I'm definitely a big, big fan of the Disney Infinity video game. I don't know if you've played it, but here's the first trailer for the game – now over a year old – and then my explanation of its basic premise.
You collect little figurines of Disney characters, and each unlocks that character for gameplay. They're brilliantly designed and well manufactured figures.
The characters range from the cars of Cars to Captain Jack Sparrow, or from Mickey Mouse in his sorceror's apprentice mode to The Incredibles. The different characters have different move sets and abilities – in the case of the cars, very different from the legged types.
A good example of how the move sets vary would be the various members of the The Incredibles' Parr family: Mr. Incredible is tough and can hit hard; Mrs. Incredible is stretchy and can reach a long way; Dash can run very, very fast; and Violet can create a force field around herself and turn invisible. Just like in the movie. They even have Syndrome and his Zero Point gravity ray as another purchasable character.
The game comes bundled with three characters, and three varied playsets, but more are for sale as expansion packs. Each playset is themed to a Disney world, be that the campuses of Monsters University, the old west of The Lone Ranger or Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear-themed alien worlds. To play in any world, you need a figure that fits that world – there's always at least one bundled, more are available separately if you want multi-player modes or different abilities. You can't, however, take Elsa from Frozen down to Radiator Springs.
But there's also the Toy Box mode, a sort of mash-up of Little Big Planet and Minecraft that allows you to build varied levels of your own, from sporting arenas to platforming challenges to racetracks. Any character can play in Toy Box levels, and Disney release several as free DLC each week. Lately, they've mainly been user submitted. They're light fun, but nothing like as engrossing as the playsets.
Just a quick word of warning: the PS3, X-Box 360 and Wii-U versions are all fully featured, but the Wii version is not, and the 3DS game is a different, far lesser game altogether. If you don't have PS3, X-Box 360 or Wii-U, then sit this one out, I'd advise.
The game was released last August. By Christmas, however, all of the playsets had been released. Right now, I know that there are no more big, meaty level sets coming for Disney Infinity. A few more characters will come out but all they'll unlock, really, is their particular move-sets and weapons and more building blocks and mechanisms to use in the Toy Box mode.
I find myself starting to get a little impatient for the sequel. There's still trickle of attractive add ons coming – for example, they recently added The Electric Mayhem's tour bus as a vehicle you can use in-game.
We know the sequel is coming. About a year back, word went round that Disney were planning a new iteration of Infinity every year, bringing new characters and playsets. Each of these will also be backwards compatible with characters from earlier versions – so, if you get yourself a Wreck-It Ralph or Jack Skellington figure now, he'll also work with Infinity 2.
Immediately, fans started baying for Star Wars playsets and Marvel ones. These seemed inevitable pretty much right away and when they game turned out to be a smash, I was all but sure they'd come along sooner or later.
And so they are. According to The Wall Street Journal:
New versions of Infinity featuring characters from Disney's Marvel superhero unit and the Star Wars universe it acquired along with Lucasfilm in 2012 are being developed, one of these people said.
"These people" are supposedly the paper's sources close to the game's development team.
What we don't know is what exactly "new versions of Infinity" actually means. Does it mean single playsets themed to Marvel superheroes or Star Wars adventures? Very possibly. That could mean Disney Infinity 2 is a game with both Marvel and Star Wars in it, and likely both accessible "out of the box."
Or there could be whole separate Infinity sets for Star Wars and Marvel, each with multiple themed playsets and a large number of characters available. That's a real possibility too.
I expect the former at least a little bit more – not least because Disney will then be able to come back to these same wells to draw more with each subsequent Infinity and not just blow their big Star Wars and Marvel brands up front.
There's a certain sort of genius in making a game that has plenty of Star Wars levels, plenty of Marvel levels and then plenty of other Disney and Pixar related things all in it, all at once. Especially as you could then be able to have, for example, Iron Man vs. Darth Vader vs. Buzz Lightyear battles in the Toy Box.
My biggest hope is that there are more playsets to enjoy with the next version of Infinity. I enjoyed all six with version one – Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, The Lone Ranger, Cars and Toy Story – but I'm now left with months of nothing to tempt me back but Toy Boxes.
To slice it another way, though, I got a few months of regular, high-dosage fun out of the game and maybe I should just have paced myself…
Oh, and just for fun, here's a whole list of things they could base play sets around:
Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Tron, Captain America and his SHIELD buddies or maybe just The Avengers, Woody's Round Up, The Jungle Book, Wall-E, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Planes, Wreck-It Ralph.
And I could go on. And on. And on. The point being that the potential for Infinity to expand and surprise is exciting. If they can keep the gameplay at least as strong as the first version while upping the amount of playset content, then I think Disney will be onto a massive, massive smash, bigger even than with the first game, and just hurtling through any sort of age boundaries.