechanics.

Thankfully, 3.0 gave this part of the game a serious overhaul. Jedi combat, combining lightsaber action and “Force” powers, has a much more definitive weight to it, and the story has the feel of a fun Saturday morning cartoon.

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The base game comes with the Twilight of the Republic story segment, which follows heroes like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano in the end days of the films’ prequel era, with the voice cast from the sublime Clone Wars cartoon series reprising their roles.

Some older fans may be put off by the fact that the original trilogy characters and campaign will be related at a later date, but they should still find this bit enjoyable — even if they found the prequel trilogy detestable.
(An aside: everyone should go watch the Clone Wars cartoon. It’s fantastic)

The meat of the experience, however, is the toy box, where the player is set loose in a world where they can create their own levels and playgrounds out of the pieces of their favorite movies, and mix and match the characters and power sets.

This allows for enormous amounts of creativity, and a whole lot of fun, though it is a pity that not every character and power set is compatible with every game world.

I want to rescue Rapunzel as an orange lightsaber swinging alien, but alas, the game can’t provide for everything.

The gameplay, across all fronts outside of the creativity tool, isn’t the deepest or most challenging out there. Seasoned gamers won’t find the technical depth of, say, the Souls games, but it does provide a satisfying experience with bright colors that should entertain parents and enthrall younger kids.

Infinity’s biggest problem continues to be its interface. Despite being aimed at young children, it has some of the most overly complicated menus I’ve ever seen. There are over a dozen different menu systems to navigate depending on which section of the game you’re in, and it can become incredibly confusing, even off-putting. Each of the game modes is fun, but kids will probably need the help of their parents in order to access the bit they want.

Disney Infinity is a great game for kids, but again I should caution that parents that it can be a hefty financial investment.

As a kid who grew up in the '90’s and early 2000s, I understand the “gotta have em all” collector mentality that these kinds of toys can instill in children. My Yugioh and Pokemon card collections can attest to that, as can my current collection of Amiibo, spurred on by my nerdy desire to have figures of my favorite characters to display on my shelves.

Here’s a few things to remember, mom and dad:

Most characters are sold separately for about $13 though you can definitely find a few on the cheap side used. Make sure to check the second hand rack at the game store. There’s a lot for kids to choose from, but for the sake of your wallet, it’s probably best to know which characters in particular they like.

Clear figures, usually sold in special packs alongside two figures, contain different game worlds, such as the Marvel movie Universe or the Toy Story series. These open up new play areas.

New 3.0 figures are NOT compatible with older versions of the game disc, but older figures are compatible with the new one.

Overall, it’s a fantastic digital toy box, one that makes me somewhat glad to be living under Emperor Mickey, if for no other reason than he keeps pumping his enormous pile of money into things I love. 

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