Like many gamers, I feel a certain sense of nostalgia for the systems and games I grew up playing. I have reverence for them and still enjoy throwing down in Donkey Kong Country or Power Stone, and when I see the titles being made for kids nowadays I can’t help but feel that sense of pride and superiority. You know the one, where you think “Games for kids were so much better when I was a kid.” Then sometimes you get surprised by what developers are producing to the point where your pride turns to jealousy and you start to think, “I wish I had had that as a kid.”
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is the follow-up to Disney Interactive’s hit from last year, Disney Infinity. An answer to Activision’s “Skylanders” series, the game is built around players using specialized toys as the vessel for play in the game. Want to play as Iron Man? Just throw the Iron Man figure on the Disney Infinity base and he almost instantly shows up on your screen as playable. Furthermore, there are the “power discs” which can enhance your character visually via a costume change, give them an added weapon or ability, or introduce a friendly AI as a team-up character. Have you ever wanted to see black suit Spider-Man whip around Ghost Rider’s chain while fighting next to The Winter Soldier? You can here.
Not only is Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes nontraditional in the way players interact with the game from the outside, but in the game itself. Included with the starter pack for the game is The Avengers “play set,” which includes three figures as well as the (roughly) 8-hour Avengers centric campaign. Additional play sets, featuring Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, are also available and each feature their own unique world, missions, and story. Each play set, however, has a campaign that is filled to the brim with the life and energy of the Marvel universe. You’re not just running around the city as Thor, you’re in Marvel’s New York. Marvel characters will appear and speak to you and villains you’d never expect play an integral role in the campaign. The idea of punching the same enemies for a few hours might sound like it would get old, but as characters progress and evolve, and new enemies appear, the game continues to build on the mechanics to deliver a surprisingly challenging experience with a fun story.
The gameplay for each of the play sets centers on their own plots and enemies, but they’re all primarily platformer games with some puzzle elements. Fans of last year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will notice some similarities, but Disney Infinity relies more on beat ’em up style levels and simpler puzzle mechanics than its “LEGO” counter part. Though many missions might feel the same given their focus of “defeat the enemies,” it’s the locations and characters players will encounter and use that makes them feel unique each time. Visually, “LEGO Marvel” is a superior game as “Disney Infinity” relies on simpler graphics, but when the material and characters are treated with the reverence shown here, it’s easy to forgive them for not making the game jaw-dropping beautiful.
Despite offering a fraction of the playable characters seen in “LEGO Marvel,” Disney Infinity beats that game out in the treatment of characters. Every character has a skill tree which players can upgrade when the characters level up, adding a hint of an RPG element to the franchise. Characters max out at level 20, but when there are sixteen characters available at the game’s launch, there’s still plenty to do even after leveling up your Avengers.
The pricing for Disney Infinity and its peripherals might seem daunting and ludicrous from the outside, and it is certainly an expensive hobby, but the game isn’t “incomplete” without those elements. Even within the regular starter pack for the game, one might find yourself having completed the campaign and thinking you have nothing to do. That’s where the Toy Box comes in. In the Toy Box, players can create literally any kind of environment they can imagine, using the building blocks from throughout the Marvel Universe and Disney catalog. Want to make New York with Cinderella’s castle and a race track going around it? You can do that. Players can also create their own mini-games within their levels, and even download the creations of other players online. Furthermore, there are the Toy Box Game Discs that give players additional single or co-operative missions in the style of dungeon crawler or tower defense games, but with the worlds of Marvel and Disney colliding within them.
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is the kind of platform that video games were made for. It challenges the perception of what a game can be with its expansive toy and power disc peripherals but embraces what people want from video game by allowing campaigns, mini-games, and player-created content. It’s all in the name, the possibilities and replayability of the title are infinite. Fans of all ages can find joy and interest here as there is something for everyone be it the hardcore gamer, toy fan, or Marvel-ite.