Star Wars action figures come to life in Disney Infinity 3.0
By Keith Liu August 24, 2015
- First videogame tie-in to upcoming ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ movie
- Gameplay enhancements include lightsabre combat, improved driving mechanics
FANS of the Jedi Knights will have more than just the new Star Wars sequel The Force Awakens to look forward to, later this year.
They can also collect a new breed of Star Wars action figures that will ‘come to life’ in the upcoming videogame, Disney Infinity 3.0.
Disney Interactive in Singapore and Malaysia announced last week that the latest instalment of the best-selling ‘hybrid toy/ videogame’ of 2014 will be available locally from Sept 1 on major videogame console platforms, namely PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.
These ‘Starter Packs’ will come packaged with a game disc, two Star Wars character figures (Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano), a Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic play set, a Disney Infinity 3.0 base and a web code card that unlocks content for PC and mobile devices.
This will be followed weeks later by a Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire play set where gamers can take the role of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, in missions that pit them against Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire.
At the Disney fan festival D23 held in the United States last week, the media giant also announced the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens play set for the game, along with action figures of the main characters, marking it as the first videogame content tie-in to the much anticipated film.
For the Padawan out there who have no idea how this works, here is typically what happens: Players boot up the game with the disc, connect the Disney Infinity base via USB cable to the console, and place the ‘play set’ game piece (a translucent plastic sculpture) on the base, along with one of the character figures.
Using tiny NFC (near field communication) chips built into the plastic toys, the play set will then unlock the scenarios within the game, while the action figure will appear on screen, ready to be controlled by the player.
Remove the action figure, or replace it with another one, and the digital avatar in the game changes accordingly. Players can also open up new story missions and levels with additional play sets.
Think of play sets as physical keys to unlock new content within the game.
But Star Wars-themed play sets won’t be the only ones announced for Disney Infinity 3.0. The publisher will also release play sets based on the recent Pixar hit Inside Out (pic below) and long-time videogame franchise Kingdom Hearts featuring classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Disney Interactive launched its first Disney Infinity in 2013 focused mostly on Pixar-based characters from Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Cars, followed by Disney Infinity 2.0 last year, featuring its stable of characters from comic book giant Marvel, including The Avengers and Spider-Man.
Aside from the story missions based on these franchises, players can also venture into the ‘Toy Box’, a ‘sandbox game’ mode which lets them use any of the characters they’ve purchased to play within a world that’s imagined and created by the player.
They can also download new ‘Toy Box’ levels made by other players around the world. This provides an avenue for budding game designers to share their creations with everyone else.
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) at the Singapore media event, Disney Interactive’s Disney Infinity producer Jason Moffitt (pic above) said, “This is going to be the first Disney game to give you the ability to bring a Pixar character, a [classic] Disney character, a Marvel super hero and a Star Wars character – and play with all in the same place at the same time, which is pretty amazing.”
The toys-to-life category where action figures appear as videogame characters was first introduced by US game maker Activision with its popular Skylanders series in 2012.
The publisher has since released two sequels and a third one, Skylanders SuperChargers (pic below) is expected to hit the market, also in September this year.
This lucrative segment has attracted other players like Disney, Nintendo and Lego to also enter the fray.
Lego’s first entry in the toys-to-life category, ‘Lego Dimensions’ (pic below) is expected later this year, while Nintendo has seen its ‘Amiibo’ action figures with characters like Super Mario and Donkey Kong become a runaway hit for the videogame giant.
Disney’s own entries did see commercial and critical success initially, with its games scoring above 70 out of 100 on game review aggregation site Metacritic.
However, last year’s Marvel edition didn’t fare as well. The company cited “weak Disney Infinity and catalogue sales” as the primary reason behind its recent 22% dip in quarterly revenue to US$208 million, while profits fell by US$29 million, for its Interactive business.
Moffitt admitted that with Disney Infinity 2.0, some gamers were left a little disappointed with the main play set storyline and missions.
“The problem too, we got put up against other Marvel games, we got held up to a standard that other Marvel games got held up to, and so I think people are a little disappointed with that mode, but the improvements that we made in Toy Box, there were a lot of improvements there,” he said.
He believes the gameplay changes to the latest iteration will entice gamers back to the franchise, including enhanced swordplay with lightsabres, combo moves and unique special attacks, improved controls in the driving and flying portions of the game, and even an online kart-racing mini-game.
For the PC, iOS and Android platforms, Moffitt said the digital download will be free with a basic Toy Box mode. Starter packs and characters will be sold as digital codes via in-app purchases.
But collectors (and their kids) aren’t left out in the cold. All of the physical figures and play sets sold at retail stores will also come with unique codes that unlock the characters and scenarios across all the digital versions.
As far as videogames go, these titles don’t come cheap. The Starter Packs will cost S$99/ RM249 each, while individual action figures will be sold at S$22.90/ RM55 each. Additional play sets will be available for S$54.90/ RM139.
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