As one of the largest media companies in the world, and in particular building up an extensive historical presence in children’s TV and cinema, Disney have plenty of content from which to create a licenced video game, and appear to be packing as much of it as possible into an open-ended new release this year in association with Avalanche Studios.
Announced this week as Disney Infinity, the ‘new gaming initiative’ (that will have releases on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, with future plans for mobile platforms) is said to have similarities to Spyro the Dragon spin-off title Skylanders (enabling collectible figures to be implemented in-game) and customisable platformer Little Big Planet.
For its extensive (and likely expandable) character line-up, Disney Interactive are pulling from their range of more direct rights for the time-being (seemingly omitting any chance to have Muppet, Marvel Comic, or Star Wars characters at launch), with some released as physical figures with the game (based on a number of Disney and Pixar franchises) with the ability to interact with eachother in-game, but enables players to enact any Toy Story/Pirates of the Caribbean cross-over fantasies they may have had.
The game, penciled in for a June 2013 release date, includes two main modes - Playsets (a more story-driven game that takes in ‘worlds’ from each main Disney universe (based on The Incredibles, Monsters University, and Pirates of the Caribbean, amongst others) with unique gameplay styles), and the sandbox-style ‘Toy Box’ mode (enabling open-world gameplay and creativity whilst mixing franchises, items such as gadgets, and ‘worlds’, said to enable a scenario such as Captain Jack Sparrow wearing Buzz Lightyear’s jetpack).
The ‘starter pack’ of Disney Infinity will see the main title launched alongside three ‘figures and playsets’, allowing players to own a Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean (the 5th installment of which was recently confirmed for a 10 June 2015 release date)), Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles), and Sulley (Monsters Inc.), while future characters and franchises are expected to be revealed in the build-up to include over 20 purchasable figurines on launch day. These figures are then placed on a dedicated mat to allow portable imports into friend’s games, amongst other features.
Avalanche’s vice-president John Blackburn noted of the game’s main premise: “Disney Infinity combines prominent Disney and Pixar characters and scenarios in a way that mimics how kids play in real life. With our platform’s unique gameplay mechanics and innovative approach to user generated content within the ‘Toy Box’ mode, Disney Infinity will spark imaginations and provide endless hours of fun and creativity.”
Set to also feature franchises such as Cars, Wreck-It Ralph, and Nightmare Before Christmas, the game also seems set to include a token TV show at launch, with animated comedy Phineas & Ferb recieving the unusual 3D treatment. While the guest characters implemented from that show will face stiff competition from more adult game South Park: The Stick of Truth that is due for release only a little earlier, will Disney’s marketing power and broad appeal put them into contention for becoming the biggest licenced content game of the year? An early look at Disney Infinity can be seen through the trailer below: