Disney Interactive has announced Disney Infinity, an "interactive gaming platform" consisting of several multiplatform games that will coalesce into one big game, sort of.
The way it works is each playable character is tethered to a physical figurine that needs to be plugged into a port ala Skylanders. Though unlike Activision's mega-hit, Disney Infinity goes one step further by allowing each property to have its own game: though it doesn't appear that these will be sold individually.
Instead, players buy sets of figurines and each character can enter their respective world or "Play Set." The Play Sets can only be accessed by characters from their particular franchises. Initially players will buy a starter pack containing Sulley, Captain Jack Sparrow and Mr. Incredible (though up to 20 characters will be available at launch).
These will grant access to the Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Incredibles Play Sets. The Incredibles' Play Set looks to be an open world beat-'em-up where players choose which superhero they want to play as, Monsters University pits Mike and Sulley against a rival college where players must lay traps to protect their school from pranksters while sneaking about to pull off some pranks of their own, and Pirates of the Caribbean is an open world adventure that's a mix between seafaring and exploring exotic islands.
While each Play Set is pretty much its own game they do have some things in common. They're all available in up to four-player multiplayer with both local and online options. This way players can team up as the Incredible family or have one person steer a ship in Pirates while another mans the cannons.
Another similarity is that they're all extremely customisable. Players can unlock buildings and objects, then customise their own metropolis, university, or pirate ship. One nifty example demonstrated was in Monsters University where players can change the time of day on a whim and different monsters will react differently depending on when you spook them.
By mucking about in each Play Set you'll unlock various pieces of content to be used in what's called the Toy Box. This is an open sandbox where players can create their own world and games. It's a bit Lego-esque, and the options seem intimidatingly open-ended. A demo reel showed someone racing through a recreation of Bowser's Castle from Mario Kart, and the tool kit gets even more advanced where players can create pressure plates to correspond with connected switches, and you can even alter the camera angle to design top-down Zelda-like dungeons or race tracks.
It looks like a lot to take in, but there will be missions in the Toy Box called Infinity Adventures that act as a tutorial of sorts and teach players the basics of building, driving, combat, etc. Amusingly, the aesthetic qualities of these missions change depending on what character embarks upon them. So Jack Skellington will have a gloomier looking race than say, Cinderella.
Naturally players will be able to share content with one another as well as visit each other's Toy Boxes online. There will also be online challenges and developer-hosted contests like who can build the finest representation of Disneyland.
Disney's chief creative officer and Toy Story creator John Lasseter explained that he was initially against the idea of a crossover series, but Toy Story 3: The Game developer Avalanche Software convinced him that by breaking the fourth wall and making each character a toy rather than the actual character it could work.
"The one thing I can't stand is when you take characters from one of our movies - take them out of the story and plop them into something and pull someone else in there," said Lasseter. "Mr. Incredible does not live in the same world as Sulley and Mike. I'm sorry, it just doesn't happen."
"And we [Avalanche Software] start talking about it and he goes, 'But, if you're playing with toys from those movies, then it's just like Andy. Andy's in his room with a toy box and it's full of toys from all kinds of different things and they come together and he plays with them all in a very creative way.'"
"We thought, now that's something cool."
Disney Infinity is slated for June on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, and 3DS. Some mobile connection was mentioned, but details on that were mum.