My girlfriend got me “Disney Infinity 3.0” for Christmas — specifically, the “Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic” starter pack for my Microsoft Xbox One console.
I fell in love with the game instantly. But today, Disney cancelled “Disney Infinity,” even as it gets out of the video game publishing business entirely.
I am beyond heartbroken.
The way “Disney Infinity” works is both simple and amazing. Indeed, Disney once believed that“Disney Infinity” would be a billion-dollar business before too long.
You buy a plastic action figure for $14 and place it on the USB-connected “Infinity Base” that comes with the game’s starter sets. Then you get to use that character in the game. Place Darth Vader on the base, and Darth Vader shall appear.
It turned me into a total monster: I couldn’t get enough of it, and I wanted to buy every new Infinity I could get my hands on. My collection rapidly expanded past a few “Star Wars” characters, and into Marvel Super Heroes and “Zootopia.” It got messy.
But now it’s gone. And I’m inconsolable. Here’s why I loved Disney Infinity so darn much, and why I’m sad to see it go.
This is my modest collection of Disney Infinity figures -- 'modest,' because there's somewhere around a hundred, total, from across the Disney, Pixar, Marvel Super Heroes, and 'Star Wars' universes. I've mostly been collecting 'Star Wars.'
Each one costs about $14. But since I'm a smart shopper, I got most of mine for much cheaper. I've still absolutely spent too much, though.
And, boom, there's Han Solo in the game. All of the characters are rendered in a cartoon-y style, so Han Solo doesn't look out of place while standing around Halloweentown, of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' fame.
The thing that makes it so addictive is that most of the characters bring something a little different to the game. Anakin Skywalker, of the prequel trilogy, is a fast and powerful lightsaber swordsman...
...but his older incarnation, Darth Vader, is a lumbering presence who's more about strength than speed, and throws his lightsaber as a ranged attack.
Other characters, like 'The Force Awakens' hero Rey, bolster their close-range skills with sharpshooting abilities. It keeps it fresh.
Maybe unsurprisingly, Luke Skywalker is the most versatile of all the 'Star Wars' characters, with Force abilities, a blaster, AND a lightsaber. It hardly feels fair to the other characters.
Each character has skills and weapons that stay consistent, no matter which game mode you're playing.
As for the game itself: One of the best things about 'Disney Infinity' is how it draws on Disney history. Here's Star-Lord from 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in front of Flynn's arcade of 'Tron' fame, while Cindarella's castle looms in the background.
The centrepiece of the 'Disney Infinity' series is the 'Toy Box' mode, a 'Minecraft'-like mode where you get a blank slate to do whatever you want. Racing games? Theme parks? Painstaking recreations of Disney theme parks? It's all in there.
It gives you control over your own little digital kingdom, by using an extremely Disney magic wand that lets you change the sky, land, and everything in between to your liking, and share it online.
There's a definite learning curve to making really cool things in Toy Box, but it's worth it. Here I am running over a 'Star Wars' Battle Droid in the log from the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain.
For instance, here I am as Darth Vader falling off the roller coaster in a random amusement park. It's really fun to explore and see what people came up with -- there are lots of hidden gems, from racers to brawlers.
This is from a work-in-progress 'Disney Infinity' adventure I'm building for my girlfriend, where the Galactic Empire attacks the Haunted Mansion on the ice planet Hoth. It's very avant-garde and postmodern.
There's also a mode called 'INterior,' where you can customise everything about a little house and populate it with Disney characters. There's a lot to do.
But this is where Disney gets you, too: It sells packs of 4 'Power Discs' for about $14 a pop, all of which give characters additional powers, or more vehicles, or more ways to customise the Toy Box. I've managed to hold out from buying Power Discs so far, but it's a real struggle.
For a more traditional, and very fun, gaming experience, 'Disney Infinity' sells playsets that include two characters and a clear plastic piece for the Infinity Base, for around $30. See the tiny Death Star on the base? That unlocks the 'Rise Against The Empire' adventure, based on the original 'Star Wars' trilogy.
...and, like everything else in 'Disney Infinity,' they can be played with two players working cooperatively, which is definitely my suggested way to fly.
(SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen The Force Awakens)What's nice about the 'Star Wars' playsets is that they're mostly faithful to the movies, but play it fast and loose in some ways to make it more kid-friendly. For instance, 'The Force Awakens' playset kind of glosses over Han's death.
Plus, you can unlock the ability to play as characters from different eras in the different playsets. Here's Finn in the Mos Eisley Cantina, of 'A New Hope' fame.
It may not be as epic as the big-budget shooter 'Star Wars: Battlefront,' but for my money, 'Disney Infinity' is a lot more fun.
In March, Disney released a new playset called 'Marvel Battlegrounds,' timed with the release of the new 'Captain America: Civil War' movie. The very last 'Disney Infinity' playset will be 'Finding Dory,' based on the forthcoming Pixar movie. The corporate synergy was strong.
But, you may ask, if this is Disney Infinity 3.0, what about 1.0 and 2.0? Well, here's the short answer: You can use the figures from 1.0 and 2.0 in 3.0, but not vice-versa. And you can't play 1.0 or 2.0 playset adventures in Disney Infinity 3.0. Queen Elsa, pictured here, is a 1.0 figure.
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