It's not a joy, but it won't make you too angry.
It is worth noting for the context of this review that Inside Out was effectively my first time playing any real content in Disney Infinity. I played around with the toy box for an hour or two before starting this Play Set, but I have not played any prior Disney Infinity game, nor have I played any of the Star Wars Play Sets created for Disney Infinity 3.0.
Disney Pixar’s film Inside Out is a complex exploration of human emotion and adolescence, full to the brim with imagination and color. It has nuance, comedy, emotion, and fun; it succeeds at almost every level. Disney Infinity 3.0 tries to capture this success and bring it to the video game world with a stand-alone Play Set, which includes two figurines and supports three additional figures.
First, the physical: The Joy and Anger figures included with the Play Set are wonderfully sculpted. All of the Inside Out characters look great, and the addition of a colored ball “memory” on the base is a great touch from the film. The Play Set piece itself looks like the core memory base from the movie, and stands out as a neat design.
However, the pleasantries don’t fully extend to the experience of actually playing the game. To Disney Infinity’s credit, the characters retain some of the original voice actors (Lewis Black and Phyllis Smith return as Anger and Sadness respectively) however some of the other voices aren’t quite right. That’s not terribly distracting, considering the dialogue is mostly restricted to throw-away one-liners during the stages. There are a few cut-scenes, but even after several hours into the game, it wasn’t clear why I should care about the story.
The stages themselves are broken up into 2D and 3D platforming stages, without any real rhyme or reason. It’s nice that they felt compelled to mix it up, but while games like Super Mario Galaxy blend 2D and 3D gameplay seamlessly, it feels very arbitrary in Inside Out. The stages contain the same basic goals; collect the thing-a-ma-bobs (balloons, Mind Manual pages, light bulbs) and find your way to the exit, while solving (mostly) basic puzzles along the way. Some of the stages have clever twists, such as reversing gravity, but most of the stages look and feel very much the same. The problem with the abstract world of Inside Out is that everything kind of looks similar; pink background with giant sized obstacles that look like everyday objects. It’s not that the game looks bad, it just sort of all looks the same, and after a few hours of playing the game, it begins to blend together.
The game isn’t terribly long, containing about 25 stages, but each stage takes way longer than the “Par” time of 7 minutes. On my first playthrough, I was averaging 10-20 minutes per stage, depending on how distracted I was by my preschooler removing and replacing character figurines in whatever configuration pleased her.
The characters all control slightly differently. Joy and Anger are the two included figures, and have the ability to hover and walk on lava, respectively. Sadness can stand on clouds without them breaking, Disgust can jump higher off clouds, and Fear has increased speed. These powers are used to get additional collectables, but even if you don’t have all of the figures, the game allows you to put on costumes to get the doo-dads you couldn’t otherwise reach.
The movement feels very floaty, which I think is just inherent to Disney Infinity in general. It’s hard to really enjoy the platforming when you don’t feel like you have tight control over the characters, and that really impacts the enjoyment of the game. In addition, while there is some basic combat (for the first hour or so, the only enemy you will encounter is seriously just broccoli; that’s amazing) it is repetitive and not challenging or enjoyable.
Disney Infinity 3.0’s Inside Out Playset is competent, and probably will be enjoyed by young kids who are excited to play as these characters. Unfortunately, as Nintendo fans who have been enjoying a glut of Mario games in recent years, this platforming action doesn’t make the cut. It’s a bit of Sadness and Anger all wrapped into one little package.