About the Game Series
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.
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.
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
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
There 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.