In ancient times B.V.G. (Before Video Games), here's how kids played: take all your toys and dump them on the floor. Forget about logic or plot consistency because the most important goal is to create an entertaining adventure.
That's the essence of Disney Infinity (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii). Why not let Buzz Lightyear ride Dumbo? Or invite Mickey Mouse to hang out with Wreck-It Ralph? There's one limitation: the characters have to belong to The Walt Disney Co. But given the depth of Disney's roster - which now includes Star Wars, Marvel superheroes and The Muppets - the possible combinations do seem endless.
The starter kit comes with figurines of Mr Incredible, Captain Jack Sparrow and Sulley, and "play sets" for their movies, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters University. Additional characters cost extra. It's hardly the optimal line-up: Disney's hand-drawn animated classics are absent, and I'd happily trade Tonto for, say, Scrooge McDuck.
The introductory package also includes the Infinity Base, which plugs into your game console and has two round spaces for characters and a hexagonal space for a play set. Park Sulley and his play set on the base, for example, and you're off on an adventure at Monsters U. By providing different game worlds for different characters, the play sets distinguish Disney Infinity from its obvious inspiration, Activision's blockbuster Skylanders series.
The initial play sets offer an engaging mix of video-game genres. The Incredibles leap tall buildings and battle evil robots. Captain Jack engages in swordplay and commands a pirate ship. And the Monsters U students conduct a stealthy war of pranks against their rivals at Fear Tech.
Each of these solo campaigns lasts about four hours, but you'll want to spend more time collecting the hundreds of capsules scattered across each open world. They contain the components you'll need to build your own virtual playground in the Disney Infinity Toy Box.
Your Toy Box begins as a small, flat plot of land that you can upgrade with trees, hills and other natural features. As you gather more capsules, you can add people, animals, vehicles and buildings.
Once you start adding characters, play sets and power discs, your future investment in Infinity could be, well, infinite.
Lou Kesten (AP)