I have two very different and distinct memories of the launch of the third installment in Disney’s popular toys-to-life franchise, Disney Infinity. Now, please treat this as your “rose-tinted glasses” warning, as I’m about to go for a wander down Memory Lane, back to a time when this was all fields! The first memory is a very personal one, as back in those days I was a shiny and new games “journalist”, and Disney Infinity 3.0 was my very first ever published review. It’s actually a little embarrassing now going back and reading my first gushing attempt at a review, and while the game was pretty good, I have to say my writing style wasn’t. Of course, now I’m a jaded veteran of this whole reviewing malarkey, I hope my style has matured a little.
Anyway, onto the second part of the things that have stuck in memory about this game, and that’s the amount of money Disney Infinity 3.0 ended up costing me and my wife. You see, small children are incredibly adept at giving you the big, wide-eyed smile and saying “Daddy, I need this figure, can I have it please?”. Well, when this was launched, my son was four, as cute as a cute thing and he had me and his mother wrapped around his little finger. So, not content with buying Skylanders (of which he had 228 unique figures at the height of his collecting) now Disney were to join in giving my wallet a damn good kicking. He’d already played and finished all the content for Disney Infinity 2.0, so moving onto 3.0 was a no-brainer for him.
At the beginning, everything looked like it was off to a good start. The playset that came with the game, Twilight of the Republic, featured Anakin Skywalker before he went all evil, and someone I’d never heard of – a lady named Ahsoka Tano, who had a nifty line in dual lightsabers. Flying about between planets and fulfilling all the mission requirements was pretty good fun, and bouncing around dispensing lightsaber-flavoured justice to various ne’er doers was always fun.
But of course, it didn’t end with just those two figures, did it?
Just like Disney 2.0 seemed to be all about the Marvel Universe (including, if I’m not mistaken, Spiderman’s last outing on an Xbox before he had “Property of Sony” tattooed on his arse), Disney 3.0 was all about the Star Wars Universe. New playsets appeared regularly, including one called Rise Against The Empire, which was largely based on the three classic Star Wars films, featuring Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie, with Darth Vader leading the charge for the dark side of the Force. The third playset was that of The Force Awakens, based on the events in the film of the same name, with the protagonists this time being Finn, Rey, Poe and the baddies being represented by Kylo Ren.
So, with all these sets and figures to buy, including Boba Fett, who is the coolest Star Wars character ever, I will brook no argument on this point – my wallet had been reduced to tears and I had a happy son, as he went around saving the galaxy. There were some memorable moments from these games too: flying through an asteroid field in the Millennium Falcon while shooting TIE fighters? Yes please!
Of course, Disney was about more than just Star Wars, and they released even more playsets just to prove it.
Inside Out, based on the Pixar film of the same name, sees Joy and the rest of the emotions running around trying to collect scattered memories. It was a fairly weak offering, if I’m honest, and seemed to turn the game into a platformer of all things, rather than a combat-focussed sandbox game. My son didn’t take to it either, but I think that’s largely because the film scared him when he was very small and he’s never liked Inside Out since.
Marvel Battlegrounds, the next release, allowed four-player local play, as Loki and Ultron tried to steal an infinity stone from the vault in Asgard, and so distracted the Avengers with robotic minions disguised as members of the Avengers. This is the only mode, apart from the Toy Box mode, where the Disney 2.0 Marvel characters could be used, and as such proved to be a big hit in my household. There was a playset based around Finding Dory as well, but I have to admit to my relief that my son had started to fall out of love with the Disney Infinity games by the time this was released, and was starting to become a holy terror in Overwatch.
The last two playsets to be released were Toy Box Takeover, and Toy Box Speedway. The first of these, Takeover, sees Syndrome getting hold of Mickey’s wand and taking over the Toy Box, and it’s up to our hero (whoever we choose that to be) to take back control by clearing dungeon crawler-type levels. This was a pretty good expansion, all in all, as the change in focus made it more fun. The last expansion, Speedway, was a cross between racing from Disney Infinity 1 and the Cars-themed level and a twist of Mario Kart-style gameplay, with much racing action to partake in. Again, any character can enter, and it was nice to see a change in the focus of the game again. Trying something new is what Disney Infinity was all about.
The combat had changed a little from the previous game too, mainly to incorporate lightsabers. Some characters used ranged weapons, like blasters, and with these the range for auto lock-on had been extended, meaning you could safely engage from a distance without treading on the enemies’ toes. The lightsaber battles could look brilliant, and with an enhanced combo system in place, allowing for branching combos to be executed, fighting the enemies and bosses was a great deal of fun. Of course, some characters, like Luke, could use both types of weapons, and juggling enemies with a combination of blaster fire and a lightsaber was as close to Devil May Cry-type gameplay as a Disney game is ever likely to get.
Sadly, this was to be the last of the Disney Infinity-type games, as in 2016 Disney shut down Avalanche Studios and brought to an end the whole toys-to-life side of their business. The whole of the online side of the game soon shut down thereafter, with no more downloads from the Toy Box allowed, and no more submissions of user generated content being accepted. The Windows version of the game is unplayable now, due to the game being removed from Steam and all related websites being closed. As far as I know, the console versions of the games do still work, but a large chunk of the functionality has been removed, and only playsets can be used. It seems the toys-to-life genre has been well and truly finished, as there hasn’t been a new Skylanders game for a long time either, and so my wallet can breathe a sigh of relief.
So, these then are my memories of playing Disney 3.0 with my son. How about you guys? Did you play it on Xbox One, and do you still play to this day? Did your wallet come to hate the sight of all the characters in their little plastic boxes, demanding to be bought? Let us know in the comments!