Ten or twenty years ago, creating your own world and sending Disney characters on journeys consisted of opening up your toy chest and using your imagination. Now the company is ready to sell you a digital world and $15 hunks of plastic that will do three-quarters of the work for you.
Disneyland is one of those places that everyone should get to experience at least once - there really is something magical about it. The enchanted castles, famous Disney characters all around, and over-the-top attractions really do make this The Happiest Place on Earth.
But there's a dark side to all that happiness and magic: lots of waiting. Whether it's an absurdly long line to ride Space Mountain or a ridiculous wait in the car just to get into the parking lot, you better go expecting to do a lot of standing around.
If you're not familiar with Disney Infinity, it's basically the media giant's answer to digital toys like Skylanders, Angry Birds Telepods, and Nintendo Amiibo. The gist is that you buy your kids RFID-enabled collectible statues, they stick 'em on a base station, and then they can use digital versions of those characters inside the Disney Infinity game. Is there a technical reason that a completely digital character needs a $15 hunk of physical plastic to unlock? Why certainly, so long as "technical reason" includes "making Disney a boatload of money."
The Infinity games are available on all major consoles and the PC.
Saturday mornings during my childhood were all about three things: a couple hours of freedom from parents, sugary cereal, and awesome cartoons. One of the best cartoons was DuckTales, the story of a cranky old duck, Scrooge, who liked to swim in a pool of gold coins and yell at his nephews as they tried to solve a mystery or rewrite history. There were a lot of race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes, along with villains and exotic locales. If reading about DuckTales is filling you with yearnings for your younger years, then this news is going to make your day. Disney has added Ducktales: Remastered to its ever-growing Android game library.
When the Nabi 2 received an update to Nabi OS 3.0 last month, this bumped it up to KitKat a year and a half after Google unveiled that particular version of Android to the world. Now the Disney and Nickelodeon editions of the tablets have stumbled in to receive 4.4 even later.
Fortunately the youngsters these tablets are geared towards aren't likely to follow Android blogs religiously, foaming at the mouth for the latest mobile goodness. So this is probably no harm, no foul. Nevertheless, it's hard for those of us who do keep up with these things to lay eyes on a tablet so woefully out of date without feeling some sort of paint in our guts.
As of Christmas Eve, the soundtrack to the hit Disney movie Frozen sold more albums than any other in the year 2014. Yep, even more than Taylor Swift. In what is likely just one of several post-Christmas deals and freebies to come, Google is giving it away for free.
I'll confess that the Club Penguin phenomenon is somewhat indecipherable to me. As someone who is neither a kid nor has kids, that's probably OK. But if you have children of a certain age, you might be familiar with the online site, a Disney property filled with simple browser games and penguin-themed customization portals. Now there's an Android version, for better or worse, aimed at taking the experience on the go.
I suppose that Club Penguin is technically a massively multiplayer online game, though "game" seems to be stretching the definition a bit. Kids create a penguin avatar, engage in some extremely basic winter-themed games, and decorate their personal homes ("igloos.") There are also portions of the 2D world reserved solely for interacting with other players, though given the kid-focused nature of the game, these interactions are highly limited to prevent any vulgarity or the revealing of personal information.
Everyone wants a piece of the digital streaming pie these days, and some companies seem to be a little too quick on the proprietary trigger. But Disney's solution, which often lets consumers pick between iTunes, Google Play, and their own Disney Movies Anywhere platform when redeeming digital copies, seems to be a pretty good one. Now the official Android app has arrived for easy integration on phones and tablets.
Disney Movies Anywhere is a separate app and system from the Google Play Store, but it has a few connections to the service. You'll have to create a Disney account to open the app itself, after which you can log in to Google Play, when all of your purchases of Disney movies (including Marvel and Pixar) will appear, and you can buy new Google Play movies directly from the app.
Gameloft's latest game, Cars: Fast As Lightning, is targeted towards kids, and it has all the makings of a good movie tie-in experience. The visuals are sharp and capture the feel of the films. The voice overs are convincing, the characters are well animated, and the dialogue might elicit a giggle or two.
Since Fast As Lightning is based on Cars, as you would expect, it's a racing title. And since this is game, there are controls, but they couldn't be more basic. Looping around tracks consists of holding down on the virtual pedal and easing up on the gas when going around corners.
Go to the Play Store on your Android device and look for Tiny Death Star, the Star Wars-themed version of Nimblebit's smash hit casual game Tiny Tower, and you won't find it. If that's surprising, you're not half as shocked as Nimblebit. According to a report from Pocket Gamer, Lucasfilm's new owners at Disney decided to un-publish the game without even telling the developers their plans. Disney also pulled a Star Wars card game, Assault Team, though that me-too CCG title is hard to get upset about.
Strangely, the Google Play Store web page for Tiny Death Star is still up, though it looks like every single device has been marked as incompatible, so you won't be able to find the listing on any Android phone or tablet.