The recent announcement by Warner Bros Interactive, unveiling the re-launch of former Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Software, came as an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Under the leadership of original studio founder John Blackburn, and with over 100 members’ of staff returning, the first new game will be Cars 3 coming later in 2017.
Our family’s enjoyment of Avalanche Softwares’ games goes back long before the Disney Infinity games. Back in 2005 they released Chicken Little, alongside the film of the same name. Back then, movie licensed games were prolific, there was a stigma that most, (if not all) were bad quality and rushed to completion.
Chicken Little however, while not as refined as later Avalanche games would become, was a much more polished and enjoyable experience than the average movie tie-in, with solid platforming and lots of exciting mini-games. Similar themes would re-surface years later in Disney Infinity.
This rise in quality over the standard movie tie-in would continue over the next few years, with the original sequel to Chicken Little “Ace in Action”, along with two more Disney movie adaptations, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt in 2008.
They started their long running association with Pixar Animation in 2010 with the Toy Story 3 video-game. The game was a hit with my family. Along with its fun, well rounded story mode, it bought with it the building blocks for Disney Infinity’s most interesting feature, “Toy Box” mode.
This was an open world area where players could arrange buildings and other features, as well as complete mission and tasks from various NPC’s. The toy box was by far the most fun and exciting aspect of Toy Story 3 and would be massively expanded and improved when it was included in Disney Infinity.
In 2011 Avalanche made its first foray into the world of Pixar’s Cars, with the Cars 2 video game. Once again the game transcends the usual movie game cliché and delivers a great racing game experience, comparable in quality to the likes of Mario Kart and Sonic all Stars Racing.
Having squeezed every last drop of fun out of Disney Infinity my family are now looking forward to Avalanche’s next chapter with Cars 3. For me, the most exciting thing about Avalanche’s return is the innovation they will continue to bring to the family game genre.
Will we see the Toy Box mode return in some form? Perhaps a stand-alone game, without the toys-to-life element? There’s a lot of potential in the concept, and it would be a shame for the creators to let it die. Either way, whatever happens in the future it’s exciting to have one of the best studios in the industry making games for families again.