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Game Review

The so-called "toys to life" video game genre has been on the grow as of late. And for anyone late to the party, these franchises—pioneered first by Activision's Skylanders—involve purchasing not only the core game itself, but a bunch of plastic action figures/toys that sit on a game portal and become part of the adventure as you play.

And frankly, since Disney jumped into the fray, young gamers have a lot more toy figures to choose from. After all, Disney pretty much owns the toy box nowadays, from Mickey and his classic animated friends to Marvel's myriad superheroes to the old and new characters in the ever-expanding Star Wars franchise.

The newest entry, Disney Infinity 3.0, opens up the possibility for fun times with Mickey, the colorful emotion characters from Inside Out and, rumor has it, some new Marvel adventures later on with the likes of a Hulkbuster Ironman and Ultron.

But let's face it, 3.0 is, and will forever be, the Star Wars one.

In a Toy Box Far, Far Away

The starter pack comes with the action figures Anakin Skywalker and his Jedi apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, two characters most recently known for their roles in the animated Clone Wars series. Their "Twilight of the Republic" Play Set storyline includes Yoda, Darth Maul and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, all of whom can be purchased separately if you want to slip into their flipping, tumbling and lightsaber-swinging shoes.

What's the story? Well, it sorta feels like a blend of the cartoon series with events that take place just after the movie Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. The heroes discover a reactivated droid factory and zip from planet to planet in search of the mastermind behind a newly minted robot army being built for the Dark Side.

Now, having been a parent of little tykes myself, I understand if what I just said is a tad concerning for some. After all the Star Wars movies weren't really created for the youngest in the crowd.

But Disney has taken steps to dial back potentially troubling content. With dialogue tweaks and action adjustments, Disney's designers have made this tale into a kid-friendly adventure about good battling evil. In fact, if I can throw in a very personal opinion, I enjoyed playing through this story far more than I enjoyed watching any of the three newer prequels in that famed galaxy far, far away. (Just sayin'.)

Still, this is an action game. And a mildly violent one to boot. There's plenty o' lightsaber slashing, blaster zapping, Force pushing and pod-racer smashing going on. But it's not the cover-your-eyes kind by any stretch. When baddies blaze away with lasers at Anakin, for instance, he automatically deflects their shots with his lightsaber. And when foes are defeated, they simply crumble apart and disappear or fall out of the frame to live another day. As far as the Force is concerned, it's treated more like a super power than a mystical or spiritual concept.

May the Wallet Be With You

If anything, Disney Infinity 3.0 is even more accessible and easy to play than past entries for youngsters, while adding more interesting adventures and quests for older players. Which makes it sort of a win/win. Add in the Toy Box feature (which uses collectable bits and goodies from your Play Set adventures to literally create a playground full of anything and everything) and you've got a game that will give the kids and Mom and Dad alike tons of play-together possibilities.

Apart from the game's bloodless cartoony violence, the only other warning flag we really need to wave here is one we've raised with all these types of games: This bring-your-toy-to-life fun is designed to entice you to buy all of the related toy figures. If you want to play further Star Wars adventures, for instance, you'll need to go out and purchase the corresponding Adventure Set characters.

I mean how can you resist snatching up Luke, Princess Leia and Hans Solo so you can jump into the "Rise Against the Empire" adventure? Right? That's the argument kids are going to make, of course. Most of these action figure add-ons retail for about $13 apiece. So it doesn't take a math whiz to spot how quickly this ingenious marketing gimmick uses the Force to suck money right out of your wallet.

Of course, they are such great looking figures. I mean, I might have to buy a Darth Vader just to put on my desk. D'oh. See what I mean?

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Episode Reviews

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