Now that Disney's swept the entire 35-year history of supplemental Star Wars works onto the floor and declared the whole thing apocryphal, we old-time fans have a lot of relearning to do. New tie-in products, which are officially canonical under the new Disney scheme, are therefore a chance for reeducation.
In the case of Disney Infinity 3.0, which adds the Star Wars license to Disney's sprawling game-cum-platform, what I've learned from just a brief hands-on demo is that Princess Leia is basically a ninja. While her brother Luke Skywalker can wield a lightsaber and handgun with which to fight Stormtroopers, Leia prefers to go the chopsocky route, laying into the enemy throngs with fists and feet. I'm not sure why this never manifested in the films, but it's canon now. Needless to say, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing 60-year-old Leia bust some moves in The Force Awakens this fall.
OK, but really, the Star Wars additions to Disney Infinity — new for version 3.0 — won't surprise anyone who's played the LEGO Star Wars games. Infinity has sharper, more varied, and more precise play mechanics than TT's LEGO titles; the obligatory Hoth snowspeeders-versus-AT-ATs battle isn't exactly Factor 5 quality, but it's still pretty solid. The overall format, however, hews very much to that of the LEGO franchise. No need to fume over Star Wars' absence from LEGO Dimensions this year, since you'll get the same effect from Infinity.
Mos Eisley features huge, wide-open spaces with familiar scenes and characters littering the streets. Off to one side, you'll find massive Jawa sandcrawlers in need of repairs. Those repairs represent a quest for you to undertake by rounding up some batteries; Threepio might not approve of giving aid to those disgusting little creatures, but who can say no to quest rewards? Desert Stormtroopers with their orange pauldrons patrol the town, while astromech droids of various shapes and sizes glide from one moisture vaporator to another. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan stands impatiently in front of the cantina, handing out story missions... but you can just as easily blow those off to take a Landspeeder ride up to Jabba's palace, where the slimy Hutt seems perfectly happy to hand out extra missions to a random moisture farmhand or space princess.
Or you can blow off the structured portion of the game as a whole and spend hours chucking objects into the Sarlaac pit. Apparently that's what most of the playtesters (read: kids) have been doing. Just ignoring poor Obi-Wan and leaving him to bake in the dusty sun so they can chuck random objects into a hole in the sand to be slowly digested for a thousand years. Me, I didn't have that much time to waste, so instead I did a GTA-style high-speed rolling dive from the Landspeeder: Gunned it over a flat stretch of land heading directly for the Sarlaac, then bailed out at the last second. The vehicle fit perfectly, but a few moments later the Sarlaac began spewing green vomit into the air. Evidently landspeeders don't agree with the desert monstrosity's digestion. (And, sadly, no sign of Boba Fett in the emesis.)
As Star Wars games go, Disney Infinity 3.0 doesn't have nearly the hardcore appeal of Battlefront. But that's kind of the point... and anyway, it's not really just a Star Wars game. Infinity 3.0 also has a huge assortment of classic Disney characters and scenarios, Marvel heroes, and new properties like Pixar's Inside Out. It's an all-ages, all-inclusive product. And it turns out "all-inclusive" refers to its game mechanics; besides the usual lightweight brawling, it also incorporates vehicular combat, 2D platforming (highlighted in the Inside Out module, which is a gravity-bending platformer where you leap between San Francisco and Minnesota as your personal gravity inverts), and even one of the better-looking Mario Kart clones I've seen. (As well it should be, given the racing module was developed by top-tier race devs Sumo Digital.)
Infinity really helps to underline the nature of the Disney media approach, which we've seen at work in the Marvel film series: Bring countless properties together into a sprawling octopus of a platform, give talented people control over different facets of it, and let them go to work. The results may not exactly be imaginative — Infinity feels very much derived from Skylanders and the TT LEGO games, and not just for the way they all exist in the toys-to-life space — but they look polished and fun. The emphasis on familiar properties does its job, too. I couldn't care less about Inside Out, but the classic Star Wars sequences undeniably stimulate my nostalgia cortex.
And it's educational! It's not just us old-timers who have a lot to learn about the new reality of Star Wars. The developer who walked me through my Infinity demo admitted that kids keep getting into trouble whenever they come across Stormtroopers. Since they associate gleaming white armor with The Clone Wars, where the proto-Stormtroopers were with the good guys, they don't have the needed instinctive urge to open fire on the Imperial soldiers wandering the dusty streets of Mos Eisley spaceport. "They always seem confused when the Stormtroopers start shooting at them," he laughed. "They're like, 'Why are the good guys trying to hurt me?'"
I, for one, am looking forward to the bafflement of an entire generation of kids once The Force Awakens arrives. I'll probably never play Infinity 3.0, but the fact that it's whetted my interest in the next Star Wars means Disney wins anyway. And yet, hypocritically, they're still banking on movies where empires are the bad guys.