I remember very vividly the first conversation I had with my mom about Disney Infinity when the original wave showed up in our local Toys R Us and Walmarts a few years ago.
Mom: “I passed by these absolutely amazing Disney figurines but they were by the video games. What are they?”
Me: “They’re for a new video game called Disney Infinity. You put the statue on a base and the statue becomes a character in the game.”
Mom: “When they are cheaper I will buy them for you.”
Notice, gentle readers, that my sainted mother was not asking me a question. I was getting Disney Infinity whether I wanted it or not. And my mother kept her word when I got a phone call one day as I was working last October, asking me if the system I had was a Playstation or an Xbox. Next thing I know, she had gotten me the Disney Infinity 2.0 Toy Box starter pack that had been on clearance from Walmart. Then, over the next few months we would hunt around for more figures to unlock in the game and eventually she found the 3DS version of Disney Infinity 1.0, Toy Box Challenge. So since October I’ve gotten most of the 2.0 figures and over half the 1.0 figures as they’ve gone on clearance at all the local big box stores, and have been fiddling around with the play sets and other elements of the game.
So what are my thoughts about Disney’s answer to Skylanders? Especially as being such a self described Disney animation fanatic? Well, I have a lot of them. The base set came with two figures: Stitch and Merida from Brave, as well as two play disks themed on those two characters. The game took forever to install onto my system’s harddrive, and even then the game had some really laggy loading times. The Merida mini game requires having a sidekick/escort as you battle your way to retrieve cakes for the old witch, while the Stitch mini game focuses on a ‘protect the tower’ style missions. The puzzles and missions are very easy to figure out, a dial in the corner tells you how close you are to your objective, and the layouts of the levels make things pretty open and pretty repetitive. That being said, there is still quite a bit of difficulty to getting through the levels. Some of the monsters are very hard to destroy and can inflict nasty amounts of damage. This is where the game none-too-subtly encourages you to have more figures, because when one of your characters gets killed off, your options are either quit the mission or bring a new characters on your base. Funny thing is that a lot of characters you would think would be better fighters than others really weren’t. Merida is armed with a bow so she’s no melee fighter, whereas Stitch is great up close and far away because he uses a blaster and his powers as experiment 626. You’d think Elsa the Snow Queen would be a rock solid fighter with her ice attacks, but Anna and her grappling hook are much faster and stronger. Like I mentioned before, the levels are repetitive and there are only about five of them, but none of them are too long so it never gets too tedious.
The Marvel play sets are much, much better. The first one I got was The Avengers, and while clearly inspired by the first movie, I was pleasantly surprised that the plot was largely original, though Loki was still the main villain. You can tell the game is definitely geared towards kids than kids at heart. The first few tutorials are a little too hand hold-y, but a lot of the missions were actually pretty cool, though a couple were actually very, very difficult without a second player. In fact, in general I would say that Disney Infinity’s biggest flaw in general is it’s not much of a single player game. This game was clearly designed for either siblings to play, or a parent and kid, with groups of friends playing online. When you’re an anti-social hermit such as myself, things become much harder and there is less to do in the game in total. I love the Disneyfied versions of all the Marvel characters, and bless you Samuel L. Jackson for doing the voiceover work for Nick Fury again. Also, Tara Strong makes for a darling Wasp. Other flaw, a lot of the character models are NPCs and don’t have statues associated with them, so that means no Captain Marvel, Wasp or Lady Sif Disney statues. In fact, the only playable female character for the Avengers set is Black Widow, and just like the movie, Black Widow kicks all the ass. I probably relied on Black Widow for 90% of the missions and boss fights over Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye. If I wasn’t using Black Widow, I was using Iron Man. In short, Black Widow is love, Black Widow is life.
The Guardians of the Galaxy play set is a little bit harder because the controls are funky, and I’m stuck against a ship because I can’t seem to get the hang of throwing very well. For the most part the controls are pretty easy to remember and fairly smooth to build up combos, but if you forget you don’t have anything to refer to because the game doesn’t come with a manual. Spider-man is also pretty cool though I haven’t finished it yet. The play sets are definitely worth the content, even if the stories tend to be pretty short. The racing and other mini games are pretty fun, but I repeat, without an opponent or cooperative second, it’s less motivating to keep doing it since you’re beating the clock instead of a person.
Probably my least favorite part of the game was the sandbox part. The controls are kind of useless, and you almost never put the part you want in the place you want, and unless you intend to share your creations online, there isn’t much point to it. Disney Infinity Toy Box Challenge is more like a Disney themed version of Mario Party, but once again is more fun against an opponent.
That being said, the best part of the game is easily the figures, and it’s a small wonder that my mom intended to get them whether I even liked the game or not. They are all super well done with great, dynamic poses, a really charming style and beautiful paint jobs. And the best part is that the Marvel figures blend just as well as the classic characters. Unlike some of the more jarring stylistic changes in a multiuniverse spanning game like Kingdom Hearts (yup, Tron and Jack Sparrow didn’t stick out all, no-siree.) everything in Disney Infinity fits together. In fact it’s a little sad that the Disney/Pixar characters can’t actually be used in the Marvel sets, even after the story missions are over. The figures definitely focus more on modern Disney than classic Disney. With maybe the exception of Aladdin and Jack Skellington, all the Disney figures are focused on Disney movies from the last ten years, and more heavy on Pixar properties than classic Disney ones. The power disks dug deeper into their properties with even having representation from a lot of their lesser represented properties like Darkwing Duck. Be prepared to go slightly crazy trying to track the disks down, since they were sold in blind bags. Thankfully that’s something they fixed for Disney Infinity 3.0.
I know this review seems like I was ragging on the game quite a bit, and I can understand the criticism that people have for the line, but really, I do enjoy it. It’s a fun little time waster that acts as a nice holdover until the next Kingdom Hearts game comes out, and while short, the play sets are great little action games within themselves. The figures are gorgeous, their attacks are fun, and it is a goofy little thrill to bring the statues to life and fight with characters like Donald and Tinkerbell. I can understand why people would skip it, but I’m glad my kooky mom who likes animation as much as I do made the command decision she did when the original game first came out. I’m definitely going to invest in 3.0 when it comes closer to my magic price, and am sad that 4.0 isn’t going to be a thing.