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"Disney Infinity" is probably the last Disney video game we'll ever need. Really, the folks at Disney Interactive absolutely nailed what the Magic Kingdom, as a whole, is all about -- imagination, wonder, and fun. Though it skews young, between 6 to maybe 12 year-olds,  "Infinity" gives players every tool they'll need to play make believe with some of the most beloved characters in Disney's roster. That said, if you're a parent or a Disney fanatic, prepare to feel it in the wallet.
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By Joseph Leray

Speaking to Videogamer, “Disney Infinity” executive producer John Vignocchi explained that his team’s new game could alleviate the need to make fully-fledged games for each of Disney’s new series. “Our idea was, ‘What if we created a platform that all the content could live in?’” he said.

“In the past, we used to do a game based on ‘Tangled,” and a game based on ‘Tron,” and a game based on ‘Epic Mickey,” he continued. “And every single time, whether it was an internal developer or external developer, we were starting from scratch.”
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By Joseph Leray

Destructoid is reporting that the basic setup for the recently-announced "Disney Infinity" will cost $74.99 when it goes to retail in June. That nets you a copy of the game, three figurines, and the wireless base that connects those figurines to the games.

Here’s a further breakdown:

Play Set Pack: $34.99
Individual figure: $12.99
Figure three-pack: $29.99
Power Disc Pack: $4.99

Play Sets include new hub areas and campaigns, and Power Discs are blind purchase packs that will include random sets of in-game abilities, items, and customizations. The real eye-opener, though, is that individual figurines -- which translate into playable characters -- are $12.99 each. The brand recognition and collectability are going to make Disney a fortune.
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by John Constantine

When you’re brought in to make an original game based on one of the most popular film franchises in history, your hands are usually tied to all kinds of characters, story elements and setting. Propaganda is taking the road less traveled with their action role-playing game “Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned”. No Jack Sparrow, no Orland Bloom Keira Knightley make-out sessions here. The game is all about you and you are the baddest ass pirate n the high seas.

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This morning I saw a demo of a very early build for "Split/Second," the new racing title by Black Rock Studio, the developers behind last year's "Pure." Global brand manager Mitch Powers showed me the game, and called it an "action-arcade street racing game set in the world of a primetime reality TV show." While that description sounds unwieldy, the HUD for the game was simple: all the information the player needed (rank, score, number of laps) was displayed on the bumper of the player's vehicle.

"We're investigating different ways of showcasing the HUD without putting to much on screen, really keeping it minimal," Powers said, adding that this was far from the final product. When I asked if he thought other racing games' HUDs were too cluttered, he said, "I think games in general can have too much stuff in their HUD. We're always looking at innovative ways to incorporate important information into the HUD, or at least give gamers the option [to see what they want]. If I want to see it, I'll see it. But I don't want it to be persistent if i don't want to see it. In 'Split/Second,' we really want to showcase the blockbuster action that's happening within the race; we don't want to cover it up with HUD elements."

How much do you want in your HUD? Do you think less is more?

"Split/Second" is slated for release on PC, Xbox 360, PS3 early next year.

Most of us have accepted the realities of downloadable content. Some like it more than others, but it's part of the industry now.

But what if the money you needed to earn to get it could be earned by playing a game?

Disney is proposing that very idea with their first wave of downloadable content for "Spectrobes: Beyond The Portals," a sci-fi take on the "Pokemon" concept.

The six creatures available as downoadable content in "Spectrobes" -- Windalo, Windino, Shasharp, Grispit, Samuspire, Sestar -- are purchased using the same currency, Gura, that players use to purchase other items and weapons in the game.

This way, Disney isn't asking you for more money, but they are requiring you to invest some time in their game to access the extra content. That's a new idea.

I'd like to see more games give this a shot. What do you think?

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I know "Spectrobes" is not made for me, but during a demo yesterday morning in San Francisco, I marveled at how many Internet features Disney is packing into their kid-targeted "Pokemon"-style game.

There's more in "Spectrobes 2: Beyond The Portal" than most hardcore DS games!

Let me explain some of what Disney is pulling off here:

* The ability to port creatures from the previous "Spectrobes," even though the original game was not designed for it
* Support for their cross-game social networking service DGamer
* Launching a massive "Spectrobes" website that's updated by users uploading their individual data directly through the DS
* Individual player achievements (called emblems) and community achievements (i.e. be part of the first 10,000 players to upload data at the game's release)
* Global (and local) Wi-Fi battles
* An online marketplace for "Spectrobe" creatures, where players set the value

That's quite a lot of tech going into what most of us would call a kids game, no? I wonder if many will end up using it, but Disney seemed confident they would.

PureRacers aren't my thing. I played two hours of "Gran Turismo 5: Prologue" because I wanted to hear a new Weezer track. But once in a great while, an arcade racer will suck me in. "SSX" did years and years ago and so did "Ridge Racers" on PSP.

So for me to report that I'm genuinely excited about a racing game means something. And that's exactly how I felt after a half hour demo of Disney and Blackrock Studio's "Pure."

The game is as described: "SSX"-meets-ATV. I haven't touched an ATV racing game that wasn't forced on me to review, but I would happily play this one.

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DGamerThere are Achievements, Entitlements, eventually trophies, and now there are Honors, courtesy of Disney's upcoming DGamer social network for the Nintendo DS.

DGamer comes first attached to "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." As the first title coming out of Disney's newly formed Fall Line Studios, a group focused exclusively on Wii and DS development, there's quite a bit riding on the reaction to this initial outing.

Disney's hopes are pinned to the younger crowd flocking towards DGamer, Disney's gaming take on the Facebook/Xbox Live/MySpace phenomenon, an extension of what the company has already been toying with on Disney.com.

I decided to give it a whirl yesterday. Unfortunately, Disney rejected my screen name!

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