Disney Infinity – Money Grabbing but Metaversal

Disney Infinity arrived on the scene recently. It is Disney’s response to the clever development of Skylanders. Where physical toys are used to select what happens on screen. If you thought Skylanders may have had a slightly cynical collect ’em all, spend ’em up side to it then Disney have ramped that up to a new level.
Skylanders you typically get a set of characters that you can experience the main game with, without buying new characters. Getting a new character for £8 or so gets you some new powers, effectively new lives for a game session and possibly access to a bonus level.
Disney have chosen a more complicated (and expensive route it seems). The starter set gets you 3 characters. Each effectively from a different set of game levels. So you get Cap’n Jack Sparrow, Mr Incredible and Sully from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles and Monsters University/Inc.
You get a “level” select piece (they call them play set pieces) that when placed on the USB powered platform selects the available levels. This happens to be multiple one for the 3 games but others are individual tokens.
There is also another token type that unlocks a little bit of content. These are the sort of pocket money prices elements, like buying a lego minifig. Ours unlocked a background from Wreck It Ralph.
It is the collection on the right of the picture. A “starter” set.
Disney infinity
So we plugged it is sparked it up and I wanted to play with the predlets. After all the games are multiplayer and there is space for two characters. The problem is that as you enter the Pirates of the Caribbean world you are only allowed to take a pirates character with you. So the base starter set does not let you play the actual game levels as multiplayer. So you have bought 3 single player games.
What you need to do is shell out another £25 on top of the £50 already spent to by the “sidekicks” a character from each series. (On the left in the photo above).
Other playsets feature 2 characters from the same experience, Cars, Lone Ranger etc. So then you are buying a multiplayer game.
You can buy individual characters for each game type, and there are sets to collect, and buy extra characters for the same games. You are enticed to do this in game as it points out you don’t have a character by showing a video.
Not allowing Sully to wander around The Pirates levels or have Cap’n Jack in the big city with the incredibles sounds like an attempt at not having some sort of brand pollution. Or some odd technical reason. However that makes no sense when you get to the more interesting part of Infinity which is the toybox.
This is a freeform multiplayer environment where any character and anything from anywhere can be added and created.
It is a metaverse, a shared world with all the user creation tools we expect in virtual worlds. It is a great leap forward too bringing a degree of quality to the experience of building we don’t often see.
I had a flashback to my first Second Life island when it was just flat land and the possibilities were endless about what could be done there and how it would evolve (and change the path of my life as it turned out). Big stuff!
Deja vu flat piece of land and an avatar # inifinity
Cap’n Jack just stood in a field.
Then a quick menu selection and a little bit of racetrack (in the background) and a physical active beach ball with live shadows and all the trimmings was in world with me.
Deja vu flat piece of land and an avatar # inifinity
Then we found that any character could join so Sully was soon in world and before you knew it we had some funny little games going. Predlet 1.0 made an obstacle course, 2.0 made a floating race track. We found ourselves setting little challenges with the basic things we had.
The trouble with this is that there are thousands of pieces to play with, but…. they are all locked away. As you “play” or explore you complete challenges and achievements. Those unlock stars, as does levelling up or playing the main stories. Those stars let you get a random spin in a selection of the devices and objects available. It is painfully slow grind to unlock things. Not being able to pick and it being a random selection gets very annoying. We wanted more vehicles, we got a buggy eventually but lots of things we didn’t want first.
For a creation tool it is missing the ability to just get on with it. For experienced virtual world builder like the predlets, used to Minecraft creative mode it is a ridiculous application of grind. Worthy of Nintendo’s grind tests.
I hope they patch this and let us just select anything from the palette. Mind you they will probably make us buy some more physical product. That after all is what the extra collectible power disc (the one that unlocked a wreck it Ralph backdrop) does. However these are sold in closed packaging so you don’t know what you are getting to end up with “rare” items and swaps for the playground. Something I have never really liked in kids toys.
So Disney have made something really clever, interesting and wonderful and then locked it behind a big paywall or a giant in game fruit machine. All things that can be rectified to make this brilliant!
I should say too that The figures look like they are good quality but Jack Sparrow must have had too much Rum as he broke off his stand. Not sure how much force cause that to happen but characters on stands with just two small bits of plastic feet might make these not as playable with for kids as Skylanders.
Disney infinity
Brand pollution isn’t so bad it it? (Just updated with this vine 🙂 )

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