Date Completed: January 24th, 2014
I’ve been on a bit of hiatus from my blog due to a temporary case of homelessness. My wife became pregnant with our third child so we had to upgrade our home. Since she couldn’t take care of two boys and keep our previous home ready to show we decided to move in with my in-laws while our house was listed. Unfortunately my in-laws live in the country and horror of horrors they have no broadband internet! My cell phone was my only window to the world for four months. Long story short, I’m back now and ready to write again.
I knew I wanted to get a game for my kids for Christmas but I couldn’t decide between Disney Infinity or Skylanders SwapForce. I spent a lot of time researching the two games and while I was more interested in the Disney Infinity characters Skylanders appeared to have the better ratings on GameRankings. Finally the decision was made for me when Amazon offered Skylanders as one of their lightning deals.
Skylanders is an action game with a twist. You get a USB ‘Portal of Power’ that you set actions figures on. Action figures appear on-screen in the game and can then be controlled by the player. Once my kids saw that portal light up and the figures appear on-screen they were hooked.
I gave the game to my oldest son and I picked up a few extra characters so my younger son could have a few as well. I didn’t know anything about the game so I picked characters I thought they’d like. I didn’t realize that you have to purchase specific characters to get past certain areas in the game. The game has 8 different elements and certain gates can only be opened by a Skylander of the matching element. If you do the match that means you need to buy an additional five toys just to have access to all the game content. We ended up hitting Toys R Us several times to pick up additional characters, and I even bought a number of characters for myself because my boys didn’t always pick Skylanders of the elements we needed. Toys R Us has an irritating habit of constantly having Skylanders on sale, so we’ve picked up far more figures than we really needed now.
As I’ve already mentioned each Skylander has a different element and some of the optional areas requires a specific element is used to unlock a gate. Swap-Force Skylanders can exchange the top and bottom halves of their bodies (Which is new to this game) and become dual-element, so to reflect this there are also dual-element gates. Swap-Force Skylanders also have special abilities (e.g. climb, dig, teleport and rocket) that let them participate in challenge zones found throughout the levels. If you do the math this means to access 100% of the content in the game you’ll need to buy at least 6 Skylander action figures (the game comes with two), being careful that you get complete coverage of the elements and special abilities.
Activision helpfully shipped the game with a poster of all of the other Skylanders that you can purchase for your kids. My boys kept the poster up in their room and my oldest son spent most of his time in January copying the names of Skylanders down onto shopping lists for me, or anyone else he thinks might have enough money to buy him a Skylander. It’s been a great learning tool for him. Thanks to the copious amounts of Skylander lists he’s made he (in my humble opinion) has the best handwriting in his preschool class and he can now recognize words like ‘Legendary Free-Ranger’ and ‘Lava Barf Eruptor’ which is a bit beyond the normal ‘See Spot Run’ reading he’d been doing.
We managed our way through the game by having play while the boy managed the portal of power. Eventually I realized the game is actually TWO player and my older son was able to participate. He had some trouble with the jumping and platforming sections but otherwise he turned out to be surprisingly capable. He’s currently working his way through the game on his own, on an easier difficulty.
Long story short, buying Skylanders was opening a bag of worms I didn’t understand. Both boys wanted Skylanders for their birthdays. We have Skylander companion apps on our iOS devices now. We have Skylanders clothing, stuffed animals and we found cheap copies of the original two Skylanders games on eBay. My older son has a Skylanders chart and is currently doing chores to save up enough money to buy Skylanders Trap Team when it releases in October. It looks like we’ll be living with Skylanders for quite awhile.
- USB Portal of Power.
- Action figures can be used in the game.
- Kids love it!
- You’ll have to buy a lot of toys to unlock 100% of the game.
- Your children may obsess over it.
Genre: Action / Adventure