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Disney Interactive introduces new gaming platform, Disney Infinity, at the El Capitan Theatre

Disney Interactive introduces new gaming platform, Disney Infinity, at the El Capitan Theatre

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My daughter and I attended the launch of Disney Infinity, Disney Interactive's new platform at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood back in January. In a kind gesture to the Disney fan community, members of D23, the official Disney fan club, were invited to attend and watch the proceedings from the balcony. Where they then received a shout-out from the stage from John Lasseter.

John Lasseter at Tuesday's Disney Infinity preview event.
Photo by Alice Hill

John Pleasants, John Lasseter and John Blackburn (I sense a pattern here) took the stage in turn to explain the slightly complicated (at first) concept of Disney Infinity.

Toy Box mode in the Toy Story 3 video game. Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

The idea first hatched while Avalanche Software was pitching for the Toy Story 3 video game , which includes a "Toy Box mode" - similar to "sandbox mode" in other games, meaning completely freestyle play, little or no storyline, quest or scripted adventure. You'll find this kind of thing in games like Minecraft and the Grand Theft Auto series.

Mr. Incredible demonstrates how linked-together items working in Disney Infinity's
Toy Box mode. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

In Infinity, much like in Minecraft and Sony's hit series Little Big Planet - which includes official Disney and Marvel skins (costumes/appearance) -- players can build their own "levels" and tag certain items (a step plate, a lever, a rock) to behave in a certain way. A door will open when the lever is pulled - if the player programs the lever to do so, which is achieved with just a couple of clicks.

A sampling of Disney Infinity figures. Photo by Alice Hill

Before the event, people in the gaming industry and gaming media heard rumors that Disney Infinity would be Disney's answer to the wildly popular Skylanders series. Yes and no. The biggest similarity is that both Infinity and Skylanders are launched via a small figurine of whatever character the player will be using. While Skylanders' creatures battle, Pokemon-style, using types - genus might be the closest I can describe it - Water-type is stronger than fire-type, and so on. Each separate character has its own battle stats as well. My daughter credits her years of playing Pokemon with her ease in passing statistics class.

Some of the round and hexagonal pieces that power this new Disney
Interactive gaming platform. Photo by Alice Hill

The Disney difference here is, that instead of placing one character, there is room on the hub for two, with round bases PLUS a hexagonal-shaped indentation, for a hexagonal piece. This piece is not a character, but rather a flat, semi-clear (it looked almost like an unlit glow cube from where we were sitting) object which would then tell the game to conjure up a new setting or item...we saw Jack Sparrow in Cinderella's coach, which can only happen in "Toy Box" mode. Each theme is kept completely separate and pure during standard play, which they call "Play Set" mode.

The stylized versions of Mike & Sulley which appear in the "Monsters
University" Play Set on this new Disney Interactive gaming platform.
Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

The "worlds" we saw featured Monsters University (and spoiled the movie BIG TIME, but I won't here), The Incredibles and Pirates of the Caribbean. The figures are very stylized, unlike any other version of the characters. The Starter Kit will include Sulley from Monsters University, Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean (the game, says Blackburn, is based upon the first three films) and Mr. Incredible. The Incredibles are in an alternate universe where Jack-Jack was never kidnapped, so Syndrome is one of the villains.

The superhero saga of the Incredibles continues with Disney Infinity. Photo by Alice Hill

In the Pirates world, you can actually pilot the entire ship. You can customize your ship, even to the cannons, battle with Davy Jones, and even gang up on him via multiplayer mode, either sharing a ship or each piloting your own. Some of the Pirates characters we saw were Mr. Gibbs, Davy Jones, Hammerhead, Pintel and Ragetti, Barbossa and Tia Dalma / Calypso.

John Blackburn, founder of Avalanche Software, shows off the "Pirates of the
Caribbean" play set. Photo by Alice Hill

In "Toy Box" mode, we saw a familiar castle, Spaceship Earth and Scrooge McDuck's money bin, Abu the elephant, and Perry the Platypus from Phineas & Ferb. Characters can ride other characters and also lift and carry them.

Check out those Disney icons behind Sulley. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

After the presentation, the VIPs headed across the street to the Loews Hotel, the D23 gang to the Roosevelt, and the media got to get up-close-and-personal with the games themselves, on three different platforms: XBox 360, Wii and Playstation 3. The game will also be available on tablets, phones and online.

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  • Too much pixar for me personally but then again I preferred the Disney computer animation films like chicken little and meet the robinsons.

    I just hope its not as terrible as epic Mickey 2 which my son only played once and wont touch it again.

  • What did you and Alice think about how the game played, Shelly?  Is there enough there to attract and keep the attention of the non-game playing Disneyphile?

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