Disney Infinity is both game and platform, mixes Skylanders and LittleBigPlanet to foster creativity

Disney Infinity is both game and platform, mixes Skylanders and LittleBigPlanet to foster creativity

Disney Infinity was announced today during a press conference headed by John Pleasants, co-President of Disney Interactive. Disney Infinity is not a single game, Pleasants said, but a global platform that will be available June 2013 on home console, online, and via mobile devices.

Play sets and power discs

Disney Infinity‘s goal is to bring together the best of Disney’s IP in fun and interesting ways. “Who would win a race between Lightning McQueen and Dash?” Pleasants asked. “Who’s stronger: Mr. Incredible or Mike Wazowski? Who would win a swordfight between Captain Jack Sparrow and Phineas Flynn?”

Pleasants also showed off some of the game’s figures which, when placed onto the Infinity Base, will cause Disney Infinity to spawn the associated character in-game. So for example, if you were to place a figure of Sully from Monsters Inc. onto the base, you would control Sully in-game.

Jack Sparrow, Sully, and Mr. Incredible will lead the charge in the Disney Infinity starter box when the game launches in June, but Pleasants said more universes and characters will be available at launch. There are also power discs, which are smaller and will unlock unique abilities, items and customization features.

The game itself is broken into several different modes. The figures unlock what were referred to as play sets; these are true-to-property worlds and stories, each with their own unique game play. The world of Monsters University is based around two monster schools pranking and scaring one another, so it features gag weapons like a toilet paper gun and stealth game play.

The Incredibles play set, however, features the cast performing heroic feats and is much more heavy on combat. The idea is that each play set will be unique and a bite-sized game unto itself.

Play sets can only be accessed by the proper characters. You can’t bring Sully into the world of Pirate of the Caribbean. You can, however, unlock the aforementioned toilet paper gun, and bring that with you into the game’s other main mode, which was referred to during the press conference as the “toy box.”

Toy stories

John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney and Pixar, said this mode originally grew out of an idea from the Toy Story 3 video game. During design meetings, it was proposed that half of Toy Story 3 would be a typical game, with the usual progression and game play, but the other half would be akin to Andy playing with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the cast. Players would be able to go in and do as they pleased. That mode made its way to the final product for Toy Story 3, but Disney Infinity takes the concept and expands it into something much, much larger.

“It’s just like Andy; in Andy’s room there’s a bunch of toys,” Lasseter said. In Disney Infinity, you’re not controlling real characters, you’re controlling toys. Just as Skylanders has an in-lore reason for there being toys in the real world, Disney Infinity justifies the stylized look of its characters and the ability to mix and match from IPs by saying they’re not the real characters, they’re toy representations. “Style brings them together, yet you can celebrate the individuality,” Lasseter said.

If Disney Infinity‘s play sets seem inspired by Skylanders, then the toy box mode would best be compared to LittleBigPlanet 2. You’ll be able to choose from various models, skins, gadgets, and tools to make the toy box act as you see fit.

In a video demonstration, John Blackburn, Vice President and General Manager of Avalanche Software, development studio behind Disney Infinity, showed how one player might build a castle, while another might build a race track. One person had even gone so far as to recreate the Bowser’s Castle track from Mario Kart.

“The toy box is where we feel like we took that mode we had in Toy Story 3 and blew it out to as big of an experience as we wanted to,” Blackburn said. Blackburn also revealed that there would be “hundreds” of collectable toys and landscaping pieces to bring into the toy box. You’ll be able to take your creations and upload these to Disney, who will moderate and share with the Disney Infinity community. Blackburn said they also plan to host events and contests, such as ‘Who can build the coolest castle?’

All of this, Lasseter said, comes back to the idea of creativity. “I always say true play is creativity, and creativity is play,” he said. “Creativity is the foundation of making a better world.”

Disney Infinity will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and PC. There was also a “mobile experience” teased, but no further details have been given regarding what smart device users will be in for. Disney Infinity will support 40 play set pieces which can expand and customize the game, 17 character figures, and 20 power discs.

Toy box mode will support four-player network play, while play sets will support two players. The starter pack with Jack Sparrow, Sully, and Mr. Incredible will cost $74.99, and play sets will be $34.99. Three-figure booster packs will be $29.99, individual figures will be $12.99 and power disc packs will be $4.99.