Skylanders – Magic In A Modern World

Imagine you are your younger self. You are browsing through your gaming catalog and you see your favourite purple dragon and an announcement that he is in a new game! WOW!


SKY - Chars

But that is not all, young reader; far from it. You will be able to get a figure of your favourite purple dragon! Oh, ummmm, okay, you may think.
That figure can be put on a portal accessory and transport you favourite purple dragon INTO THE GAME?! WOWOWOWOW!

This is what Skylanders does, and it adds 31 other figures alongside Spyro.

Sky - All Dem Figs
Plenty of colourful characters. =D

When I heard about this, I was doubtful of it’s motives, yet enchanted by it’s concept. I could only see myself as a younger form, looking longly at the magic and marvel behind these characters bursting into life before my eyes.

A couple of years ago, I bought the starter set and a number of the cute and colourful Skylanders and, while I had a bit of fun, I didn’t really appreciate the depth of design that went into the game.
Now, while I have dwindling funds, I feel compelled to complete the game with all it’s achievements and then get it into the hands of a younger who will hopefully enjoy the spectacle a lot more. =]

Yet, since returning to the franchise, I am enchanted by it all, so much more. While this game is reasonable in play and offers up some reasonable dungeon-crawling with mild platforming and the occasional puzzle here and there, it storms the shelves around the world.
I feel it does this through it’s inherent feature of magical spectacle; and the game sure feeds off of it.

Sky - Shelves
Shelves of characters and expansions, just for the first game…

You start the game with whichever Skylander you desire. I was a big fan of “Prism Break,” a rock elemental with crystals for hands which he uses to shoot energy beams from. I named him Blocky. /^-^\
You place the character into the Portal Of Power and they are in the game. It is really kinda cool.

Sky - Prism Break
Blocky shooting some beams!

Anyway, when you start, you get thrown straight into a level and seen learn that the game has multiple secret areas. Some of these areas are tucked away behind walls or located off camera [grrr], but many of them are sealed behind elemental gateways. These gateways are unlocked by walking a Skylander of the corresponding element towards it. This actively encourages the player to buy more Skylanders to access all of the areas – clever, eh?
But, more to the point, it allows the game to show off it’s magic. You remove the character that you are playing from the Portal Of Power. The game stops and a swirling magical storm consumes the screen. You play your new character onto the portal and suddenly your character bursts forth from the magical storm and straight back into the game. WOW!

The gameplay, itself, is similar to your dungeon crawlers like the Gauntlet games, or the more recent Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team.
As you defeat enemies, you gain experience, levels and powers. After a certain amount of abilities, each Skylander has a forked skill tree and allows you to specialise a character towards your preferred play-style. It’s a nice touch of personalisation to make PvP a little more varied.
Also, HATS!
As of the first game, Skylanders cap out at Level 10, though I’m sure that was expanded upon in the later games.
There are many collectibles through each level, including Treasures, Hats and Hidden Abilities for each Skylander.

Sky - Flame
Flameslinger certainly brought back some Gauntlet-esque memories for me! =]

As well as new characters, each Skylander has a Skill Challenge associated with them, so if buying a new character wasn’t enough, you gain a new level which every existing Skylander in your collection can play and boost their stats. It is a nice little extra which I hadn’t quite picked up on until my return to Skylanders.

But, this isn’t to say that the game is perfect…

The biggest flaw in the series, in my mind, is the fact that it is attached to the Spyro series. Spyro isn’t the same dragon I once knew and his “bad-boy” attitude is tedious at best. Fortunately, he doesn’t get much to say; but what he does say is really annoying…

The gameplay can grow a little repetitive over long sessions of play, but that may be more to do with the fact I was playing large portions of the game in a singular sessions.

Obviously, the game lends itself towards the financial commitment of buying all the characters and having a great time, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
The three characters who come in the starter set are more than capable. Spyro is kinda lame, but he can fly. Gill Grunt can get an overpowered ranged attack which defeats most enemies in a matter of seconds, and Trigger Happy… Well, he has dual pistols and a mounted machine gun which fires gold pieces at enemies; need I say anymore?
More to the point, they are a reasonable team which can get through the game with enough bonuses unlocked.

Sky - Gill
Gill Grunt hosing some foes!

I’m a little biased, but I really enjoyed my adventures in the Skylands. The game has a charming, if not cliched story of good versus evil and features enough jokes to entertain both children and adults.
The gameplay features a nice sense of progression and reminds me of many hours spent delving into Gauntlet Dark Legacy. ^^
But more than anything, it reminded me of playing nice colourful adventure games as a child. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder whenever I placed a new Skylander onto the portal and have him airdrop into combat.

Sure, Activision suck, but Skylanders is a nice vibrant and unique game in a world of gritty, modern, first-person-shooters. Hell, there is a reason why Nintendo and Disney are copying the concept. =P

Sky - Infinity
An aisle of Disney Infinity. Seem familiar?

Ellen is a strange one who doesn’t own any of the pictures used in this article. That may or may not be due to the absence of pictures used in this article. What are pictures? Are they a visual medium used to convey images of things elsewhere in this world? Or are they a construct in your mind? Hmmm?
Ellen has decided to use pictures, cos this game is SOoOoOo colourful but, regardless, she doesn’t own them. If that was even a realistic concept. You can’t, like, own a picture, man… Wait, yes you can?!

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