By Matt Cabral
A magical mash-up of toys and video games, last year’s “Disney Infinity” made good on its tagline of “Play in their worlds. Create your own.” While its Play Sets unleashed fans in standalone, narratively-driven, universe-expanding stories, its Toy Box mode encouraged them to let the leash off their imaginations to forge their own paths. Thanks to a number of fan-pleasing enhancements and improvements, both of these modes return bigger and better in “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.”
The Play Sets, which we discussed in depth last week, put players behind the super powers of iconic Marvel characters in dedicated adventures that play much like traditional action-adventure games. The Toy Box, on the other hand, tosses out the rule book and lets players do pretty much whatever they please. Given access to a virtual toy chest of characters, vehicles, props, items, terrain pieces, and other digital doo-dads, users can do anything, nothing, or something in between. When unveiling “Disney Infinity” in 2013, Pixar head John Lasseter likened this mode to Andy’s room in “Toy Story,” a place where “creative play” is limited only by the imagination.
As with the Play Sets, the Toy Box requires that one of the physical characters—two if you’re playing with a buddy—be placed on the “Disney Infinity” base. Once alive and kicking in the virtual world, these characters can be controlled in, say, a pick-up game of tag or in much more complex challenges, complete with rule sets and objectives. If you’re more armchair architect than budding game designer, however, you can also use this mode to construct buildings and landscapes. Or you can create your own world and craft games within it. Toss in the ability to play with up to four friends online and potentially have your masterpieces shared with the larger gaming community, and the possibilities become, well, infinite.
While the first “Disney Infinity” Toy Box mode featured this same do-it-yourself approach, more casual players found the freedom a bit intimidating. “Marvel Super Heroes” addresses this with a number of enhancements that promise to make the experience accessible to anyone who wants to run wild in this potential-packed playground. An intuitive interface and new user-friendly features—such as minion-like builders, pre-made templates, and auto-generating tools—make creating your personal games, structures, and adventures as simple as painting with a virtual brush. The sequel also adds the ability to personalize interiors; so, if decorating Captain America’s living space—complete with a star-spangled shield coffee table—is your thing, go for it!
Want to play in the Toy Box, but don’t feel like igniting your creative spark at all? No problem. “Marvel Super Heroes” also introduces Toy Box Game Discs, dedicated mini-games that immediately put you in the action. Contained within six-sided discs— also placed on the base—these standalone experiences take place in the Toy Box, but require zero creative participation on the player’s part. The game’s starter pack comes with a pair of these games, one featuring a Tower Defense-style experience set in Asgard and another that plays like a Marvel-themed dungeon-crawler.
Of course, the coolest thing about Toy Box mode is it allows all characters to play nice together; unlike Play Sets—where only story-specific figures can be used—the Toy Box encourages mingling among all Marvel and Disney friends. Whether you use this opportunity to pit Merida’s archery proficiency against Hawkeye’s arrow-slinging skills or simply create a new team of Avengers that swaps out the Hulk for Mr. Incredible, unlimited possibilities for pixie dust and super powers to collide in cool ways emerge. In fact, all previous Disney Infinity toys will work in the “Marvel Super Heroes” Toy Box.
Players can also plan on using a utility belt full of familiar items from the Marvel Universe; from character-specific vehicles and buildings to smaller props and gadgets, the virtual Toy Box will be brimming with goodies that can be worked into your personalized games and creations. Power Discs—which we’ll dig into next week—as well as items unlocked by tackling Play Set objectives, add even more Marvel-flavored playthings to your virtual toy chest.
There’s plenty of day-saving and do-gooding to be had in “Marvel Super Heroes” dedicated Avengers and Spider-Man Play Sets, but that’s just the beginning. Those looking to take the game to infinity and beyond will want to dive into the Toy Box mode—where you might just find Buzz Lightyear and Iron Man sharing the friendly skies.
Look for more installments in “Understanding Disney Infinity” coming to Marvel.com in anticipation of “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” arriving this fall!