Three years after “Disney Infinity” was shelved and two since “Skylanders” stopped its annual retail release schedule, a very sci-fi “Starlink: Battle for Atlas” is preparing to revive an abandoned toy-game sector.
Video game company Ubisoft has plenty of experience with merchandise, whether it be for the mischievous floppy-eared Raving Rabbids or its expansive, historical “Assassin’s Creed” action adventures.
Last year, it released its unusual and unexpectedly successful Nintendo crossover, “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle,” which was compatible with Nintendo’s line of scannable Amiibo figurines; now it’s going the whole hog with a toy-game hybrid of its own, “Starlink: Battle for Atlas.”
Presented as a boys’ sci-fi action adventure, at retail “Starlink,” out Tuesday, comes bundled with a copy of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch game, a modular space ship with swappable parts, and a figurine pilot.
The whole apparatus can be attached to a video game controller and “Starlink,” the game, understands which pilot and spaceship parts have been connected.
Thus players can fly to, and through, seven different worlds, recruiting crew members, completing storyline missions, taking on the forces of the Forgotten Legion and staving off hostile wildlife.
More peaceful endeavours are also available, from exploring the system and each planet’s surface or transporting cargo from one place to another.
As such, though dissimilar in scope and purpose, “Starlink” has been compared to the enormous “No Man’s Sky” (one of whose major updates was called Atlas Rises) or the Nintendo classic “Star Fox” – in fact, Nintendo and Ubisoft have collaborated once more to incorporate characters and spaceships from “Star Fox” into the Switch edition of the newer game.
With the genre clear of competitors, thanks to the withdrawals of “Disney Infinity” and Activision’s “Skylanders,” Ubisoft’s concept can be tested in less intese commercial circumstances.
So how much will it cost?
Perhaps in an effort to ameliorate concerns from wallet-wise parents and players, Ubisoft says the game can be played without buying supplemental toys and figurines; instead, it says, add-ons can be purchased as digital downloads at prices ranging from US$7.99 (RM33) to US$24.99 USD, in addition to an initial US$74.99 outlay for the console game’s Starter Pack.
Additional controller mounts, for same-screen two-player sessions, are priced at US$19.99.
Any plans for additional seasons or sequels’ worth of pilots, spaceships and weapons, whether physical or digital, are yet to be announced.