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The Legendary Heroes of Skylands
Next Tribute ♦
About the Game Series
Minor Spoilers
Character
Heroes.
Skylanders is a misunderstood game. Let's wind our clocks back to the year 2011. When Skylanders was originally announced, it got a lot of negative criticism because it seems that they shoved Spyro into the game. (But let's put that aside shall we?) On it's release things changed, it was praised for it's genius way of linking both video games and toys, something that has not been see before. I agree with this statement, I think Skylanders is an excellent series and here's three reasons why it is:
Reason 1: A Great Game in itself
Let's first talk about the core game. The main gameplay is mainly split into two parts. The first is the traditional platforming and exploration. Although the first two games you can't jump (it's not as bad as you think) the games since have included the option, but done it in such a way that different age and skill levels can still enjoy playing.

As you would expect from a Platformer, there's plenty of things to do during the course of your adventure. There are many items to collect like story scrolls, hats, treasure chests, legendary treasure and loads more. Solving puzzles, which involves moving blocks, teleports, shining lights, picking locks and races are just some you will encounter. The other is Skystones. It's gone through a few different variations over the years, but it generally involves placing characters cards on a board to defeat your opponent. Some are mandatory to progress, whereas others are optional (which means they are generally a little tougher) It does break up the rest of the gameplay nicely, and it adds a little more variety from the combat.

Speaking of which, the rest of the game involves battling and combat. While initial fears seemed like it was going to be repetitive, its simply not the case here. The reason it doesn't fall into the trap is because of the different fighting styles and moves of the Skylanders, and loads of types of enemies. It very rarely becomes a chore to battle. Battle arenas are also present which focuses on staying alive and levelling up your Skylanders, but even these are rarity.

If there's one aspect of the Skylanders series that has seen great improvement are the graphics. If you compare the original game, Spyro's Adventure, with the latest release of Superchargers, there is a massive difference. The designers have done a brilliant job of getting the best out of the graphics, with the environments look stunning. Skylanders does feature a lot of different environments and locations within the world of Skylands, which are always a pleasure to visit. So if you are in the grassy fields, travelling underground, exploring lava caves, snowy mountains, castles or volcano's, they sure look fantastic!
Reason 2: A Great Concept
The actual game is only part of the game (confusing right?), as the concept is very interesting. Mixing together video games and toys has been a largely untapped resource in the past, but thanks to Skylanders who pioneered the idea, it was finally been brought together. Five years on, Toys-to-Life is now one of the most popular genre's.

Firstly, you have the toys or figures. (They don't come off the bases sadly) These figures act as characters. At any point during the game, you can place a character onto the round base called the portal of power, and the character will come to life within the game. You can switch characters at any time, so you can always have the right Skylander for the job.

While this remains true throughout all the games, each game features a new “gimmick” to the figures released for each game to keep things fresh and interesting. Bear this mind when you read what's available: They are all forwards compatible! Which means you can use a character from a previous game and use it in the new game.Here's a rundown of the main ones, taking in mind each game has lots of gameplay additions.

> Spyro's Adventure introduced the core figures and the whole toys to life concept.
> Giants featured giant figures, which were twice as big and had different functions within the game. Giants also featured lightcore figures, which light up on the portal without batteries.
> Swap Force featured figures that could be split into two parts and mix and matched with other swap force characters, creating hundreds of different combinations.
> Trap Team featured trap masters, who could trap villains into traptanium crystals. These are real world traps, which when inserted into the special portal of power talk to the player through a speaker. The player then also can play the villain in-game too!
> Superchargers has vehicles, which come in three different types – land, sea and air. The special supercharger Skylanders all have a corresponding vehicle, and can also upgrade and modify supercharger vehicles.

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Reason 3: A Great Cast of Skylanders
The Skylanders are the heroes of the series, and at the time of writing, over 120 Skylanders have been released - an impressive number. (Only Pokemon has that kind of number of playable characters within a seires). On a side note: I'm glad to report that Spyro is present, who has his original moves of charging, fire breath, flight and head bash.

Skylanders come in eight elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Magic, Tech, Water and Undead. (From Trap Team onwards, Dark and Light are added). Each of these elements has at least 15 Skylanders in each. Most areas in Skylands have an element to them. Using a Skylander from the same element, these Skylanders are stronger, increasing their attack strength. The other thing to look out for are elemental gates. These gates are sealed shut, unless you have a Skylander of that element.

You sometimes find in some games that different playable characters have very similar moves that aren't too different. Skylanders are not like that at all. In fact, the abilities and moves that Skylanders have vary considerably. Here are a few examples:
> Chopper has heat-seaking missiles.
> Gill Grunt has a water cannon and quick firing harpoon.
> Magma Charge can pick enemies and throw them.
> Terrafin can burrow underground
> Stealth Elf can make copies of herself to fool enemies.

Your Skylanders earn experience from defeating enemies, and level up to increase total health. When you collect enough treasure you can upgrade their moves and abilities, meaning they become a lot more powerful, making them in more useful in combat. These are all stored in the figure itself, rather than in- game. So you can take the Skylanders between games and not lose any upgrades or anything you have earned for your heroes.

A common misconception with the Toys-to-Life genre, is you can finish the games with only the characters included with each starter pack. But it's the fun of collecting the figures, and finding out which Skylanders are your favourites. I have a few favs, including Spyro, Magma Charge, Stormblade, Tree Rex, Krypt King and Flashwing. That's just some – I could list most of the Skylanders, as there are few I'm not very fond of. The design and playability of the Skylanders is very consistent.


Closing Thoughts
Excellent Excellent
At the time, the concept was unique. No other game had the level of connectivity between figures and gaming. It is a truly unique concept which I am really glad has gone really well for Activision, as it means more innovation of the Toys-to-Life genre in the future. The trick to really enjoy Skylanders, as don't think about it as a Spyro game – think of it as a new series entirely.

My One Big Highlight
Spiderman I could mention a few moments throughout my adventures throughout Skylanders. But one I do remember is playing Dragon's Peak, from the first game. I was sad that the pure Spyro series is no more, so when I did play that particular level, (along with the awesome music) it really did feel like a Spyro level. So much so, that I won't play the level with anyone but Spyro!
Elephant In the Room
elephantThere is a problem (not just with Skylanders) with the toys-to-life genre – its expensive. To start with, you need to buy the starter packs, and then you can spend hundreds of pounds buying all the figures. You can get through each game with just the starter packs, so it isn't as bad as Disney Infinity or Lego Dimensions in that aspect.
List
Marvelous Music
Spoiler Free
Video Game soundtracks have generally been quite under appreciated through the years, with the big movie scores gaining noticed a lot more. But with movie composers like Lorne Balfe now handling video games, a rise of quality is the result in recent times. The music in all the Skylanders games have been excellent, so it was a tough ask to whittle the list down to just twenty. But here it is!

PLEASE NOTE: A couldn't find the first track on Youtube, hence only being 19 track in total.

A New Chieftness
While I’m a big fan of all the soundtracks for all the games, the Swap Force is my least favourite for reasons I can’t quite work out. Saying that, I quite liked this track. A cheerful track played when Tessa is made the new Chieftness of Woodburrow. An interesting way to round off the soundtrack.
Secret Vault of Secrets
This level is one of my favourites from Skylanders Giants, mainly because of levels like this that mixes things up. The majority of the level involves you controlling a giant Arkeyan Mech. This is reflected in the track, with the size of Giant Mechs and battling, especially the part at 1:30.
Exploring the Ruins
After the main theme, and Shattered Island probably the third track you ever heard in the original Skylanders game. It’s a really mysterious track, which captures the essence of Skylanders well. I love the part when it turns up a notch, which my favourite part is at 1:48.
The Swap Force
This theme starts well, ends well, but I’m not a big fan of the electric solo at 1:05. That said, it still feels like a Skylanders theme, but never reaches the hight of the Giants theme.
Aerial Attack
You may of noticed (if you have skipped ahead to the No #1 pick) that the original Skylanders theme isn’t on this list. Instead, I prefer this action packed version from Giants. Here, Flynn’s Ship (which uses a different version of the original theme) is under attack, hence the fastness feel.
Chompy Mountain
Trap Team has probably the most diverse soundtrack of any of the games. One minute you have the fast flowing theme, next you have a mysterious Know-it-all Island, now you have the upbeat Chompy Mountain. It’s a little underused in-game, but it really does give a nice cheery feel to the level – which counteracts Buzz’s erm, way of talking to his troops. Wait to 2:03 for the track to become even louder.
Rift into Overdrive
Now we are on the latest game, Superchargers. An another great selection of music, and another great theme. It takes a little while to get going (it kicks in at 0:44), but then it keeps going with a melody and some great drum work.
Rainfish Riviera
A spiritual successor to Cutthroat Carnival, it follows a similar pattern in terms of style and structure. However, it’s just as fast flowing and adventurous! 0:35 onwards has great use of drums, while the melody is still playing in the background.
The Superchargers
There was a little confusion when the official soundtrack for superchargers got released. Is this the game’s theme, or is Rift into Overdrive? We know it’s the latter, but this could of easily of been the game’s theme. It slowly builds up until 0:30 with an action packed rift. It’s one of the strongest tracks that Lorne Balfe has done to date.
The Cloud Kingdom
I quite this track for a number of reasons. The composer has managed to capture the old skool feeling of the original game, which is a nice call back. It also has a few different section which keeps the track feeling nice and bouncy throughout. A Bunch of Skylanders
Know-It-All Island
This is quite similar to Waterdrop Way in a lot of ways. Very calming, very peaceful, and shows that Skylands isn’t just about beating the bad guys, it’s all about exploring new locations and finding it’s treasures. And that’s this track in a nutshell.
Waterdrop Way
Here comes my favourite track from Superchargers. It’s a beautiful piece of music, with a very relaxing style, which unlike some other tracks stays that way throughout it’s duration. It really works with the level it’s used in, and I hope there is some sort of remix of it in Skylanders Imaginators.
Sky Schooner Docks
If I had to pick one track that defines the beginning of the Skylanders universe, this would be the one. It screams mystery, adventure and danger all in one track. It’s when I first heard this track while playing Spyro’s Adventure for the first time that I knew the soundtrack was going to be something special, and I wasn’t wrong!
Trap Team theme
this is a funny track this, as I thought it was a bit underwhelming at first , for a theme for a game. But the more I heard it, the more impressed I was by it, now it's second favourite theme just behind Giants.
Goo Factory
Many composers use aspects of the game’s main theme in various other tracks, and the first Skylanders is no expectation. Based in a war setting, here we have a very different version of the game’s theme played with a very dangerous, war-like sound, especially when it kicks in at 1:35. I’m still surprised why this wasn’t included on the official soundtrack.
Dragon’s Peak
Many of us Spyro fans were a little disappointed that Skylanders wasn’t a true Spyro game. But this adventure pack level filled that void nicely. Set in a dragon world (which I think is the same world as where Spyro comes from), it has a very Spyro 1 feel to it, right down to the music. Still one of the best extra levels in the series, this music really gets you in the mood!
Giants Theme
Here it is ladies and gentlemen, my favourite Skylanders theme. Skylanders Giants is still my favourite game from the series, and one of those reasons is because of this fantastic theme. It has a very grand scale feeling to the track, which is why it keeps building and building… until the track ends. It doesn’t have an interlude like Swap Force, and seems more like an action packed track than the original.
Surviving Motleyville
I was a little disappointed with some of the levels in Swap Force, but this level is by far the best in the game, and one of my all time favourites. The music that accomplices the track is loud, has interesting use of voices and has a very adventurous feel. The track builds as you progress to the level, until you here this version in the video. What a great track.
Cutthroat Carnival
I was blown away the first time I heard this track, and rightly so, as it’s one of the bustiest tracks in the whole series. Many instruments are used in Cutthroat Carnival, including fantastic use of percussion and that pirate sounding instrument, which really gets you in the mood for the level.
Arkeyan Armory
My favourite track in the whole Skylanders series. What can I say about this track? It’s a perfect compliment to the Skylanders as a group of heroes. It has a very epic feel, and the way it keeps building and building until the whole orchestra nearly explodes. If I could pick one track that represents the Skylanders, this is the one that I would choose.
Closing Thoughts
Lorne Balfe has now composed five whole games, and each one still surprises with it’s quality and variety of music that’s on offer. It isn’t just a great video game soundtrack – it matches a lot of movie scores too. The music is still one of my favourite parts of the series, and I hope the composer stays on – because I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next.