Disney Infinity, releasing August 18, is one part physical toys, one part video game, and all parts a complete nightmare for any parent's wallet.
Similar to Activision's Skylanders franchise, Disney Infinity is itself only the tip of a giant, toy iceberg. Each time you buy a $14 physical Disney Infinity figurine, you add that character (and a bunch of related props) to the main console experience.
Infinity also features a "Toy Box" mode, which basically is every kid's dreams come true. Remember setting up all your toys in your room and acting out scenarios? The Toy Box mode in Infinity lets you take all the characters and objects you've purchased and throw them all together, build new levels for your toys to play in, or make them fight. It's essentially a giant sandbox.
If I know kids, it will probably sell trillions of copies.
But that's not enough for Disney. No, Disney wants to make sure you never stop playing Disney Infinity. Ever. Hence the title.
John Vignocchi, executive producer for Disney Infinity, outlined Infinity's future on mobile platforms for TechHive--two new apps, one launching immediately and one launching sometime in the future.
Disney Infinity: Action! app
The first app, named Disney Infinity: Action! is available August 15 on iOS, with Android and Windows Phone versions to follow.
Using what I can only assume is Disney magic, the app can insert Disney Infinity characters into regular videos you take with your phone's camera, meaning it just got a lot easier to make that Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel.
Each Infinity character comes with one free action, and then you'll have to spend in-app currency (called coins) to purchase others. Adding more characters to the app requires you to punch in product codes that are included with each Disney Infinity figurine.
We didn't really get a demo of how the app works, but Disney did show us a video made prior to our arrival where Monsters Inc.'s Sully (as well as the Lone Ranger) managed to peek out from behind a pillar in the frame. How the app recognized the pillar, and how the characters knew to peek out, we have no idea. I guess we'll find out when the app is released Thursday. Finished videos can be shared through conventional means, whether Facebook, YouTube, or email.
I can already see the practical applications. I could throw a party and then, when nobody showed up, I could pretend all the Disney characters were hanging out with me so I wasn't simply drinking alone.
Sounds like a public relations nightmare for family-friendly Disney, right? Well, in a statement that only means someone at Disney doesn't understand the Internet, we were told that the team isn't afraid this technology will be abused. Hint: they're wrong. We'll leave it to your imagination.
Disney Infinity: Toy Box app
The second app, Disney Infinity: Toy Box, has no official release date yet, but will be coming to iPads "in the near future."
The tech behind Toy Box is just as impressive as the Action demos, though luckily less ripe for abuse: the team managed to take the entire Toy Box mode from the console versions of Disney Infinity and make it fully playable on an iPad (the app is compatible with the second, third, and fourth generation of Apple's tablet).
While you're away from your TV--say, if you're away from home on a family road trip--you can log into your Disney Identity account, load up the same Toy Box levels you created at home, and keep building. Once you've built the level, you can swap over to your character and play through your creation just like you were using the full retail version of Disney Infinity (utilizing software controls).
Done playing? Upload your tweaked Toy Box level back to the cloud and access it on any other console or tablet; the data is entirely platform independent, provided you own a copy of Disney Infinity for that device.
Play Disney Infinity on your Xbox 360 at home, take the bus to a friend's house and mess with your Toy Box the entire ride over, and then play your tweaked Toy Box level on your friend's Wii U or Sony PlayStation 3 without any hitches.
Oh yeah, and the Toy Box app is completely free even if you don't buy a copy of the retail game--although, unless you link your account to an actual copy of Disney Infinity, you only get access to 65 of the full version's 1000+ objects.
The Disney team is looking at the possibility of using microtransactions to unlock more objects further down the line, but specifies that for now this is strictly a "companion" app. This means it is designed to potentially lure in new customers while also enriching the experience for those who own a retail copy of Disney Infinity.
So whether you choose to make videos or mess around in the Toy Box, don't ever stop playing Disney Infinity. I'm pretty sure if you stop, Buzz and Woody never make it back to Andy's house. Or something.