As is true of most families, each child has a very different personality: my 13yo is a cerebral and bookish self-described geek, my 10yo is very athletic and has only a passing interest in video games, and my 5yo is quite active and has a remarkably short attention span. (In other words, he's a normal 5yo kid.) It's tough to find family games appealing to the whole crew, but Disney Infinity delivers on all fronts.
If your kids already play Skylanders, then you're familiar with the basic mechanics of the figure/game interaction. Place a figure on the base, that character transports into the video game world, and the child assumes the role of that character. This is great for younger players, as it's fun to place different characters in the game and see how they interact with the environment. Some of the game mechanics - particularly for the mission-based elements - can be frustrating for younger players, so the ability to change mid-game helps to hold the tantrums at bay.
Another great feature for keeping younger ones engaged is the multiplayer mode. When a player completes a mission, all players enjoy the spoils of victory. While my 5yo runs around exploring environments and goofing around, the older kids are completing the core mission elements. When a mission is completed, confetti canons fire and all the characters celebrate, so even little players feel like they've played a roll in getting the job done. A very nice feature for family game time.
The game also delivers a wonderful single-player experience. The diversity of missions is great - not too easy, not too tough - and the open world setting encourages (and rewards) exploration, so even my first-person-shooter / Minecraft addicted teenager enjoys playing.
Speaking of Minecraft... the 'Toy Box' mode is what makes the game really shine. The ability to build, play in, and share the worlds you create is exceptional. The world-building mode is definitely better suited for bigger kids, but it creates a rich experience that really does let kids (okay... and parents) have fun letting their imagination go wild. From building platformer-type games (think Donkey Kong with Disney characters) to race tracks that are mash-ups of different Disney environments, there's not a lot you can't do in the Infinity world. You can also download and play worlds created by Disney, which gives the game a bit if an evergreen nature, as you can always grab new games and keep the experiences fresh... all at no additional cost. (Note: you do need an Internet connection for this feature.) Inspired, out-of-the box thinking in the best tradition of Disney. Really well done.
We bought the WiiU edition starter kit and have since purchase several figures, as well as the 'Cars' world game pack. All figures are of reasonably high quality and make great little collector pieces in their own right. Disney also did a great job of 'normalizing' styles from several different properties. Jack Sparrow (from a live-action film), Mr. Incredible (from a Pixar animated film), and in-game cameos by Mickey (traditional animation icon), all look like they're from the same family, yet nothing is lost in translation. Very clear that Disney invested time in delivering a quality experience across both physical and digital aspects of the game.
All-in-all, I very highly recommend this game. Although I haven't played on all consoles, I'm sure they're great. The WiiU version makes little use of the extra screen, but there's a nice feature where the game can be played entirely on the WiiU controller... a very nice feature when Dad wants to watch sports while one of the kids game away.
Getting going with the system can be a bit pricey: $79 for the starter kit which comes with the portal, the game disc, and three figures. Given that there are three distinct game worlds - Monsters U, Incredibles, and Pirates - plus the Toy Box mode, it really is quite a good value. Additional figures can be had for roughly $10 each (Toys'R'Us recently had a 'buy two for $20' deal) if you catch a sale. Additional playsets are in the $30-$40 range, but typically come with two new figures plus a whole new game world. Again, a great value given that most new video games fall in the $40 - $60 range.
I love gifts like this, particularly around the holidays, as they make a nice one-two punch for parents: Mom & Dad can give the starter set as a main gift, and relatives can give additional figures at a low cost. The kids are happy and no one breaks the bank.
The list of disappointing kid-friendly games is long, as games modeled after animated properties are typically mediocre at best. Disney Infinity, however, breaks from that pack with gusto and delivers an entertaining and innovative experience that should have a long shelf life. Highly recommended.