- Nintendo Wii U / Rated E10+ / $74.99 / released August 2013
- OFFICIAL SITE: infinity.disney.com
- PURCHASE LINK: Amazon
- FINAL: You WANT this game. 4 out of 5 stars
“Disney Infinity,” a hybrid combination of virtual and physical toys, matches current hot properties with the company’s bottomless bucket of nostalgia and ends up with a video game that’s both fun to play and to collect.
It’s easy to be cynical. Video games with collectible toys are an expensive concept (see also: “Skylanders”), and plenty of the characters were obviously selected based on Disney’s 2013 feature film lineup (“Monsters University,” “The Lone Ranger”) and pre-established toy aisle favorites (“Cars,” “Toy Story”). But you can’t discount Disney’s ability to remind you why you loved these characters in the first place, before they became ongoing advertisements. “Disney Infinity” brings the charm; you bring the memories.
The basic “Disney Infinity” edition comes with three “playsets” and one character for each. Naturally, there’s additional playsets and extra toys available for purchase, but there is enough gameplay in the original edition to keep you happy for quite some time. The adventures for “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Incredibles,” and “Monsters University” each offer a self-contained storyline told across hours of play time. Although each playset includes unique elements, the overall structure focuses on open world exploration with plenty of unlockables. This is clearly the best video game most of these characters have ever been in.
Disney fanatics will love the deep, deep fan service that goes well beyond the playset-based characters. Toy Box mode lets you mix and match parts from all across the Disney empire: from “DuckTales” to “Mary Poppins” to ESPN. In Toy Box, you can build your own worlds and share them with other players, where a “Wreck-It Ralph” racetrack can circle around Epcot’s Spaceship Earth and Pride Rock from “The Lion King.” “Disney Infinity” does not ignore the importance of classic Disney music; many interactive objects trigger familiar background tunes.
The only downer to these unlockables is that many of them are handed out randomly via “spins.” Spins are earned by accomplishing various in-game tasks with the characters, so there’s a fair amount of grinding to be done in order to earn those precious spins.
Creating Toy Box levels can be tricky – you’re manipulating objects in 3-D space, after all – but the Wii U GamePad screen helps organize the intense collection of unlocked building materials. There’s some unfortunate slowdown during this process, as the game almost overreaches its technical grasp as you’re dropping in Matterhorns and full-size pirate ships. “Disney Infinity” also has weird menu structure issues, and it is incredibly disappointing that, while you can play in Toy Boxes online, you cannot do so with the playsets themselves.
Does the game keep trying to gently sell you on buying more toys? Absolutely, and given the extra expense involved, parents may chafe at falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. The good news is that the toys are well produced and the game is wildly fun to play, making it an experience worthy of the Disney brand name.
This review is based upon product supplied by the publisher. Disney Infinity is available for Wii U, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. Image courtesy Disney Interactive.