When my friend first told me about the Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure game, and how her nine year old son just loved playing it, I had no idea what it was. Then my son came back from my friend’s house saying that Skylanders was the best thing he’d ever played and that he really wanted it for Christmas. This was unfortunate, as his list to Santa had already been finalized. However, with his piggy bank savings and some money he had been given for Christmas, he decided he had enough to embark on his very own Skylanders Adventure! I Googled the term Skylanders, and found the results very confusing, there were pages of Amazon products: some were toys, some were video games, some were for Xbox 360 and some were for Wii. I didn’t know where to start!
When I finally got things straight in my head I realized we needed to buy a “Starter Pack”. The Starter Pack contains everything you need to play the Skylanders game. It is important to buy the correct Starter Pack for your games console. There are Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure Starter Packs for the Xbox 360, Wii, PC, PlayStation3 and 3DS. Within the Starter Pack there are a number of essentials, including the video game itself and something called a Portal Of Power. The Portal Of Power is the device that connects the Skylanders toys to the video game. In addition, the pack also contains three Skylanders figures, a poster, sticker and web codes.
How Do You Play Skylanders?
OK, with our Starter Pack unpacked, we began our adventure! We have the Xbox 360 version of the game, and the portal plugs into the front of the Xbox. It does not require batteries. The other games consoles I think have wireless consoles that do need batteries. At the beginning of the game, you see an introduction, with an explanation about how you can save the Skylanders. Basically an evil character named Kaos has frozen the Skylanders characters and banished them to Earth. The player acts as a Portal Master, and by putting the figure on the portal, can bring them back to life in their world so that they can save the Skylands.
I have got to say that whoever designed the game got the interactivity of the Skylanders figures with the game just right. When you put the figure onto the portal, that character immediately appears on the screen. If you change your mind, and decide to play another figure, the video game stops, and your next character is transported to where you left off. The portal itself looks really cool, as it glows with lots of different colored lights.
The Skylanders Figures
The figures themselves are of really high quality. Activision, the publisher of the game, admitted that they had no experience with toy manufacture, and so the quality and detail they demanded of the toys was probably a great deal higher than you would typically expect. However the end result was fantastic looking toys that kids enjoy playing with even when they are not playing the video game. I know my son loves to have battles with his figures, just using his imagination.
The really amazing thing about these toy figures is that they contain technology that allows them to remember what the character has been doing in the game. This means that any upgrades and customizations you make to your character remain with your figure. You can take your Skylanders figure around to a friend’s house, and all these upgrades will still be there. The figure themselves will play on all consoles, so your character that you have upgraded on your Wii, will play fine on a friends Xbox 360.
There are eight different types of figure in the Skylanders video games because there are eight different Skylanders Elements. The Skylanders Elements are Fire, Air, Water, Undead, Tech, Magic, Life and Earth. Skylanders belonging to a particular element will have advantages in certain areas of the game, and their weapons reflect the element they belong to. The bases of the figure identify which Element the character belongs too, for example all Life Skylanders have a base decorated in leaves.
In The Spyro’s Adventure Starter Pack for Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC you get three Skylanders figure. These are Trigger Happy (A Tech figure), Gill Grunt (A Water figure) and Spyro (A Magic figure). In the 3DS version, Spyro is replaced by a special edition character called Dark Spyro. In all, there are 32 Skylanders characters in the Spyro’s Adventure video game, four for each of the elements.
Our whole family enjoyed playing the first Skylanders game. You can play as a single player, or by putting two figures on the portal you can play in two player mode. My two children loved battling together against the evil Kaos, and progressing through the different levels of the game. The graphics of both the characters and the backgrounds are beautiful in the game, and the transition from one character to the next is seamless. I think because your figure remembers upgrade and abilities, it gives you more of a sense that they are your very own Skylanders.
As well as following the story, and completing levels, you have the option of playing against friends in specially designed areas. My son and his friends really enjoyed battling their Skylanders figures against each other in this mode.
My only criticism would be that my son found the game quite easy to complete. Although it still held his interest, as there were many side quests he could go back and do, he actually completed the game within a week. However, despite this he continued to play Spyros’ Adventure, until the next installment, Skylanders Giants was released.
The Arrival Of Skylanders Giants
Skylanders Giants hit stores in October 2012, and was a very big hit in our household! Giants was designed for two groups of people: those who had played Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and those who had not. Activision devised a Starter Pack for those new to the game, containing the video game, Portal of Power and a selection of figures. They also cleverly produced a Portal Owner’s Pack that contained the video game and just one figure. The original portal works in the Giant game.
The most exciting thing about the Giants game is that there are eight actual Giant figures. These figures play differently in the video game. They are able to use their brute force to do things regular Skylanders figure cannot, such as bash holes in buildings and pick up and throw heavy objects. The Skylanders Giants figures reflect this, and are about twice the size of normal figures. The other cool thing about the Giants is that they have Lightcore technology. This means that they light up when you put them on the Portal Of Power. Each of the figures has their own different colored light effect, that was designed to enhance the figure. This feature does not require batteries and is powered by the portal itself.
In addition to the eight Giants, there are eight new Lightcore figure in the Giants game. Activision also designed eight more brand new regular Skylanders for the game, and brought back 24 of the original characters from the first game. These original characters have been reposed, so their figures look different and are known as Series 2 Skylanders.
There was a lot of confusion about Skylanders Giants when it first launched, as people were buying the Giants figures and expecting them to work on the first Spyro’s Adventure game, which is not the case. Basically all of the Skylanders figure from the first game work in the Giants game. All of the Series 2 figures in the Giants game will work in the first game. However none of the actual Giants, brand new Skylanders or Ligthcore Skylanders will work in Spyro’s Adventure. If in doubt, you can look on the side of the toys packaging, there you can see a tick or cross for which of the Skylanders games it works in.
My son loves Skylanders Giants even more that the first game. For him, he loves playing the Giant figures in the game, and loves the Giant toys. The Lightcore feature really seems to add to the figures, and my son definitely finds these the coolest. Giants also added three difficulty levels, which made the game a lot more challenging for my son. There is also apparently a nightmare mode you can play after completing the game which is even more challenging!
With the announcement of a third Skylanders game recently called Skylanders Swap Force, it looks like this franchise will be with us for a lot longer. In the Swap Force game, players can take the top from one toy, and add it to the bottom of another, on sixteen specially designed figures, giving 256 different combinations! We are however, relieved to hear that all of our Spyro’s Adventures and Giants figures will work in this new game!