'Star Wars' characters brighten 'Disney Infinity 3.0'

Story highlights

  • New "Disney Infinity 3.0" video game showcases characters and stories from "Star Wars"
  • Gamers can retell iconic events from the original movie trilogy

(CNN)In the "Star Wars" history and mythos, there are absolutes, such as: Darth Vader does not run -- ever. He walks.

So when Disney Interactive was filling the latest version of its "Disney Infinity" game with characters from the "Star Wars" movies and "Clone Wars" cartoons, there was a bit of conflict over how to portray Vader and other iconic characters.
The new "Disney Infinity 3.0" showcases characters and stories from "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" all the way through the upcoming film in the franchise, "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens."
    The idea, says John Vignocchi, Disney Interactive vice president of production, was to appeal to fans of all ages and satisfy what those people love most about "Star Wars."
    "It's allowed us to reach a very broad demographic of gamers and of 'Star Wars' fans and of Disney fans," Vignocchi said. "Frankly, I think we're just getting started. It's going to grow over time with more characters and more content."
    Because more than 100 playable characters will eventually be included in the game, the development teams at Disney Interactive and Avalanche wanted to get specific help in making the "Star Wars" edition more advanced than in previous versions of the game.
    Ninja Theory, a development team responsible for more mature titles like "Heavenly Sword" and "Devil May Cry," took their expertise in swordplay mechanics and applied it to lightsaber play.
    "Disney Infinity 3.0" allows gamers to retell iconic moments from the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
    "So now we've got way more advanced, way more expressive move sets than we've ever had before," Vignocchi said. "A character like Anakin Skywalker is using his Force powers to pull and does lots of cool air juggles and is really much more of an aggressive Jedi than, say, someone like Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is much more of a defensive Jedi."
    Making each "Star Wars" character feel unique, with their own moves and personalities, was a driving force for development teams, who tried to balance gameplay mechanics with fan expectations for their favorite characters. Vignocchi said trying to meld those two ideas led to some very heated discussions.
    "Darth Vader does not run. We had a very long conversation about this. We sent a version of the game over to Lucasfilm for their producers to review and give us feedback. They said, 'This is great, but Darth Vader does not run.'
    "We said this is a video game and all characters run inside the game, and if Darth Vader's not running, players may perceive him as less powerful than others," Vignocchi added. "Lucasfilm came back and said, yeah, but fans will appreciate more the fact that Darth Vader does not run."
    While Vignocchi, an admitted "Star Wars" fanatic, appreciates the passion and fervor of the "Star Wars" community, he wants everyone to remember the new game features only toy versions of the familiar characters.
    One of the adventures, a "Rise Against the Empire" playset, follows the storyline from episodes 4 through 6, or the original movie trilogy. Rather than telling a new story with those characters, the development team was under specific orders from the Emperor himself (actually, Lucasfilm).
    "The events that have transpired in episodes 4 through 6 are concrete and canon, and no one can touch those," Vignocchi said. "They are totally untouchable, so (we were told) if you guys want to create content for episodes 4 through 6, you have to do a retelling of those iconic moments."
    However, they did allow any character from the "Star Wars" universe, including the seven movies or the two animated series, "Star Wars Rebels" and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," to play in any Star Wars playsets.
    "I think it is kind of fun to see Luke fighting Darth Maul. Or Darth Vader taking on General Grievous. Or Anakin teaming with Darth Vader. I can't wait to see the screenshot of that," he said.
    Seven movies? That's right. "Disney Infinity 3.0" will include content from "Episode VII -- The Force Awakens" to be released later in the year in conjunction with the new movie, which opens December 18 in the United States. Two of the film's key characters, Finn and Rey, will be playable characters with their own toy figurines.
    Vignocchi said the pressure to be part of the new movie, in addition to making an experience that diehard "Star Wars" fans will enjoy, was tremendous -- and inspiring.
    "'Infinity' is the only video game that will be featuring characters and content from 'Episode VII -- The Force Awakens,'" he said. "And that has become a huge responsibility, because J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, the director and producer on the film, have made, what I believe will be, one of the best 'Star Wars' films ever made."
    "Disney Infinity 3.0" isn't all "Star Wars," though. Characters and adventures from "Frozen," "Inside Out," "Tron: Legacy" and the Marvel world, including the Hulkbuster Iron Man, Ultron, and Black Suit Spider-Man, are also included in this latest version.
    While those heroes, villains and content will offer their own unique gameplay, it is the "Star Wars" experience that most fans are likely eager to try, especially with the new movie on the horizon.
    Vignocchi is excited to get the "Year of 'Star Wars,'" as he calls it, rolling toward a big finish. He wants "Disney Infinity 3.0" to appeal to everyone from kids to gamer moms to hardcore 'Star Wars' fans.
    "Hopefully, when our playset comes out this fall in conjunction with the film, they'll think that we've delivered," he said.