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Aww! Tiny Death Star, Disney's new Star Wars game


8-bit
Oct 04
// Dale North
Aww! Tiny little Death Stars in 8-bit. On your mobile.  Disney Interactive has teamed up with LucasArts and Tiny Tower creators NimbleBit to bring us Star Wars: Tiny Death Star. You'll work alongside Vader and Palpatine ...
Disney Infinity DLC photo
Disney Infinity DLC

Impressions: Disney Infinity: Lone Ranger Play Set


Easily the best set in the game so far
Sep 13
// Chris Carter
Disney Infinity is in this for the long haul, because after spending $100 million on R&D, Disney and Avalanche still have quite a bit of content to gradually dole out. Some content will arrive by way of characters that ca...
Disney Infinity DLC photo
Disney Infinity DLC

Impressions: Disney Infinity: Cars Play Set


An expensive trip to Radiator Springs
Sep 11
// Chris Carter
Disney Infinity is out, giving you a taste of three worlds from various Disney and Pixar properties -- some welcome, some not -- but the starter pack isn't the only bit of content in town. In addition to characters for the st...

Very Quick Tips: A Disney Infinity Guide

Sep 08 // Chris Carter
How do I get started, and how much does everything cost? To play Disney Infinity you'll need to buy the starter pack for $74.99. It comes with the actual game disc, three toys/in-game characters (Sully, Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Incredible), the base to hold the toys, and one random power disc (which I'll explain in a second). Should you decide you want more, characters are $13 each, new campaigns (Play Sets) are $34.99 and come with two characters, and there are a select few triple character packs for $29.99. The cheapest way to own everything in Series 1 without deals is to buy the Starter Pack ($74.99), the Sidekicks pack ($29.99), the Villains Pack ($29.99), Dash ($12.99), Violet ($12.99), Francesco ($12.99), Mater ($12.99), the Cars Play Set ($34.99), and the Lone Ranger Play Set ($34.99). That's a grand total of $256.91 at retail for five campaigns that range from 5-10 hours each, and 17 toys to use in Toy box. Yowzers! On the base itself, there is room for two characters to fit into the circular grooves (left is player one, right is player two). If you want to play a multiplayer campaign (Play Set), both characters must be a part of the same franchise (meaning, you cannot play local campaign co-op with the starter kit). Toy Box eliminates this restriction, as all franchises can fully mix. On the top part of the base, you can place a Play Set piece (currently, one piece that contains Monsters/Pirates/Incredibles that comes in the starter pack, or separately sold pieces for Cars, and one for Lone Ranger -- $35 each) or a Power Disc in the hexagonal area on top. The Disney Infinity Fans forum periodically updates threads with information on events and specials. Amazon, Toys "R" Us, Target, and Walmart are your usual suspects for deals. How do Power Discs work? Power Discs come in blind packs of two (in the silver and gold pack variety) for roughly $5 per pack.  It's confusing at first, but once you understand the two fundamental types, it's not that hard. Those two types are: circular and hexagonal. There's no rhyme or reason as to the blind packaging of each type -- a pack could come with any combination of circular or hexagonal bases. The circular discs are placed under your character (up to two at a time) and grant you passive bonuses, such as 10% extra damage. The hexagonal discs can only be used in Toy Box mode, and grant you extra NPCs to play with (such as vehicles or weapons), as well as set pieces and themes (like an underwater Finding Nemo sky). If you're wondering how to change your set pieces after placing them on the base, you have to build the "Sky Changer" device and place it in your world. This isn't normally explained, and is really easy to miss. Toys "R" Us periodically holds in-store "trading events" for these discs, and Amazon/eBay sellers will put them up individually if you need specific discs. Here's a great online checklist tool for all available Series 1 discs. The two rarest discs are "Mike's Car" and "Tron User Control," which can run around $20 each from individual sellers. If you want to check and see what discs are in a blind pack before purchasing, simply place the sealed package on a demo kiosk base to check them. Unlocking the vaults (requirements): Vaults are giant doors that grant you a ton of extras if you unlock them. The only catch is, they require all characters within each set to interact with them before opening. Typically they give you a large number of Toy Box pieces, as well as a brand new Toy Box base level to mess around with. In the starter pack, once again you only get three characters (Mr. Incredible, Sully, and Jack Sparrow), so your cheapest franchise options in terms of unlocking vaults are Monsters and Pirates, who only require two toys each (at $13 a pop) in addition to the starter pack. The Lone Ranger is the only pack to require two toys to unlock the vault, but you need to buy the Play Set separately. Here's how many toys you'll need for each Play Set: Monsters University: Mike, Sully, Randy (3) Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, Hector Barbosa (3) The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, Dash, Violet, Syndrome (5) Cars: Lightning McQueen, Holly Shiftwell, Mater, Francesco (4) The Lone Ranger: Lone Ranger, Tonto (2) Vault locations: Monsters University: Progress with the story until you get to the clock tower (roughly northwest of the starting area) -- the vault is on the tower itself. You can get there by flinging yourself over the fence with a prank box. Pirates of the Caribbean: The vault is at the very beginning of the game. Do the first few tutorial quests until you get your ship, then go northeast of the ship's dock, facing away from the ship. The Incredibles: This one is in the main city. Go to the bridge that's near the north side, near your headquarters (the building with the giant statue). The vault is on top of a building slightly west if you're facing away from the HQ, across the bridge to the city. Cars: As soon as you start the map, you should be pointing towards a giant mountain range (one off to the right side -- not the big mountain in the center). Go under the mountain and into the caverns to find it. If you're lost, it's northeast of Luigi's in Radiator Springs. The Lone Ranger: This vault is near the town of Colby. Face the train station, then head directly west to find it attached to a mountain range wall. This is the only vault in the game that only needs two characters to open, and can be opened within the confines of one Play Set pack. It's also the most fun campaign in the game. Spinning for pieces in Toy Box: By completing tasks in Play Sets you'll earn "Infinity Tokens," which earn you spins in the Toy Box for more extras like Pride Rock or Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin. You can find this contraption at the Disney Infinity home base, under the yellow icon. My suggestion is to get at least 16 tokens, and shuffle the board until you find a piece you really want (like the Cave of Wonders for example) -- then, randomly spin until you get that piece, even if it takes you the entire board. As long as you don't shuffle the board, it won't switch the pieces around. General tips: In the Lone Ranger Play Set, make sure you find the five bone charm locations to unlock the ability to fly around the map at will as a crow. The last charm you'll typically find is the one on top of a large tower after building the second railroad track to unlock the third area. This is how you get those seemingly unobtainable power-ups flying in the sky. If you find yourself losing races in the Cars Play Set, buy all the turbo you can get your hands on. You'll need it to beat the last race in the game. To earn turbo, you can use tricks (the right analog stick) in the air, grind rails (powerslide on certain lips), and pick up gas cans. Typically, I use turbo as soon as I get it, until the last half of the last lap, where I save all my boosts to use at once. The best power discs to use to save time during Play Sets are the Tron disc (extra experience) and the Pirates disc (extra gold). Everything else is fairly superfluous. When using the hoverboard in the Incredibles Play Set, you won't be able to glide unless you "let it ride" into the air. If you attempt to jump beforehand you'll start falling. For maximum air, let it ride, then jump as soon as the board starts dipping. If you're wondering why you can't use all of your abilities in the Incredibles set, you have to unlock your HQ first, then go to the kung-fu trainer to learn your core power. If you're curious as to what the most effective abilities are, Dash is extremely useful for covering a lot of ground when vehicles aren't an option with his super speed. Some campaigns have repeatable missions that don't influence the core story. For instance, Cars has randomly generated objectives like "tow the speeder" or "rescue the tourist." You don't have to do these to beat the Play Set, but repeating them can earn you extra experience and cash. So what's coming next? The only Play Set that's currently confirmed is the "Toy Story in Space" set (which will most likely be priced at $34.99), which contains Buzz, Jesse, and the Toy Story campaign. You can buy Woody separately to use in this set. The "Frozen" pack is also coming later this year, and will contain the characters Anna and Elsa (no Play Set) as well as two unique Power Discs. Individual characters for Series 2 are coming from October on, including Jack Skellington, Rapunzel, Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope von Schweetz, Phineas, Perry, and Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey. As of the time of this writing, the individual characters for Series 2 will not have their own Play Sets/campaigns -- meaning, they have to be used in the Toy Box. You may have seen a Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey toy floating around online for $200 -- this is a special character given out at Disney's 2013 D23 Expo. It will arrive eventually as a Series 2 or Series 3 figure in the future.
Disney Infinity Guide photo
A full overview of Series One
It's been a few weeks since Disney Infinity was released, and I've scoured every inch of content there is to offer. Since there's a ton of confusion as to what exactly needs to be purchased to unlock what piece of conten...

Review: Disney Infinity

Aug 24 // Chris Carter
Disney Infinity (3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveReleased: August 18, 2013 (NA) August 23, 2013 (EU) [3DS, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360] / October 2013 [PC]MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Pack) / $39.99 (Play Set with two characters) / $12.99 (Individual characters) In order to get started with Disney Infinity, straight-up, you're going to need to purchase the Starter Pack just like Skylanders (ouch!). It'll net you an Infinity Base that plugs into your system via USB, three figures in the form of Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Sulley (Monsters University), and Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles), plus a hexagonal Play Set piece that includes a separate campaign for all three of these IPs -- which I'll explain in a bit. The toys themselves are extremely high quality, and a step up from the Skylanders figures as they're taller, generally larger, and made of tougher material that doesn't feel flimsy. They're non-articulated which is a bummer, and the base is rather large, but I don't feel like I could break them by stepping on them or dropping them, and they stand up perfectly on just about any surface. Just like Skylanders, information for each piece is hard-coded in the base itself, and you can travel with your characters and keep your level progress. Alternatively, you can have a friend buy the game for the Play Sets, and just buy a character to use yourself; you can also use them on any platform. So what can you actually do with these toys? Well, you place them on the Infinity Base to jump into a Play Set, which is a fully-featured world themed after Pirates, Monsters, or The Incredibles. Pirates will take place in a world full of swashbuckling ne'er-do-wells and the high seas, Monsters University is set on the titular university grounds, and The Incredibles world features the GTA-like city of Metroville. All of them operate in the same manner, playing out a narrative similar to the films in non-linear mid-sized sandboxes. [embed]260315:50188:0[/embed] Not all sets are created equal though, as the Monsters and Pirates Play Sets in particular aren't nearly as engaging as The Incredibles. While Metroville is a joy to explore, topping LEGO City Undercover's Lego City in terms of personality and fun-factor, the University and the high seas pale in comparison. The academia-heavy Monsters Play Set feels like a mid-tier Tony Hawk level at times, leading you to mundane tasks like cleaning up toilet paper attacks from rival college Fear Tech. Similarly, getting around by way of ship-travel can be a bit of a bore in Pirates, especially compared to the Helicopter- and Hoverboard-heavy Incredibles Play Set. With simple one-button attacks and at most a few abilities at your disposal, if I had to compare the gameplay to anything, it would be the LEGO games. You know by now whether you're the target audience, and if you can't seem to "get" them, you'd probably be better off staying away from Disney Infinity. But for the rest of us who don't mind easy-going mechanics from time to time, it's actually quite enjoyable. Each of the starter worlds has a roughly three-hour core campaign, with tons of content packed in all three like side-missions, story quests, and hidden collectibles that will push you far past the three-hour mark. For the purposes of this review, I purchased an additional $30 pack to augment the starter edition that came with the following characters: Davy Jones (Pirates), Randy (Monsters University), and Syndrome (Incredibles). You may notice that the IPs of these three characters match up with the starter kit -- that's because in order to play co-op between worlds, you need two characters from the same universe -- for example, Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones. The concept behind this according to Disney (beyond the obvious monetary reasons, shhh) is that each world is a separate contained experience, and having Mr. Incredible running around in the Pirates world would feel weird. The good news is split-screen co-op is a treat, as it allows each player to roam around the world freely, doing anything they wish without tethering people together on the same bit of TV real-estate. To test how far I could take it, my wife and I tried a ton of co-op together and had a pretty great time. There weren't very many limits at all. At one point I was in one area in the Incredibles city doing core missions, and she was in a completely different part looking for collectibles and saving the local Zoo. Whenever we felt like joining up for quests, we just followed the compass to the meet-up spot. It's a bit weird to play as Syndrome (the villain in The Incredibles) and see him causing havoc to the town in the story bits, but I'm willing to put up with it if the alternative is not being able to choose the character I want. So those three aforementioned worlds I talked about above? That's all you get with the Starter Pack. If you want additional game worlds (there are currently two extras right now -- Cars and The Lone Ranger), you're going to have to purchase a seperate Play Set, which comes with two characters (allowing co-op, inherently), and the hexagonal base that comes with the levels. In other words, think of it as really expensive DLC that nets you approximately another three hours of gameplay. Power Discs are another concern, as they're sold in blind packs, and net you additional content and bonuses by placing them under your physical toys on the base. Thankfully, most of these extras are small in nature or cosmetic, and can be ignored -- especially the stat boosts, which you absolutely don't need to beat the game. Now, this model would really turn me off if it weren't for the Toy Box, which is included in the base game and is extremely well done. Essentially, it's a completely separate mode that allows you to create your own world and setup a number of different objects from various Disney IPs like Scrooge McDuck's Moneybin, ESPN sports-themed equipment (yes, Disney owns ESPN!) and actual rides from Disney parks. If you want, you can queue up a race track and play with Cars characters, or create vehicles and animals to ride for characters with legs. This is where all the good classic IPs like Alice in Wonderland are hiding, and you can set up your town with hundreds of items from just about every major Disney film, from Robin Hood to Beauty and the Beast. Toy Box is really open-ended, and online play with the ability to submit and share levels online is a plus. It's one part Minecraft-lite, one part LittleBigPlanet, and the tools provided are fairly robust, easy to understand, and enjoyable to play with. If you're the kind of gamer who hates creating things though, you'll quickly run out of things to do in the Toy Box. There are a few extra modes to play around in besides Play Sets and the Toy Box, including other downloadable Box worlds, the Hall of Heroes (that lets you view all of your collected content, and morphs as you level up), and one challenge that's unique to each character. But beyond the game's modes, I can't help but feel like the initial cast of character should have been a lot stronger. For instance, there are a lot of Pixar properties that are playable, but very few classic Disney movies are represented beyond a few small NPC references. While I haven't purchased the Lone Ranger Play Set yet to test the actual quality of the sandbox, one has to wonder about the actual appeal of said IP in the grand scheme of things, and why Johnny Depp's likeness had to be in the game not once, but twice. Heavy-hitters like Toy Story, Wreck-It-Ralph and Phineas and Ferb are due to arrive later this year, but not at launch. Coming in with a bang with Star Wars- or Marvel-related properties would have made Infinity a must-buy, but as it stands, you really need to like Disney and Pixar to get into the launch cast. I can see the potential with Disney Infinity both within its future playset opportunities and the Toy Box, but it's not quite at a "must buy" status just yet. By the same token, I had a ton of fun playing the game, especially with a local co-op partner on-hand. So long as you're willing to put up with some rather elementary action gameplay, Disney Infinity is a solid choice for families, younger gamers, and gamers who are young at heart alike.
Disney Infinity reviewed photo
Rather finite, but fun
With the success of Skylanders and Skylanders Giants, it was inevitable that someone would challenge the concept of marrying toys to videogames on such a large scale. So what better company than the juggernaut that is Disney,...

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An easy way to level up your Disney Infinity character


Take advantage of it before it gets patched!
Aug 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Pick up Disney Infinity? Well if you're impatient you can use this neat little trick to level up your Disney Infinity characters pretty fast. Just set down a fan, get in a car, and then get spun in the air like you just don'...
Disney Infinity photo
Disney Infinity

Disney has spent over $100M on Infinity development


Oh, they'll make it back, don't worry
Aug 16
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Wall Street Journal has a report stating that Disney has spent well over $100 million on the development of Disney Infinity. That's for both the game, and all of the toys that can work for it. Disney has had a very rocky hist...
Fantasia photo
Fantasia

New trailer for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved


Dragon Age composer to contribute orchestral themes
Aug 14
// Tim Sheehy
Following Disney's D23 Expo last weekend, Harmonix released the latest trailer for their upcoming motion game Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. "The Evolution of Disney Fantasia," gives us a glimpse at the history behind the a...

The Lone Ranger rides into Disney Infinity

Jun 10 // Tony Ponce
Disney Infinity (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii , Wii U, Xbox 360)Developer: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: August 2013 As mentioned before, half of Disney Infinity involves visiting various Disney movie worlds and going on whole new adventures in those worlds. You plant a special environment token and a character figurine atop a very Skylanders-esque pedestal and get whisked away. Unfortunately, you are limited to using only the characters native to that world in order to preserve the appropriate atmosphere. The mixing and matching is thus reserved for the Toy Box, a free-form mode that is essentially a fusion of LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft, and the mighty Disney money machine. But before we jump into that, let's talk the Lone Ranger playset. [embed]255796:49024:0[/embed] The Lone Ranger and his Indian partner Tonto must drive off the outlaw Butch Cavendish and his men from the small town of Colby, Texas. Encircling the town is a train, unable to break out of its loop until the bridge leading to another area is repaired. To repair it, you must earn coins, and to earn coins, you must take on missions. Swapping the two heroes at your leisure, you battle Cavendish's posse with your pistol / tomahawks. By tapping the left trigger and the maneuvering the right control stick, you can even play out your firefights like a third-person shooter. As you defeat foes and collect loot, you also accept missions from townsfolk noted by big glowing question marks above their heads. Sometimes you'll be asked to do something as simple as hit a target with your weapon. Other times you'll have to run errands, such as acquiring TNT or retrieving a woman's husband who has gone missing near the mines. These missions may link to one another, and you could find yourself on a side quest chain reminiscent of Zelda games. Throughout your campaign, you are constantly reminded that this is a fun toy world and you have access to god-like creation tools at a moment's notice. Should you cause collateral damage to the town, a simple press of the button will restore the buildings to their former glory. If you want to build that bridge, you can open an item menu and purchase the bridge or other goods, all which will instantly generate in the field like magic. Finally, you'll find plastic vending machine capsules floating about, their contents which include in-world tools or more goodies for the Toy Box. The Monsters University world is a little different in that you are engaged in a prank war with the neighboring school, Fear Tech. You can approach certain structures on the campus, press a button, and pull up a menu that allows you to swap the structure with stuff like spring-loaded easy chairs or boxing glove-sprouting phone booths, linking them together to form one big Rube Goldberg prank machine. The demo station running the Monsters University world was doing so on the Wii U, so I had a chance to check out the GamePad features. Aside from some hotkey shortcuts, the parts selection menu that would normally appear on the bottom of the screen appears instead on the GamePad. There really isn't any benefit to this feature, and I found it rather pointless. The other half -- and Disney Infinity's main claim to fame -- is the robust Toy Box mode. The world is a blank canvas upon which you can drop Tron vehicles, generate environments from Wreck-It Ralph, and more by placing hexagons into the pedestal. You can actually stack multiple hexagons atop each other for chained effects. For instance, by placing two additional hexagons underneath Jack Sparrow, he's granted power-up buffs or bonuses. You are free to write your own logic rules in Toy Box, so you can create something like a one-on-one fighter, a racing game, or a soccer match. And with all the pieces you earned from the main mode, along with pieces and characters generated from the pedestal, there really isn't any limit to what you want to do. This needn't be a solitary experience -- two players can use a single pedestal and interact via split screen, or you can take the adventure online with three other players. Furthermore, the games, environments, and structures you create can be uploaded to the net, where they will be curated and offered to other players the world over for download. There is seemingly no end to what can be accomplished in Disney Infinity, and it is for that very reason that I am wary. Unlike Skylanders, which is a basic hack-and-slash dungeon crawler albeit with colorful figurines you can buy, Disney Infinity seemingly defies any simple explanation. I can see there being a very big challenge in conveying the nature of the game to kids -- hell, even I'm a bit confused as to what Disney and developer Avalanche Software are trying to accomplish. The new trailer further up the page runs down a list of scenarios and game types possible within the Toy Box. I see it as a checklist of features that Disney wanted in the game, no matter how poorly they wind up being implemented. As it stands, a lot of the features -- right down to the clunky platforming controls -- feel incomplete. How much of the game can Avalanche improve before its target release in August? Others are really excited by Disney Infinity's potential, but I personally haven't been pleased thus far. Maybe I just need more hands-on time before the concept clicks. That's what E3 is for, after all.
Disney Infinity preview photo
Tonto, jump on it
Prior to the E3 festivities, Disney demonstrated the upcoming cash grab Disney Infinity to a room teeming with journalists. The focus of the event was on two of the in-game worlds plus the oft-touted Toy Box mode. The first w...

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Building race tracks in Disney Infinity


Race them however you want to
May 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The latest on Disney Infinity shows off what you'll be able to do in terms of racing. You can design and build any kind of race track you want to, and then race them however you'd like. Race on foot, in cars, fly -- even rac...
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Disney Infinity's Pirates of the Caribbean gets shown off


Give me Darkwing Duck instead!
May 10
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Confession time: I'm super giddy for Disney Infinity. I love the concept, and I actually want to waste money on a bunch of dumb toys. That's of course if they bring in classic Disney stuff. I'm talking about things like Duck...
Disney Infinity photo
Disney Infinity

The inspiration behind Disney Infinity


Do whatever you want!
Apr 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
This brand new Disney Infinity trailer showcases the game, and details how the team were inspired to create their take on toys and videogames coming together. Basically, they stole all their ideas from little kids. Those dir...
Epic Mickey 2 photo
Epic Mickey 2

Epic Mickey 2 coming to the PlayStation Vita


Because everyone wanted this
Mar 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Disney Movies UK Twitter account revealed that Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be heading to the PlayStation Vita sometime this year. No other info was revealed, but we've reached out to Disney and will have more for...

Interview: Disney Infinity's John Blackburn on toys

Jan 18 // Allistair Pinsof
Does watching your kids play affect your work? When we went out to Pixar the first time -- this was for Toy Story 3 -- they did a short 20-min presentation on what the storyline for Toy Story 3 would be and in that there was a little bit of Andy playing with his toys. When we left, we started looking at how our own kids play. Particularly my kids. They play this game where they have their castle, they have their stuffed animals, and they got these Geomags that they put together The animals come out and attack the castle, and then these Geomags become cages for these animals they got, but they also then bring completely different toys as they play. It's a type of game they play, but they are creating a new story every time they do it. Our idea behind this -- in watching them -- was like, most of the gameplay is in the setup of this. They set up this huge thing in their mind, and they are telling each other about the setup as they go, and we are like, if we can get to that, that's what they are actually enjoying. Before they knock everything over, it's that moment when they are creating this new scenario that they get to play. [embed]242501:46428[/embed] Did you design this game thinking, "This is what my kids will enjoy?" or, "This is what I would enjoy playing with them?" It's a little bit of both. When we first started working with [Pixar CCO] John Lasseter, we pitched him an idea, "You know, we are going to put in some more girl-based gameplay in here," and he's like, "No, no, no! Go make gameplay that you guys want to play!" So we got into this whole philosophy like the guys at Pixar who are like, "We make movies for ourselves. We don't make movies for a demographic in mind. We make a movie we want to see, and kids happen to enjoy those. The reason it's funny to parents is because it's a movie for us. Now go do the same thing here. That's how you're going to be successful. Go make a game that you want to play that is deep enough that you want to play and make it easy enough for kids to play too." And so, we feel like we are going out on two different levels here. As a parent, I love making content that I can play with my kid, so that's really what we have in mind. I want to be having fun while they are having fun. We are doing two different things, but that's what makes it special. For multiplayer, do you have any sort of systems that will guide players and tell them "you might get along with this person"? We don't do matchmaking on the online portion of the game. This is something that is potentially a safety concern. As a parent and a consumer, I want to know when my child goes to play this, they will be safe. We only allow players to play with people already on their friends list that already know you. There will be no generic matchmaking. How are you going to moderate what gets uploaded? Are there any hard rules? There are absolutely hard rules. There are two different things: There is safety, but we also think about appropriateness in content. That's what we are really concerned about when someone submits something to us. You cannot share something with your friend unless you are in a room with a friend, sharing it with them at that point in time. We really can't moderate content in that way. It is cool because it's drop-in, drop-out. You can create something for an hour, invite to a room, and then boom. I'm there and we download the whole thing. It's very easy to share. But when you are talking about "I saved a file and I'm going to try to share that experience," that will go through a moderating process with Disney and us. We go through and moderate those things. We are looking at this more as a curative content process, where we display the best content and give back to the community. So there will be an ever-expanding body of content there, but the idea behind that is appropriate for a Disney audience. One of the fun things about Halo's Forge mode is that you can kind of break the game, mess with the physics and such. How did you approach limiting or not limiting what players can do in Toy Box? When we designed it, there was definitely a lot of inspiration that came out of some of those other experiences. I mean, Halo 4 was actually one of the ones where it was amazing that my kids could play it for hours and yet they really don't have anything in mind -- they aren't trying to build a level. They are exploring what you can do. That's really the same kind of mentality you get into with this, so we've gone back and forth in the design process in how restrictive we want to be. Should we go more toward usability and restrictiveness, or should we go towards free play and let you get yourself in a tough spot that may be harder to get out of -- we've actually gone in that direction. We think it's more fun. In a way, causing that problem is sometimes the objective. My kids would sometimes grab me and say, "Oh dad, watch this. it's really cool that you can do this." A total bug, but it was fun. The goal is to be entertained. At the end of the day, we want you to play the way you want to play. So we really want to reduce the number of rules. A developer demoing Toy Box mode was telling me that he enjoys it because he's good at the game and he can create real difficult levels with it, as opposed to the more elementary story missions. It's funny because we both watch kids play and then we play ourselves. We go through and as adults, nine times out of ten, we have these conflicts that get going between people, but you lose track of your objective really quickly. If we go in and tell kids go build a castle together, some kids that are rule-followers will go build it, but then there will be some other kid that is like, "Look at all this crap you can pull out of the Toy Box!" and [they] start bringing those things out and experimenting with them, and that's part of the fun too. That's part of why you are building a big toy collection: How many things can you bring, and how many experiences can you have playing with them? I really feel like it's a kind of new gameplay pattern I haven't seen at this level before. Forge had it a little bit, but that wasn't the intention behind Forge. This actually is the intention. The sky is the limit. Let's see how many things we can do. Can you detail how the mobile and handheld versions will differ? The 3DS is a very different experience. They memory can't handle all that stuff, so technologically we couldn't do the same thing there. It's more of a game you expect on a 3DS: You build teams with characters and they each have a mini-game that comes along with them. You can go and build out the different play fields that you'll go through with your team, so there is a strategy component when you play with someone else. The mobile versions are actually more attuned to touch controls. We aren't ready to share that yet, but it will be tied to the economy and the experience with all the characters you have. We'll leave that it at that. PC version will be the same, but you use web codes to unlock. With Lucas and Marvel, is there anything down the line and will there ever be a non-Disney collaboration? This is my favorite question as a developer [laughs]. I hope so! There have been discussions about that, but it's above my level in the company. Everyone looks at this and says, "Wow, you can add a whole bunch of cool stuff in here," but we need to make sure it's right for the brands, right for the players, and right for everyone that loves those properties too.
Disney Infinity Interview photo
"The sky is the limit"
An hour after taking the stage to unveil Disney Infinity, "Disney's most ambitious video game initiative ever" (a press release states), I sat down with Avalanche Studios chief creative officer John Blackburn to discuss where...

Disney Infinity photo
Disney Infinity

Here's the deal with Disney Infinity's price and versions


Get ready for welfare bread
Jan 16
// Allistair Pinsof
If you could somehow combine the addictiveness of micro-transactions with the uncertainty of card packs, you'd probably make a lot of money. Disney is going to make a lot of money. Just a hunch. In June, Disney Infinity, Aval...

Preview: Unload your new toy chest with Disney Infinity

Jan 16 // Allistair Pinsof
Disney Infinity (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Mobile, Wii , Wii U, Xbox 360)Developer: Avalanche SoftwarePublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: June 2013 Here's a general rule I have when previewing a game, one that investors (only the ones who play games) would be wise to adopt: If I have to use more than three games as a basis of comparison to describe an upcoming title, then it's something special but not necessarily something good. A game that does everything yet pleases no one is an ambitious mess. With only a limited demo and no hands-on time, I can't accurately state where Infinity falls between these two extremes -- one being a fun creative stroke of innovation and the other an incomprehensible turd -- but that the explanation doesn't begin and end with "Skylanders rip-off" is an achievement in and of itself. (For the short version of what makes Infinity special, jump to **** below.) [embed]242485:46370[/embed] I'm glad I'm not doing PR for this game It's awesome that long-standing Disney developer Avalanche Software isn't settling for a Skylanders clone. It's also awesome that it's not my job to sell this game and ensure its success. A 45-minute presentation for a family title should be overkill, but it felt as if Disney only scraped the surface during Infinity’s reveal at Los Angeles's El Capitan Theater, leaving many questions unanswered and seemingly deep aspects only teased. Though the game can only be played co-op with players on your friends list, there are some MMO roots to Infinity's design: The game is composed of isolated, property-specific worlds. Emphasis is placed on unlocking gear and attire. You acquire new stuff through real-world purchases (though it doesn't follow the traditional pay-for-currency model of MMOs) Participation ranges from hand-to-hand combat to exploring a large area by boat. Perhaps MMO is the wrong genre to compare it to, but there certainly isn't a right one. Hack 'n slash action in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, creeping across campus in a Monster University stealth mission, platforming across a series of death traps a friend uploaded, trying to break the game's physics with three friends in Toy Box mode -- you can't explain Infinity's design any easier than you can explain how children play with their toys. It begins with emptying out every single thing onto the bedroom floor, G.I. Joes prodding out from beneath the sprawl of Ninja Turtles and Smurfs figurines, hoping something fun will follow. Where to begin No two players may have the same takeaway from Infinity, but all players will experience the same beginning. The intro opens with Jack Sparrow -- re-stylized in the pastel colors, saucer eyes, and vaguely Korean character design look that graces all Disney characters in Infinity -- rowing a boat through a pirate town under cannonball fire. After accepting a mission quest to rescue Gibbs, Infinity throws a series of tried-and-true mechanics at you: ground pound for an area-of-effect attack, cling and jump along ledges, fire a pistol at a locked gate, and always, always, always follow the big persistent purple arrow. To be fair, the game has a tasteful HUD that hides elements and contextualizes them in the world, such as a Blur-like health bar that temporarily appears around the player. Upon rescuing Gibbs, you are offered other islands and worlds to explore. Completion rewards the player with a ship for purchase in the toy kiosk at the center of town, a constant landmark across the game's worlds. With the coins acquired from defeating enemies and hitting the crap out of barrels, one mighty pirate ship can be purchased and boarded. From there, you can jump into a different section of the game (Pirates, The Incredibles, and Monsters University were shown off), play around in Toy Box, or customize your seaworthy vessel with items you acquired from red capsules hidden throughout. A new sail here, a fresh coat of paint there, and you're ready to island hop or have a naval battle. If a friend happens to join you, they can help man the cannons or go on their own adventure elsewhere in the world (without breaking the split-screen play). The Disney chokehold This is the company that had the government rewrite copyright law so it can hold onto its empire until the Earth enters the next ice age. While I can't say I ever met an unhappy Disney employee, the company itself has a habit of biting its own tail, and this is perfectly on display in Infinity. Avalanche Studios seems to be wholly content and grateful to be tied to such an ambitious project after many years of making games timed to movie releases. For an outsider, it wasn't hard to tell that Avalanche isn't being given the keys to the kingdom. I also get the sense it isn't being given the trust or freedom it needs to make Infinity a home run success, either. Looking beyond the elephant in the room (i.e. "Will Marvel or Lucas characters appear in the game?" Avalanche developers smiling, nodding, and saying, "We'll see."), it's baffling that Infinity's main concept is bringing the many worlds of Pixar and Disney together, yet no mission in the game will allow characters from another property to enter. There is an argument to be made that Monsters Inc. characters entering Pirates in the Caribbean may be out of character and a ham-fisted maturation of the property. That argument can be ended by pointing out that anything and everything is possible with the game's assets in Toy Box (read on below). If Disney was hoping I wouldn't notice the almost complete absence of classic Disney animated characters and expected that platypus from TV series Phineas and Ferb to fit right in with Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story, Disney is mistaken. So far, appearances from animated Disney films has been limited to minor aspects in the game world that can be applied in Toy Box. These range from the mundane (the Cave of Wonder's tiger entrance from Aladdin) to the fantastic (can I get a heck yeah for the inclusion of Tron's Recognizers?). Moderating player uploads and limiting players to only connecting with those on their friends list are to be expected. Limiting Avalanche's Toy Box, and in effect the player's, to only recent Disney CG properties -- really, who wants Bolt and Frankenweenie before The Lion King and Mulan? -- makes it appear as if Disney doesn't have a great deal of confidence in Avalanche to handle its top-tier properties, and it makes me wonder why. More importantly, it makes me wonder if the game will feel incomplete upon release, not fully making good on its grand concept of representing a child's play box where CHARACTERS from DIFFERENT PROPERTIES can PLAY TOGETHER. Right? Perhaps the rest is yet to come in a conveniently timed to E3 reveal. Let's hope. Once more into the toy chest I don't have kids, I don't adopt kids, I don't kidnap kids, and I don't have any young relatives or siblings. I am part of a demographic that isn't Disney's bread and butter. The same can be said of most game journalists, which is probably why Disney offered beer by the crate and dessert at 10am during the event. Such indulgent treats weren't necessary when Avalanche has an ace up its sleeve with Toy Box.****Hey, you found your way down here. Good to see you again!****Whether the included linear missions and secluded worlds are the origin or late additions of Infinity, it is Toy Box that realizes the game's namesake. Inspired by Avalanche's previous work on Toy Story 3, Infinity's revamped Toy Box mode is a hodgepodge of popular commercial level building sets. It's "Disney Forge" mode. It's "LittleDisneyPlanet." It's "Disneycraft." It's all those things and whatever else players will make it to be. At its simplest, Toy Box is a place where three players can join online and goof around, settle “What if?” scenarios between Mr. Incredible and Buzz Lightyear, build impossible obstacle courses, or construct a world that can be called home out of parts from 20+ Disney franchises. At its most complex, Toy Box can become a toolset that allows players to create puzzles via a logic editor that connects triggers to the environment, reposition the camera to make a traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer, or recreate Bowser's Castle from Mario Kart for others to race on. Toy Box is the one place where all of Infinity's items, art assets, and heroes come together to form a virtual space for kids to break, explore, build, and share. Combine all this with plans to run community contests, like one centered around building the craziest castle, and introductory templates and blueprints to ease players in, and Infinity has a real chance of presenting lessons learned from Halo’s Forge mode, Minecraft, and LittleBigPlanet to a younger and possibly wider audience. And all of this for the price of ... SCUMBAG GAME JOURNALIST turns to developer, who is explaining how to spend coins to purchase in-game items, and says with a smirk, "So, you can also buy those coins with real world money, right?" "No." That would be too obvious for Disney, which has a far more insidious plan. If Disney's plan comes together, it could create a perfect storm that will make the Elmopocalypse of 1997, Furbygeddon of 1998, and Skylanders drought of 2011 look like small footnotes in hungry-consumers-turned-stampeding-angry-parents history. Here's how you do it: You take Skylander's base reader and well-crafted figurine collectibles, then you add a third slot to the reader (the second slot is for a second player) which unlocks items, custom packs, buffs, and abilities, and finally -- this one is the real kicker -- you offer those franchise-specific tokens through blind purchase packs that leave kids frustrated over getting Frankenweenie for the fifth time and parents without any money to spend on Grandma come Christmas time. Like I said, it's insidious but not without a dash of genius on top. Whether you think it's better or worse than a pay-to-play structure, this aspect of collectible tokens and figurines brings the whole toy box concept full circle. Kids at playgrounds will make sacred trades, covet the impossibly rare Howard the Duck costume pack (not real), and become increasingly giddy each time they spill out the contents of their virtual toy chest onto their private play space -- one that may contain the iconic Disney castle in the background and Wreck-It Ralph's Sugar Rush track in the foreground. But it's also a space where memories can be made, not unlike the ones I made on a living room floor, once upon a time. Just don't expect to see Ariel make out with a facehugger.
Disney Infinity preview photo
Create, collect, go into debt
There's not a lot I remember about the rampant imagination of childhood, but most of the good memories came from the depths of my toy chest. Pitting Aliens against Transformers. Imagining Cloud Strife's sword slicing throu...

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Disney revealing new Infinity initiative next month


What can it be?!
Dec 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
We received a super fancy invite from Disney today inviting us to the unveiling of the Disney Infinity initiative. The event will be taking place on January 15, and will see Disney co-president, John Pleasants, plus Disney an...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

Nov 24 // Tony Ponce
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)Developer: DreamRift, Junction PointPublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: November 18, 2012MSRP: $39.99 As explained in the original Epic Mickey, Disney characters who are forgotten are sent to live out the rest of their days in the Wasteland. Some try to make the most of their unfortunate situation, but others are none to happy to be discarded. Such is the fate of Castle of Illusion's villainess Mizrabel, and she conspires to escape the Wasteland by any means necessary. Her motivations actually threatens to give the plot an iota of depth, but of course they're never explored further. To achieve her goal, Mizarbel needs Heart Power collected from famous Toons. She is somehow able to drain the essence of beloved Disney icons like Snow White and Simba, trapping them inside her castle and using illusory magic to reflect the Toons' home worlds. So instead of visiting rundown Disney theme park attractions, Mickey will get to explore notable locales like Never Land, Agrabah, and Atlantica. Screens and video do not lie: this is a beautiful game. From the detailed environments to the smooth sprite animations, DreamRift did a fantastic job capturing the bright and colorful Disney style. Each stage features around four parallax layers, and when you flip the 3D slider on, the background simply pops. [embed]239231:45887[/embed] The music is equally rich, with crisp, original orchestrations inspired by the source films. Better still, a small number of tracks are revamped versions of Castle of Illusion tunes. In the first level, you hear a rendition of the forest theme; in the shop, a variation of the interstitial music plays; and in the final showdown against Mizrabel, there's a dark twist on the boss theme. Seriously, I got goosebumps when I heard those nostalgic melodies. Mickey's repertoire includes his signature butt stomp from Castle of Illusion and melee, paint, and thinner attacks from Epic Mickey. All his attributes can then be upgraded in Scrooge McDuck's shop by spending E-Tickets. In a similar fashion to DreamRift's previous title, Monster Tale, you can string attack combos to juggle enemies even after they've been defeated; the more you keep them airborne, the more health and E-Tickets they'll drop. It's a clever way to reward players for laying an excessive beatdown. The big gameplay hook is the use of the touchscreen to paint or thin out objects or characters highlighted on the touchscreen. For example, if a gap is too wide to clear by jumping, you might notice the outline of a bridge on the bottom screen. Tapping it with the stylus initiates a mini-game of sorts where you must trace the outline of the object as accurately as possible, and how well you stay in the lines determines the "effectiveness" of the resulting object. Having to manually draw each one of these paintable objects absolutely kills game flow. I didn't mind it so much the first few times, but the novelty quickly turned to annoyance. This is especially true in segments where you have to paint or thin out several objects in quick succession, such as in the boss battle against Jafar, where he keeps destroying the floor and you have to keep drawing it back in. This mandates that you always have the stylus at the ready, either on a nearby surface or awkwardly wedged between your index finger and the edge of the 3DS. The effectiveness grading doesn't even matter all that much. If you get an "okay," your floating platform might have a spike at the tip that you should avoid touching. If you get a "perfect," your cannon won't disappear after firing three times. Yet there's never a situation where you need the best possible object around, and unless you wildly draw outside the lines, you're always at least going to get an average rating. It's just an exhausting exercise. If I may bring up Monster Tale once again, that game only required simple taps on the touchscreen to feed your critter or direct it to attack. I would have much preferred if Power of Illusion adopted that system, so that a simple tap of the finger was all it took to create or destroy an object. Leave the precision drawing to key events. Before each level, you fill slots on a loadout bar with Sketches, items that you can spawn at any time as long as you have enough paint. Such items include temporary invincibility, Tinkerbell's pixie dust for a slower rate of descent, and the Scrooge McDuck summon in which he'll bounce around the screen on his cane like in DuckTales on NES. Unfortunately, you have to go through the whole rigamarole of painting a Sketch to use it, and with the exception of a floating platform that you can place anywhere you want, none of the items are all that helpful. There's a treasure chest that generates random items, but it's pointless when enemy drop rates are so high to begin with. Even the attack summons -- sorry, Scrooge -- are quite ineffective at clearing the screen of foes. Throughout the worlds are Disney characters in need of rescue. Once you've saved them, they'll take residence in individual rooms inside the Fortress, your home base between levels. By spending acquired upgrade stars or completing optional side quests, you can spruce up their rooms to look like scenes out of their home films. Some quests are as simple as painting a requested object right then and there. In others, you play errand boy between residents of the Fortress, such as obtaining a threading needle from Rapunzel so Wendy can stitch Peter Pan's shadow back in place. It's really quite amusing to see these characters interact outside of their individual universes. Then there are quests that send you back to previously cleared stages in order to rescue characters or locate treasure chests that weren't there on your first pass. Since you can't exit from the menu in the middle of a level without losing all you current progress, you have to play through the entire stage again, even if whatever you are looking for is near the start. In fact, it's not uncommon to have to return to a level three times or more! The only purpose that the lack of a proper "escape" function serves is to artificially lengthen the game, a truth that didn't really sink in until my adventure abruptly stopped. See, there are only three worlds in total, yet I'm certain that four were originally planned. Each world is located in the East, West, and South Wings of the castle -- isn't it's only logical that there ought to be a North Wing as well? If you look at the game's box art, which I've used as this review's header image, you'll notice four villains -- Captain Hook, Jafar, Ursula, and the Queen of Hearts -- peeking out of doorways leading to their respective realms. Neither the Queen of Hearts nor Wonderland appear in the game; in fact, the final box art was altered slightly, replacing the Queen with the non-villainous Mad Hatter. If there was to be a fourth world, it must have been removed very late in development. That's not all. Both the Peter Pan and Aladdin worlds feature four levels followed by a battle against that film's antagonist. However, The Little Mermaid world ends after only three levels, and you never fight Ursula. Rather, you find her just hanging out in the water and rescue her like any other character. The room to the final battle with Mizrabel opens immediately after completing that third level -- it's as though the game is saying, "Eh, that's enough." For what it's worth, I think DreamRift did a remarkable job regardless of the shortcomings. Like the original Epic Mickey, there's a lot of love for Disney history, and like Monster Tale, there's a solid action platformer at its core. It's just a shame that various design decisions, both intended and possibly not, threw a major spanner in the works. Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is beautiful to look at. It's also quite obviously unfinished. The building blocks of the ultimate Mickey Mouse game are here, but we'll have to wait yet another day to see that vision become reality.
Power of Illusion Review photo
Poor unfortunate souls
As a Sega Genesis child, the news that Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was going to be a spiritual sequel to Castle of Illusion sent me into a fit of joy spasms. Considering how tedious the original Epic Mickey was, my ...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Nov 17 // Jim Sterling
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, Wii U)Developer: Junction Point StudiosPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosRelease: October 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Taking place after the events of the original Wii title, this sequel promises to be bigger and better, yet retreads old ground and does nothing to address the legitimate complaints players had last time. Even worse, those few tiny areas in which Epic Mickey 2 attempts new things only contribute to making the overall product worse.  The sequel's story sees Epic Mickey's Mad Doctor return, now claiming to be a good guy and winning favor with the Cartoon Wasteland's leader, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In a plot that grows exponentially inane and contrived with each step forward, Mickey finds himself returning to the realm of forgotten Disney characters, teaming up with Oswald in order to resolve the vaguely defined conflict that we're supposed to care about because somebody told us it matters.  This time around, the game is fully voiced, but this is one of the aforementioned new features that help make things worse. The voice acting is universally dreadful, with exuberant squawking and simpering from heroes and villains alike. You may have been fooled by marketing into thinking that Epic Mickey 2 is a musical, but it's not. The only character to really sing is the Mad Doc, in a running joke that stops being funny after the first cutscene, especially since the voice actor's gravelly tones grate on the ears and the tunes themselves come across as awkwardly forced. Only one scene in the game feels like a real musical number, and even then, it's hardly memorable.  [embed]238026:45659[/embed] Gameplay is largely preserved from the original Wii title, and using a traditional controller feels like a notable downgrade. For non-Wii versions, you'll be using the right stick to aim a targeting reticule around the screen, making it perform like a third-person shooter despite the camera, controls, and interface framing themselves around a traditional 3D platform game. As you attempt to move and fire, the camera regularly shifts the reticule away from the target, and the way in which the screen moves independently of Mickey's firing line makes combat uncomfortable and difficult to visually process. It's something I don't think I ever quite got used to.  Once again, Mickey is armed with both paint and thinner, which he uses to remove or add pre-determined elements to the world. He can also use thinner to destroy monsters, or paint to turn them friendly. It's a system that never expands, isn't exploited in any clever way, and generally removes a sense of tactility and interaction with the world. Spraying paint at an enemy just isn't very satisfying, especially when it's such a struggle to keep the stuff on target as the opponents run wildly around and the camera does its best to disorient combatants.  Gameplay is divided into action-platformer sequences with light puzzle elements, and 2D sidescrolling levels. Players use the 2D levels, aesthetically inspired by classic Disney shorts, to travel to new areas of the Wasteland, whereupon they'll be required to engage in some fetch-questing and paint-splashing to advance to the next area. Every now and then, tasks can be solved in one of several ways, with a light "moral dilemma" element to them. Such "dilemmas" never really impact the story and seem to exist just to look interesting, rather than be interesting. Neither the 3D or 2D sections last very long, leading to Epic Mickey 2 becoming quite the disjointed affair that rushes its players from one chapter to the next in a maladroit fashion.  In fairness, some of the 2D sections can be quite enjoyable, especially when they take on the appearance of old black-and-white cartoons. As in the original game, these are the standout moments of the adventure. It's just a shame that they're so short, and almost insultingly simple. The levels are never designed with any intricacy, instead providing rudimentary left-to-right progress with a few obligatory obstacles tossed in the way. It's a shame nobody felt like putting more effort into these areas, as they're the only places where potentially compelling gameplay can be found.  Rather than evolve the gameplay in any meaningful way, Junction Point has instead settled on a tired old standby to give the illusion of evolution -- co-op. This time around, Oswald is available as a secondary character in an offline cooperative journey. Instead of paint, Oswald uses a remote control that stuns enemies or powers various machines appearing in Epic Mickey 2's trite little puzzle challenges. He can also use his ears like propeller blades, ferrying Mickey across chasms in a manner similar to Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  Co-op is not something to be ignored, and my advice to you is that, if you insist on playing this game, you do so with a human partner at your side. Relying on the CPU to control Oswald is a big mistake, as his A.I. is pathetic and regularly works to sabotage a solo player's progress. Left to his own devices, Oswald would rather run around worthlessly than actually help, choosing to attack enemies only at random and often preferring to scurry about in circles or let himself get hit. At times, he'll disappear from the game entirely, respawning on a whim. Pressing a button to call him over only seems to work half of the time.  He'll activate machinery only when he feels like it, and he has an awful time following Micky through sections that involve jumping on multiple raised platforms. One particularly nasty area requires both players to scale a wall, at the top of which Oswald is supposed to glide both heroes across to another ledge. Oswald simply refused to climb up that wall when I tried it, and disappeared into thin-air whenever Mickey reached the top. Only after multiple attempts did I manage to somehow trick Oswald into jumping up there. That is how you deal with Oswald as a solo player. You have to fool him into doing what he's meant to do. On other occasions, Oswald played an active role in getting me hurt or killed. If there are ledges that sink into deadly lakes of thinner when stood on, you can bet that Oswald will stand right on the thing and let it sink. At other times, he would jump into me and knock me into the thinner. Perhaps worst of all was a certain boss that Oswald kept saying he'd distract (constantly, because all dialog loops incessantly), so that Mickey could squirt paint at its back. This tactic soon fell apart when it became clear that "distraction" meant "follow Mickey around so the boss is always facing the player."  And for what? What is so good about co-op that it was worth rendering single-player so unbearable? Nothing. Just a few shoehorned, old-fashioned, enforced cooperative moments where both players have to pull switches, or Mickey holds something open so that Oswald can zap it. The kind of conceited co-op banality that has been injected violently into any sort of game desperate enough to want a popular feature listed on the back of the box but remains too lazy to make that feature do anything meaningful. This kind of crap should not be tolerated anymore.  As noted, the camera is about as unhelpful as Oswald is. Not only does it try and remain in a fixed perspective at all times, it's almost always set at some terrible angle that gives an unclear view of the surroundings. The interface is also dreadful, with both the action and jump commands bound to the same button. This leads to Mickey constantly jumping whenever the player wants him to grab an item or open the many doors that lead to various pointless shops or item-gathering sidequests. Mickey himself is slow, his jumps are pitiful, and his attacks have no precision -- especially notable for enemies that require use of thinner and head-stomps, something the uncoordinated, sluggish mouse isn't properly equipped for.  The Power of Two is a consistently annoying experience. From block puzzles that boast despicable floaty physics to NPC and tutorial dialog that repeats itself obnoxiously, one could be forgiven for thinking that Epic Mickey 2 was designed as a means of interactive psychological torture, built to exasperate enemies of the state into lunacy. Between its unfunny humor, unsatisfyingly brief levels, broken co-op A.I., petulant camera and grotesque voice acting, Epic Mickey 2 is the kind of game that drives sane people mad, and mad people sane.  It can at least be said that the game looks good. It still has the distinctly cute visuals that drive home the missed potential of the original idea, but the bright colors and unmistakable Disney aesthetic look a lot better on an HD console than it did on the Wii. The nostalgic 2D levels bring a measure of obscure charm to the experience, and may be worth seeing for those willing to put up with the suffering required to get there. You'd have to be an insanely loyal Mickey fan, though. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two does nothing to improve itself over its predecessor, repeating old ideas while refusing to fix problems that are glaringly obvious to even the least tasteful of dolts. Anything added in the sequel has been done so to the its overall detriment -- the voice acting grates, the musical pretensions are vapid, and the cooperative schtick is corny, strained, and a total intrusion for solo play that slows progress, causes trouble, and does not bloody work.  At least Epic Mickey felt fresh enough that some of its faults could be overlooked by the more forgiving of players. The Power of Two has no such charm to hide behind. It's a gormless, chafing, unquestionably horrid little waste of time. Only the hardcore Disney obsessive need look into this one, and I don't advise they look too deeply.
Epic Mickey 2 photo
Fault Disney
Epic Mickey is easily among the more tragic wastes of potential we've seen in the videogame industry. It first whipped fans into a frothy lather of excitement when concept images were shown, displaying a twisted and macabre t...

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SmileGate developing Marvel MOBA for Asia


Codenamed Project PK
Nov 09
// Jordan Devore
You're already dreaming up the possibilities, aren't you? A multiplayer online battle arena game centered around Marvel characters sounds too good to be true -- and perhaps it is -- but it's happening. Disney Interactive has ...
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The DTOID Show's Halloween Special! Gaming News! OoOoO!


Boo.
Oct 31
// Max Scoville
Happy Halloween everyone! On today's SPOOKTACULAR episode of The Destructoid Show, we talk about some festively spooky video game stuff. Because we didn't report on it enough this week, Grand Theft Auto V is coming out t...
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Warren Spector and I are totally best friends now


You guys wish you could be me
Oct 14
// Tony Ponce
I failed to mention that, immediately following the Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion preview event last month, Warren Spector led all the journalists on a tour through Magic Kingdom. We went on the Magic Carpet, Haunted...

Preview: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is pure magic

Sep 24 // Tony Ponce
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)Developer: DreamRift, Junction PointPublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: November 18, 2012 The story behind Power of Illusion's existence is just as incredible as the game itself. Sitting in that meeting room with all the other press members, I tuned in as Warren Spector recounted how DreamRift became involved with the Epic Mickey universe. In case it isn't public knowledge by now, the original Epic Mickey is officially the best-selling, single-platform software title in Disney's history, ensuring that the sequel would be getting the full five-star treatment. Junction Point has been working hard to get Epic Mickey 2 running as many platforms as possible -- Wii, Wii U, PS3, 360, PC, and Mac -- but Warren insisted that the 3DS should receive something a little extra special instead of a straight port. With resources spread thin, it was time to shop for outside help. Without knowing what they were applying for, several studios familiar with handheld development pitched potential concepts. DreamRift's pitch was for a game in which you drew objects on the touchscreen in order to spawn them up top. The idea meshed so well with Epic Mickey's paint-and-thinner mechanic that Warren immediately brought the fledgling company on board. Epic Mickey was about honoring the forgotten characters and films of Disney animation lore. On the flip side, Power of Illusion is about honoring forgotten elements of Disney videogame history! It was only fitting that Power of Illusion would be based one such game from Mickey's past -- Castle of Illusion. As much as I love Castle, I wondered why it was specifically chosen to be Power's base versus another title from the Illusion series or even from the Magical Quest series on Super Nintendo. Peter Ong's response is perhaps the greatest thing ever: The simple answer is a very selfish reason. Although I deeply respect and like a lot of the 16- and 8-bit platformers that came out on the Genesis and SNES from Disney, Castle of Illusion in particular is one that I hold a biased and intimate connection with, in that it was a game that, when I was a kid, I bought. And I didn't get to buy that many games, being a kid with no income, so I was fortunate enough to buy one of the greatest games of all time and play it for half a year or more... before I REALLY became obsessed with it! That's how long it took me before I could beat it in a day, guaranteed. And for about a year after that, I would beat the game every single day! I spent a lot of my childhood playing that game! That there, my friends, is some straight-up Jiminy Cricket, "Wish Upon a Star" shit! As the story goes, the evil witch Mizrabel and her Castle of Illusion have faded from people's memory, thus both have wound up in the Wasteland. She hatches a plan to capture beloved Disney toons who still exist in the real world in order to drain them of "Heart Power," the key to escaping the Wasteland. She alters parts of her castle to resemble these toons' home worlds, so unlike in the first Epic Mickey, you'll be exploring environments based on popular movies and meeting extremely familiar characters. On an interesting note, Mizrabel on the Genesis looked similar to the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Early in Power, she demonstrates the ability to assume the guise of any Disney villain, though her favorite form is that of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, which explains her current appearance. As Chad explained in his preview, the connection to Castle is quite strong. Mickey's gait is similar, he performs the same butt stomp attack (with the same Genesis sound effect, no less!), and he encounters the same low-level mushroom critters. Best of all, the music in the opening area is an orchestral arrangement of Castle's forest theme! When I heard it, I let out such a mirthful laugh that one of the demonstrators walked on over to ask what was so funny! Of course, elements from the first Epic Mickey have been incorporated, such as the spin attack, the ability to defeat enemies with paint or thinner, and E-tickets to use as currency. If you notice a shadow or a glowing object on the touchscreen, you can tap it to create or erase it on the main screen. Using the stylus, you trace the object as best as you can, and the higher your rating, the more effective the object will be and the more your special meter will fill up. These drawing / erasing segments are my only area of concern so far. Often there will be many interactive objects you'll have to manipulate, such as blocks that must be removed from the paths of a sequence of Mickey-launching cannons. While you doodle, the main action is paused, interrupting the game flow. Plus, it pretty much necessitates having the stylus ready at all times. But I didn't let that sour my experience, especially not my enjoyment of the beautiful environments with layers upon layers of parallax planes. The game is so rich and beautiful because Disney gave DreamRift access to the original movie art files! I'm talking source materials with the original animators' notes still on them! The team could pretty much use almost anything from the Disney Vault. Speaking of the Disney Vault... it exists! Can you believe it? I assumed it was nothing more than a marketing myth, but no! It's a massive archive that preserves anything deemed of significance, even artists' pencil and eraser shavings! Just thought you'd like to know! Anyway, the most prominent feature of Power -- the one that Warren has always wanted to include in his games but was always forced to cut -- is the Fortress, where rescued toons set up camp, hang out, and offer you quests and other goodies. Throughout your adventure, you'll encounter characters like Goofy, Wendy Darling, Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and yes, Scrooge McDuck. In the Fortress, you can upgrade their rooms to better match an iconic scene from their original films or shows, and as you rescue them, you'll earn "Heart Power" that Oswald can use to unlock new levels. One other gift that rescued toons offer is their service as support characters. You can equip them as "sketches" on a pre-level loadout, then you can spawn them at any time by tracing their outline on the touchscreen. For example, when you summon Scrooge, he'll perform the pogo bounce from DuckTales on the NES! That one earned another joyous chuckle from me! Until now, we've only been exposed to the Peter Pan world, which encompasses the London skies, Neverland, Captain Hook's Jolly Roger, and so on. For this preview, the West Wing of the castle was accessible, granting entry into the Aladdin world. You can run through the streets of Agrabah, explore the Cave of Wonders, and even meet Mr. Diamond-in-the-Rough himself. Another cool thing I failed to mention is that these illusory worlds are in a constant state of flux. In other words, you can be strolling through the Agrabah market only to discover a dimensional fissure where pieces of the castle's interior peek through. One minute you are hopping across quicksand, the next minute you are standing upon solid marble tiling. It's a very nice touch. Before production began, Warren and Peter compiled a massive list of Disney elements they wanted to incorporate in the game. After Disney crossed out a few suggestions, there was still enough leftover to fill roughly 20 individual titles! The issue then became "How will we narrow our scope to meet a realistic target?" instead of "How will we make the most of our limited allowances?" That's not a bad "problem" to have at all, plus it leaves room for a sequel! Mickey-Oswald co-op à la World of Illusion, anyone? Aside from my concerns regarding the drawing mechanic, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is shaping up to be a dream game in more ways than one. I say "shaping up," but development is basically done. We're just sitting on our hands until November 18 by this point. I was hoping this event would temporarily sate my hunger. I was so wrong.
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