Disney Infinity 3.0 vs. Skylanders SuperChargers

Skylanders Supercharges
Skylanders Supercharges. Activision

The era of the action figure game, in which parents not only are forced to buy a Starter Kit that generally costs more than a typical game but are then bombarded with advertisements for new ways to expand on that base foundation of gaming, has to be a drain on the average family wallet. I wonder if anyone has tallied up how much it would cost to own all of the “Disney Infinity” and “Skylanders” characters, vehicles, expansions, etc. It would be a small fortune. And so parents naturally are forced to decide—especially with “LEGO Dimensions” in the mix now too, which we’ll get to next week. Which one should you buy your little one? “Disney Infinity 3.0” with its brand-name characters and gorgeous figure design? Or the always-reliable “Skylanders” 2015 iteration, with a new emphasis on vehicular gameplay? I brought two of my kids along for this challenge—ages six and four—and they had a clear favorite, although the contest seemed a little closer in my opinion.

Disney Infinity 3.0

For the third version of “Disney Infinity,” they pulled out all of the stops. After bringing Marvel characters into this gaming world last year with “Disney Infinity 2.0,” this year’s version sees the characters from Lucasfilm and “Star Wars” entering the mix. Most buyers will get the Starter Kit that includes the play set “Twilight of the Republic” and Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. “Rise Against the Empire” (with Luke and Leia character figures) is also available now, with a “Force Awakens” playset coming in December. Meanwhile, an “Inside Out” playset is available (with Joy and Anger), along with a number of other standalone single characters to be purchased, including Yoda, Darth Vader, Mickey Mouse, Olaf from “Frozen,” Mulan, and Sam Flynn & Quorra from “Tron: Legacy.” Yes, in this crazy world, Minnie Mouse can play with Darth Maul and Iron Man. And all old Infinity characters work in this world.

And that’s part of the intrinsic charm of the “Infinity” series. In a sense, it comes closest to replicating how kids play with action figures and toys. My boys don’t discriminate because a toy belongs to one franchise or another. Olaf can play with Pikachu and Vitruvius. And so I love that aspect of the Toy Box in “Infinity.” The actual action of the game can be more frustrating. “Twilight of the Republic” is repetitive and filled with fetch quests. Go get this, come back. Go get that, come back. The environments are poorly designed and repetitive. And the voice work is mediocre. And so the success of “Infinity” really comes down to branding. Do I enjoy these games because of anything they actually offer on a development level, or just because I can throw Yoda and Hulk and Disgust from “Inside Out” into the same world. I’ll admit that my instinct was that “Disney Infinity 3.0” would be the clear winner here, perhaps seduced by the brand name, and initially frustrated by some of the gameplay in the latest “Skylanders.” My kids knew otherwise almost immediately.

Skylanders Superchargers

The latest toy-to-life game from Activision and Skylanders expands the world of this mega-hit franchise to include vehicles. The Starter Pack comes with a “Land Vehicle,” a car named Hot Streak, and players can buy “Water Vehicles” and “Sky Vehicles” at the store or online, along with new Skylander characters. All old Skylanders work in this world as well, including those from last year’s “Trap Team.” This game is HEAVY with what mobile gamers would call in-app purchases. While previous “Skylander” games felt like they could be enjoyed and completed with merely what came in the Starter Pack. This time around, you are constantly being reminded that you don’t have a “Water” or “Sky” vehicle. It wasn’t long before that oversight had to be corrected in my household.

And that’s because the game is surprisingly addictive and enjoyable once you get over some initially confusing driving controls. Like previous “Skylanders” games, it feels more effort is being put into the actual development of the game, and this one is surprisingly quirky, including a level built around a giant chicken. There are also race tracks that can be run (although some of those are even locked and require further purchase), but it’s the way that the vehicle sections are integrated into the actual level/mission design that impresses most of all.

Verdict

How do you decide? If you can only get the Starter Pack, “Infinity 3.0” offers more. If you can afford the other two vehicle types, “Superchargers” is a much better game. Will it cost you more in the end? Possibly. Although the dull game design for “Infinity” makes it very likely that your little one will want more new characters to keep it engaging. In the end, I think I have to go with what the toddlers in my house preferred, and that contest wasn’t even a close one, although future “Infinity” expansions could change that, and we’ll check back in if that’s the case. Until then, Winner: “Skylanders: SuperChargers”.