Disney Infinity, released last year, was Disney’s entry to the toys-that-come-to-life genre, alongside the only other entry: Skylanders. While Skylanders had to build their fan base almost from the ground up, Disney Infinity had the advantage of having a built-in fan base and a veritable slew of characters to draw upon. This year, Disney lets its Marvel characters take the helm with the new Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (aka Disney Infinity 2.0). I strap on my shield, get into my power armour, grab my hammer, sling my webs, and plug in my Awesome Mix vol. 1 to see what the new game is all about.

The Disney Infinity 2.0 starter pack comes with the game, the character platform, three figurines (Thor, Iron Man, and Black Widow), one playset (Avengers Tower), and two hex discs (Escape from the Kyln–an RPG-like set, and Defense of Asgard–a tower defense game). My young 6-year old was undeniably intrigued as I opened and unpacked the set. My 9-year old, somewhat less so, but still feigning disinterest, even as he hovered over my shoulder. I plugged everything in and fired up my console. My 6-year old insisted on placing the figurines and playset on the platform; he insisted on being Iron Man, and he wouldn’t let me play as Thor yet–why does HE get to dictate who I play as?–which left me being Black Widow. And we began to play.

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An adult’s experience of the game is very very different from a child’s, as was clearly evident from watching my sons play versus my actual hands on experience. Personally, I found the playset and expansion discs repetitive and underwhelming. I also found that switching characters, or even simply loading the character into the game, takes unreasonably long. I call it unreasonable, because of how quickly you can swap and change figures in Skylanders. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Thor were having a blast, literally and figuratively. My sons were tearing into frost giants and evil blobby things with more gusto than a penguin attacking…whatever it is penguins attack with any amount of gusto.

All my misgivings fell to the side, however, once I got into the Toy Box mode of Disney Infinity, because this is where all the magic really is. If you’ve not played the first game, then I’ll explain briefly: the Toy Box is a place where you can pretty much create whatever you want, within the realm of what tools and toys the game gives you. Want to create a platform for platform recreation of the Sega Genesis version of Aladdin? Go nuts. Want to create a racing game that takes a whirlwind tour of various Disney franchises? Sure…just don’t forget the loop-de-loops. In fact, as long as you’ve unlocked the content, you’re free to create with it. And this is where I stalled. You have to play the playset and disc games to collect enough coin to buy the toys for the toy box. Very little is actually opened to you from the start. Playing through the Toy Box tutorials gives you access to a stack more toys, but the true catch is this: if you want to unlock every toy and building block in the Toy Box, be prepared to spend a LOT of money on the Disney Infinity figurines and extra playsets.

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The best part of the Toy Box, though, is that you can publish whatever Frankenstein of a creation you’ve concocted to let others experience your genius (or dementedness, if that’s what you’ve a mind toward). If you don’t feel like creating an entire scenario from scratch, there are masses of templates as well, and they’ll help create anything from cities, arenas, and race tracks. In fact, it’s a gigantic leap ahead of the first game’s Toy Box mode in usability and ease of creation. And you can play the creations of others around the world, too, if you feel like you need some inspiration. It seems that every platform, whether PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii, all contribute to the same repository, so there are thousands of toy box creations to play through, and some of them are brilliantly imaginative. The usual sorting mechanisms apply here: recent, most downloaded, developer picks, and so forth. They don’t take long to download, either, so you can jump into a created toy box with relative speed. Faster, in fact, than it takes to load your character into the level. This REALLY bugs me.

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Obviously, if you’ve a Disney fanatic in the house, this game is probably already on your Christmas list. It can get expensive quickly, but because of the figurines, it’s also something that you’ll treasure for longer than you would a regular game. In fact, as you play through the game, you can level up the figurines on a skill tree, and with the level cap of 20, there’s no way to unlock every skill. This makes sure that two of the same figurine are actually seldom the same. Obviously, adult players will find the playsets and power disc games lacking in many respects (and they were built in the Toy Box, I suspect, giving you a taste of what you can do), but this IS a kids’ game, and I’ve noted with some despair the shrinking number of child-friendly games out there. What child doesn’t love Disney or Marvel super heroes? And what child doesn’t love the creative aspect of building? It’s a lot of fun when you start delving into it, and the logic that the game allows you to build with is surprisingly deep and flexible. Really, the only way that this game could be any better is if it were Disney Infinity: Star Wars edition. Until then, Marvel Super Heroes is the next best thing.

Final Score: 8 web slinging, hammer throwing, “prawn smash!”-ing, iron clad prawns out of 10

Detailed Information:
Developer: Avalanche
Publisher: Disney Interactive/Microsoft Studios (Xbox and Windows versions)
Distributor: Prima Interac
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Xbox One, Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Nintendo Wii U, iOS
RRP: Between R699 and R999, version dependent. Figures are R149 to R179, store dependent.
Age Rating: 3+
Website: https://infinity.disney.com/en-gb