Playstation 3 Game Review “Disney Infinity”

Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Disney Interactive
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
Release Date: August 18, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I have never played “Skylanders” ever. Now, I know the idea behind it having seen the numerous characters available for purchase in stores everywhere. I just never really had an interest in the characters. When I heard though that Disney was releasing basically their task on “Skylanders” with “Disney Infinity”, I was blown away. The universe that Disney has in terms of characters is unbelievable. They have an enormous pool of characters to dip into, I guess that is where the name infinity comes from. The idea of the game is basic but the possibilities are endless. You get the the freedom to play with as of your favorite Disney and Disney/Pixar characters in their respective worlds but like never before. This is not your typical platform game at all. There are several modes to explore starting with my favorite the “Toy Box” mode, which gives you complete customization in the game (more on that below). There are also various play sets to explore including “Monsters University”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Incredibles”, which are included and “Cars” and “The Lone Rangers”, which are sold separately. I am sure that this is only going to be expanded as Disney releases new characters in the coming months.

So to get started with the game you are three three character figures to start with including Sulley from “Monsters University”, Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Mr. Incredible, from “The Incredibles”.  You also receive a play set for each of these characters to play in. You cannot unfortunately cross-over other characters into other play sets, so for example  Sulley from “Monsters University” cannot play in the world of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.  If you want to use your imagination and do that then that would be where the toy box would come in handy (I promise more on that below). Like “Skylanders” (and smart for Disney), you can purchase additional character figures. From “Cars” you can purchase Mater, Lightning McQueen, Holly Shiftwell and Francesco. If you like “Pirates of the Caribbean”, you can get Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones. “The Incredibles” fans can get Dash, Violet, Mrs. Incredible and Syndrome. If you enjoyed “The Lone Ranger”, you can purchase him and Tonto. Lastly, if you liked “Monsters University”, you can get Mike Waszowski and Randall. But like I said that is only the beginning, Disney hasn’t even started tapping into their wealth of characters. See below for future plans for expansion.

“Disney Infinity” is not only ever expanding with its characters but also its content.  Literally the more you play, the more you can  unlock ranging from in-game toys to online content. In the game, you can battle enemies, solve puzzles, overcome obstacles and complete a tons of unique quests. Let’s get to the Toy Box now, during playing the game you will find that you will unlock tons of virtual toys from each play set including characters, buildings, weapons, gadgets and more. You are able to utilize these items and let your imagination go in your own custom toy box. If you want to mix run around in The Grid from “TRON” mixed with “Sugar Rush” from “Wreck-It Ralph”, that is completely possible. There are no rules and you can create any adventure you want. If you want to create sports-themed games such as football games and street races…yep, that is possible. You want to put Buzz Lightyear and Davy Jones face-to-face…yep that is also possible. This is a feature that I have only started to tap into since it is literally a game in its own. This to be is an entirely different world and you can easily spend hours, days, months just lost in the possibilities.

Have you had enough yet? Well, we are not close to being done. “Disney Infinity” also has ability to upgrade your characters in game with the purchase of “Power Discs”. They comes in either Circular or Hexagonal power discs that fit right on the Disney Infinity base under your characters and play sets and it unlocks special powers, classic Disney gadgets, themes and vehicles. The Circular power discs are used to grant special power ups that can be used in both Play Set and Toy Box modes. The Hexagonal power discs unlock special gadgets, vehicles and themes and are use only within Toy Box mode though. You are able to stack up to two Circular power discs or up to three Hexagonal power discs to take advantage of this extra features. There are also disc combos that will give you additional upgrades when combined. They are available for $4.99 for each pack with two disc included per pack.  These are also fun to trade to friends in order to collect all 20 of them. It actually become quite additive in order to get them all.  I found myself obsessed with getting the rare disc but let me tell you they are really worth it.  Being able to fly around your toy box on Dumbo from Disney Parks is such a cool feature and a whole lot of fun.

Check out below for a list of all the power discs that you can currently own and remember this is only for series one of three. Disney hasn’t announced a release date for the other series but if you go into your Hall of Heroes in the game you will be able to get a sneak peak at what power discs are in the works in the near future. Did I mention TRON? Oops, I couldn’t help it. I can’t wait to be able to customize my toy box using these great power-ups.

Circular Discs
Bolt’s Super Strength – Character that you’re playing with does 10% more damage
Fix It Felix’s Repair Power – Character you’re playing with has 20% more health
C.H.R.O.M.E’s Armor Shield – In-game character receives -10% less damage
Pieces of Eight – In-game character gains 10% more loot

Hexagonal Discs
Mickey’s Car – Drive Mickey’s Jalopy
Cinderella’s Coach – Drive Cinderella’s Carriage
Kahn– Ride Kahn the Horse from “Mulan”
Stitch’s Blaster – In-game character gets Stitch’s blaster from “Lilo and Stitch”
Carl Fredericksen’s Cane – In-game character gets Carl’s cane from “Up”
King Candy’s Dessert Toppings Texture Set– Adds a “Sugar Rush” theme from “Wreck-it-Ralph”
Sugar Rush Sky Skydome – Adds a “Sugar Rush” theme from “Wreck-it-Ralph”
Alice’s Wonderland Texture Set – Adds an “Alice in Wonderland” terrain
Tulgey Wood Skydome – Adds an “Alice in Wonderland” sky
Marlin’s Reef Texture Set– Adds a “Finding Nemo” terrain
Nemo’s Seascape Skydome – Adds a “Finding Nemo” sky
Rapunzel’s Kingdom Texture Set – Adds a “Tangled” terrain
Rapunzel’s Birthday Sky Skydome – Adds a “Tangled” sky

Rare Hexagonal Discs
Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Adds the Dumbo ride from the Parks
Abu the Elephant – Adds the elephant version of Abu
Astro Blasters Space Cruiser – Adds the Astro Blaster vehicle from the Buzz Lightyear attraction

Let’s get into the actual gameplay a bit now.  I have to admit, since this game is aimed for a younger audience I wasn’t expecting a perfect game, but I was blown away by how much fun it is even for a big kid like myself.  There are a few bugs still within the game. You will find yourself ghosting in the wall of some plays et and toy boxes but that is also due to the endless customization of the game.  There are literally no boundaries…literally.  There are also no lives or continues needed for this game, which I enjoyed but it might turn off hardcore gamer who looks for that extra challenge.  If you fall off a cliff or get “killed”, you just re-spawn and continue where you left off, which was good enough for me. The controls are pretty solid I found expect for the driving, which to me just seems a little too fast. I would like the option to turn down the speed just a notch. Perhaps in a upcoming patch Disney?

So if you are a Disney fan in any aspect, this game is literally a must own.  I cannot even imagine how much they are going to expand this universe.  I can easily see myself playing this game for years to come without EVER getting bored.  There is so much to do and Disney has really scored a major hit here. Also just after this game was released, Disney has already announced some new sets and figures including a Toy Story in Space Play Set, featuring Buzz, Jessie and Woody, which is scheduled to be released in October. Also the next wave of individual figures include Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, Rapunzel from “Tangled”, as well as characters from “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Frozen”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Phineas and Ferb”, which are being rolled out beginning this October also through 2014. So stay tuned because we are only just getting started here.

Product Review: Genius Gaming Arcade Stick for PC & PS3 (Arcade F-1000)

I grew up when arcades used to be very popular and there was nothing like coming home from school and spending the afternoon at the arcade. Unfortunately those days are passed use with today’s high-def video game systems and vanishing arcades. Well, Genius has an answer to your prayers for all us hardcore gamers by bringing the arcade-quality control home for use with your PC or PS3. The new gaming arcade stick, Arcade F-1000 is a great way for us hardcore gamers to get that arcade feel while being in the comfort of our own homes.

This great item can be used on today’s games like “Street Fighter”, “Tekken” and even the “Call of Duty” series. Like I said it works with both PS3 and PC systems, even with Windows 8 operating system (Sorry XBOX you miss out here). I have to admit playing with this brought me back to the old days. It delivers the classic arcade feel yet it is so integrated with today’s games that it works so well.

Now let’s get to the details of the actual device. This comes with a standard 4-axis 13-button joypad and supports turbo function, so you have more precise control that an arcade layout provides and helps you get to the next level while playing action and shooting games. I have to admit, I have always been playing games on the PC but this really gives a great transition to crossing over to the PS3 with this arcade stick. What I like most is that it is not a cheap piece of plastic, it has a quite durable and sturdy metal base. It is not too heavy though weighing in at 1.866 kilograms.

The Arcade F-1000 lastly comes with 3 meter cable and 1 meter extension cable if you need the extra room and this really benefited my setup quite well. I remember my old NES controller with its 12 inch wire and we used to have to sit right in front of the screen before the days of wireless. This great item is now available in the US and Canada for the suggested retail price of US$59.99. I think it is worth every penny and will deliver a new or retro video game experience for sure.

PS3 Game Review “Alice: Madness Returns”

Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Designer: American McGee
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action-Adventure, Platform
Mode: Single-player
Rating: ESRB: M

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to view our interview with the game’s creator American McGee.
Click here
to enter for a chance to win a copy of the game on Playstation 3.

“American McGee’s Alice” has always been one of my favorite games to date. I have been early awaiting the release of this game…so let’s just say that expectations are very high. But worry though, this game comes through well over expectations. The game takes place 11 years after the first game (like in real life between their releases). Unlike the first game which was only released on PC and Mac format. This game is released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, so it is the first time it is available on console. If you are a fan of the original you will be greatly appreciative to hear that the first game, “American McGee’s Alice” is included for free on the disc of each game. So fans rejoice, 11 years was worth the wait because this game in plain English..KICK MAJOR ASS!

It’s eleven years since Alice left Rutledge (where we left her from the first game) and she is being taken care of by a child psychiatrist in London. She is still fighting the loss of her family and she starts to lose grip reality and returns to Wonderland. Unfortuntely the Wonderland she knew is gone and it is now a completely different place. This time, though, there’s an bigger question fueling her madness is the truth behind the fire that caused her family to die.

The visuals are stunning. The level design is very smooth and well done. The design isn’t the only thing that got an upgrade though Alice also is now about to double jump using twirls, she can also glide after jumping. She has the ability to shrink on demand to get to those hard to reach spots. I have been reading that some people are having issues with the controls and cameras. I find it to be the complete opposite in fact. I thought the cameras track well and the controls are definitely manageable (I just keep forgetting how to get that damn umbrella to come out).

“Alice: Madness Returns” is also heavy on the action and has some really dark gameplay. Alice has many weapons in her arsenal like the Vorpal Blade (can’t beat the classic hack/slash), Pepper Grinder (machine gun-like) and Hobby Horse (melee smash attack). What I also like about this game is that each hit will turn into a combo when combined with other buttons and dodges. I would have to agree pretty well with the games M rating, it definitely pushes the barriers, but that is a good thing. There are a few minor glitches I found the game, mostly when changing rooms or entering keyholes but otherwise, I didn’t noticing any lagging or freezing. The length of the game is decent and leaves you definitely feeling satisfied.  This is a must buy and I can’t wait to replay it again to see things that I missed the first time.

Now like I mentioned earlier the original American McGee’s Alice is included on the disc (unlockable using an online pass at the console store). One thing is though, after playing “Madness Returns” which is so smooth and beautiful, switching back to the original really shows its age. But hey what do you expect…11 years is a long time and games look better today that is expected. Getting to play the original for the first time on a console was really sweet and was a great idea for them to include it on this disc.