It’s the battle of the giants this holiday season, with new games from both Disney Infinity and Skylanders.
On a surface level these games seem similar—they come in expensive starter packs with figurines and accessories, and they want to leave a dent in your wallet. They’re also both quality family-friendly games from publishers that have a vested interest in keeping you satisfied.
So do they succeed? And who does it better? That’s what I’m going to tell you in this comparison of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and Skylanders: Trap Team.
The Starter Packs
Each game requires you to get a starter pack for the full experience, and they both start out at $74.99. A standard AAA video game costs about $50-$60, so this isn’t too far off, because you’re getting figurines and a game.
Let’s start by taking a look at Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes. With this starter pack we get three figurines—Black Widow, Thor, and Iron Man—plus two additional game discs that have short campaigns on them.
It also comes with the single-player campaign which is stored on this translucent plastic piece called the Play Set. Aside from this story mode, it also has the Toy Box mode—which lets you build your own games. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes’ Infinity Base is what you put your figurines on; it plugs into your console, holds up to two figurines and a Play Set. It’s compatible with the figurines and power discs from earlier Disney Infinity games, but not with the Play Sets.
With the Skylanders: Trap Team starter pack we get two characters and two Traps. The Traps can be used to catch and play as villains from the game, so essentially you’ve got two figurines plus up to two digital characters.
Trap Team comes with its own base, called a Portal, and this one is specially made to hold the traps in a slot. Older Skylander figurines are compatible with this Portal, and they’ll retain any powers you’ve given them.
All the figurines are really nice. They’re specifically designed to be solid and withstand some rough play from kids—they’re toys as well as game pieces.
I give Marvel Super Heroes points for including diverse characters. Even if it’s hard to find a Black Widow action figure at Toys R Us, you can definitely find Gamora, Black Widow, Falcon, Nick Fury, and more available for Disney Infinity. The Skylanders are all really fantastical creatures—some are humanoid, some resemble dogs and dragons, and all of them are pretty cool.
As far as what you get in the starter packs, Marvel Super Heroes and Trap Team are pretty much equal—both in price and in their completeness. You don’t need to make additional purchases to feel like you’re playing a whole game.
Of course, each game’s business model is invested in keeping you buying more stuff. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes has additional figurines for $14.99. These include characters from “The Avengers,” “Spider-Man,” “Big Hero 6,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
For $35.99 you get two figurines and an additional Play Set for Disney’s other Marvel movies (like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Big Hero 6”). You can buy power discs in packs of two for $4.99. They’re randomized. Some are Ability Discs, which add power to your characters. There are Toy Discs that give you new objects for the Toy Box mode of Disney Infinity. Customization Discs give you more options for tweaking the Toy Box, and then there are Rare Discs that have super rare Toys and Customizations.
Skylanders: Trap Team has figurines for $16.99, with packs of three for $25.99. You can get extra Traps for $6.99, again with packs of three for $14.99.
If you want to buy every single accessory, both games can run you into the hundreds of dollars. Marvel Super Heroes is more focused on giving you ways to build things in the Toy Box, while Trap Team wants to give you tons of new characters. The Skylanders franchise has the flexibility to do this, since all its characters are original, and new ones are introduced with each installment of the franchise.
Playing the Games
So we’ve gone over what you physically get when you’re looking at Disney Infinity and Skylanders. What about the gaming experience?
This is where the two franchises really start to diverge.
Disney Infinity’s Avengers campaign mode gets repetitive fast. You go from location to location, beating up bad guys with various constraints—sometimes a time limit and sometimes a certain number of citizens you have to rescue or an evil machine that needs to be destroyed. It’s an open world. You have the whole city of New York as your playground, but since there are very few ways to interact with the city, it’s a little empty, a little sparse.
But Disney Infinity offers the Toy Box, which is intended to keep players occupied for as long as their imaginations will allow. You can place terrains and objects, assign actions to objects, and basically make your own games. The learning curve is steep, but the tools are pretty complex. This is great if designing games is really what you want out of Marvel Super Heroes. If you’re not invested in building and creation, then it will get old pretty quickly.
For Skylanders, the campaign mode is its greatest strength. Instead of wandering around one area, like in Marvel Super Heroes, you travel from one awesome location to another in the magical Skylands. This helps keep the game fresh. Every area introduces new scenery and new enemies. At the central hub, Skylands Academy, there are multiple mini-games that you can play—from tower defense games, to short rhythm games, to side-scrolling platforming sections.
Each game wants to be an ongoing investment. They want you to buy new figurines and add-ons and accessories.
What it comes down to is—if you want to play polished, diverse games, try Skylanders. If you want to make them, maybe Disney Infinity is the game for you. Skylanders: Trap Team is the better game. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is the better creative tool.