From: Disney Interactive Studios
Rated: E 10+
Who it's for: Anyone looking for a creative game and not terrified by the cost
Console: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
I'm a true-blue Disney fan, from my extensive library of books and videos to the art hanging on my walls right down to my Mickey Mouse tattoo.
It's important you know this because it affects the way I feel about "Disney Infinity," the new game/toy box/line of collectibles from the mouse house.
Set up in similar fashion to the popular "Skylander" game series, "Disney Infinity" combines collectible toys, collectible discs and video games into one very fun -- and potentially very expensive -- experience.
Everyone starting with "Disney Infinity" must buy a Starter Pack ($75). This includes the game software, the figure base, three figures and one Power Disc.
To play the game, figures are placed on the figure base and the corresponding characters appear in the game, essentially bringing your toys to life. There are two places for figures on the base, so two people can play at once.
The third spot on the base holds a clear crystal that unlocks certain Play Sets within the game.
The Starter Pack comes with three Play Sets: "Monsters University," "The Incredibles" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." As you might guess, the three figures -- Sully, Mr. Incredible and Jack Sparrow -- correspond to each of those sets.
If two people want to play within a Play Set, you'll have to buy another figure, a Mike to play along with Sully, for instance. Additional figures are prices at $13, though figure multipacks are available to cut the cost a little.
Two other Play Sets also are available -- "Cars" and "The Lone Ranger" -- each of which comes with the crystal to unlock the Play Set within the game and two figures from that property ($35).
The next Play Set -- "Toy Story" -- will release in October.
Then there are the collectible Power Discs, small plastic discs that can be placed under your character (or Play Set crystal) to enhance the game. These can even be stacked three deep, to add new abilities and items into the game.
The Power Discs are sold in blind packs (you never know what you're going to get) two for $5. The first series consists of 20 discs plus an additional 10 that are exclusive to Toys R Us. Disney hopes people will get together and trade their duplicate discs like trading cards, encouraging social interaction.
All of this means obtaining a complete set of "Disney Infinity" components will cost north of $300 -- not including the second and third sets of Power Discs, or the dozen additional character figures already announced by Disney.
So is it worth it?
If the game were limited to the Play Sets, I would say no. While fun, these areas are somewhat limiting, offering only about six hours of gameplay each. But the heart of the game lies elsewhere.
The Toy Box is where "Disney Infinity" turns into something special. Within each Play Set are hundreds of collectibles. As you find these, toys are unlocked in the Toy Box, where you can play with them to your heart's desire.
The tools in the Toy Box allow you to create your own games. Build massive environments, set up game systems as simple or complex as your imagination demands and combine characters from your favorite Disney franchises.
That's right, where only characters from "Monsters University" can appear in the "Monsters University" Play Set, in the Toy Box, Sully can go on an adventure with Buzz Lightyear.
Most important, the Toy Box encourages creativity and imagination, elevating players to the role of creators. It's absolutely fantastic.
You can save up to 99 Toy Box levels and even upload them to share. Because Disney reviews every shared level before it's made available, parents don't have to worry about inappropriate content sneaking in.
While undeniably expensive, "Disney Infinity" encourages creativity in ways few other games have, and it does so with familiar, well-loved characters.
So keep in mind that everything doesn't need to be purchased at once (or even owned by one player) and give "Disney Infinity" a try. It might be the most creative game you've ever played.