This week Disney Interactive officially announced Disney Infinity, its brand new gaming IP. Although very little has been shown of it so far, it already looks set to be a potential Skylanders killer.
The press event was a little confusing, however, meaning there are a lot of mixed messages flying around today and a lot of false information. With that in mind we've decided to break down what's been revealed so far so you can better understand exactly what Disney Infinity offers.
In June 2010 Disney Interactive released Toy Story 3: The Video Game, developed by Avalanche Software. Toy Story 3 was a rare movie tie-in in that it was actually entertaining, mainly thanks to its unique Toy Box mode.
Described by many at the time as Disney meets GTA, the Toy Box lets you play as Woody, Buzz or Jessie as they run around a series of sandbox areas based on Toy Story locations, accepting missions from other characters and unlocking different toys, gizmos and customisation options. While the main adventure in the game can be finished in five hours or so, Toy Box easily has 20 or 30 hours of gameplay in it. It's superb.
Due to the success of the Toy Story 3 game, Avalanche was asked to start work on a second video game focused on Buzz Lightyear. As development progressed the Toy Box mode evolved and eventually Disney Infinity was born.
The general idea
Disney Infinity is a much larger, more varied version of the Toy Box mode in Toy Story 3, one that spans numerous Disney licenses and has the potential for expansion in the future.
Borrowing an idea from Skylanders, it comes with a special peripheral (dubbed the Infinity Base) that players can place Disney characters, stages and items onto.
The game is split into two major sections - Play Sets and the Toy Box mode. Play Sets are essentially the game's story mode, while Toy Box is a more open world environment where you can spawn characters, items and buildings whenever and however you like.
The Play Sets
Play Sets are virtual environments based on a specific Disney licenses. Different ones are unlocked when users place certain Disney toys on the Infinity Base. For example, if you place the Monsters University Play Set piece on it, the game will unlock the Monsters University stage and a story mode.
Each Play Set is strictly locked to the toys associated with it, so if you choose to play through the story mode in the Pirates Of The Caribbean Play Set, you can only use the likes of Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbosa while playing through it - you can't bring in Mr Incredible to help you out.
What isn't yet clear is whether multiple toys from the same licence (for example, Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars) will have to play through the same missions, or if they'll each unlock their own unique mission set.
The Toy Box
This is where the "Infinity" aspect of the game comes into play and is the true heart of the game. At the press event last night Disney's John Lasseter compared it to his childhood days when he, much like every other child, would mix and match his toys when he played with them. "I wouldn't just exclusively play with GI Joes," he explained. "Lego came into it, and Hot Wheels and all this stuff".
As you play through each character's individual Play Set and clear the various missions in them, you unlock characters, gadgets, items and customisation options. The Monsters University one, for example, lets you unlock a bunch of stuff related to that film including a bicycle and toilet paper gun.
The interesting thing is that these are not only unlocked for that specific Play Set, they're also made available for use in Toy Box mode. Unlike the licence-specific story modes featured in the Play Sets, here players can mix and match everything in a huge open world environment. Woody can have a scrap with Jack Skellington, Sully can race Wreck-It Ralph, Lightning McQueen can run over Phineas Flynn.
"It's just like Andy [in Toy Story]," Lasseter explained at this week's press event. "In Andy's room there's a toy box, and it's full of toys from all different things and they come together and he plays with them all in a very creative way".
As well as the ability to freely roam around and choose from potentially hundreds of toys that can be unlocked, Toy Box mode also has "adventures", which are essentially missions that initially teach you how to make use of the various mechanics - combat, construction, racing, etc - and then master them. If Toy Story 3's Toy Box is anything to go by, there will be many of these.