Live from New York City, it’s Skylanders! It may not seem so long ago, but Skylanders is nearing the four year mark since Toys for Bob unleashed the original concept on audiences. Since then, we’ve seen the franchise grow, incorporating Giants and new characters which could swap body parts on the fly. Welcome to the next evolution in the Skylanders franchise.
We’re in the Big Apple to see what Activision and returning developer Toys for Bob has cooked up. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg takes the stage to welcome everyone to the event, right after series villain Kaos gets done grilling him…with DOOOOOOOM!
Hirshberg gives us a quick history lesson of the franchise, explaining how Skylanders has become not only the fastest selling franchise to hit the $2 billion mark, but a franchise that regularly outsells established action figure lines as well. In fact, Skylanders regularly outsells at least three of these other franchises, every single year.
All in all, that translates to over 127 million copies of the game that has shipped since the original was introduced to the world. Any way you slice it, those are some pretty damn impressive numbers.
“How we got here as a franchise, is important to where we’re going next’, says Hirschberg.
Disruptive innovation is what got us here, and disruptive innovation is what will keep us here.Our strategy with Skylanders is simple. We make kids say ‘wow’ for a living. And when you make kids say wow, incremental updates is not enough.
Hirshberg then described the various franchises, discussing the strategy of ‘perpetual innovation’ that has driven each one, from the debut Spyro adventure, through to Giants and Swap Force.
“For the last three years, we’ve allowed players to bring their toys to life in the video games,'” Hirshberg explains. “This year, we’re bringing life to toys outside of the video games”.
And it’s official! The next game in the franchise is Skylanders Trap Team. We’re shown a quick trailer, and introduced to new characters such as Snap Shot, Traptanium which forms the core focus of this game and all new villains such as Wolfgang, a rock ‘n roll hound with an Axe to musically grind.
We get treated to a short battle, where Snap Shot and his allies defeat Wolfgang, then call on the player to use the new Traptanium crystal to trap him and turn him good. And that’s what makes this version of Skylanders different. You’re not just fighting and defeating villains, you’re recruiting them as well to your side.
All in all, there’ll be sixty new Skylanders, and forty villains to duke it out with and convert to your side. Each crystal is unique to a villain, and for the first time ever, you’ll be able to have Kaos fight on your side.
“Traptanium. The only substance in all of Skylands capable of imprisoning the baddest of the baddest. You truly can capture evil and unleash good,’ Hirshberg tells the audience. Next up, we have Paul Reiche, the studio head of Toys for Bob and the returning developer this year.
‘We’re going to leap forward once again and redefine how kids play,’ Reiche explains.
We now live in a world where kids expect all their toys to come to life. We challenged ourselves to take the magical innovation of Skylanders further than ever before. We’re bringing life into the toys.
Reiche then goes into detail about trap mode for us. Once again, Kaos has come up with another plan to conquer the Skylands, by recruiting the most wanted villains who happen to be stuck in jail and under watch of the Trap Masters. As usual, Kaos goes completely overboard, causing an explosion that sends heroes and villains everywhere, as well the rare Traptanium element that is used to cage the most wanted.
That’s where the player comes in, as they’ll be using the Trap Masters and their Traptanium weapons to recapture and recruit the big bads. From there Toys for Bob’s Lou Studdert and Elias Jiminez give us a live demo on the PlayStation 4. And Trap Team looks rather fantastic on a visual level, clearly taking advantage of the new hardware.
The characters look more detailed, the worlds have more facets to them and the action is running at a buttery-smooth frame-rate that doesn’t dip. Jiminez uses SnapShot to take on the Chompy Mage, a demented wizard who is one sock short of a another puppet on his hand that he can talk to and plot with and you get the idea.
SnapShot does battle with the fourth- wall breaking villain, eventually defeating him and using one of the new crystals to trap him. It’s actually pretty funny, especially when Chompy Mage protests all the way into his new prison.
As Studdert explains, each villain was designed to be unique, and to use their individuality to create bizarre and signature battles, influencing how they fight.
“You just saw how we reached into the game, and dragged the Chompy Mage kicking and screaming, and turning him into a toy” Studdert says to us, before bringing the Chompy Mage back into the game, this time on the side of the angels.
All those moves that he used against us, we get to use against the Skyland villains. As the Chomp Mage you’re able to summon your own chompies, use the staff to create a chomp wallop and turn into a mega chompy and unleash chompy-waves.
Elias then summons a new villain, Chill Bill, who is essentially a winter goblin. From that point, we’re shown another key feature of the game: Tag team action.
Players will be able to switch back and forth between their Skylander and a trapped villain turn good, on the fly. What this does is open up new gameplay opportunities, such as when we defeat the troll duo Shrednaught by dealing big damage with Spine Shot and then freezing him with Chill Bill.
Now not only do we have a new villain, but one who is rather handy in a close quarters fight.
Each of the trapmasters has their own unique traptanium weapon that allows them to access secret areas, and get a damage boost against the most wanted villains. “A big lumbering lumberjack tank driven by two trolls” is how Studdert describes his latest addition to his growing roster.
Long time Skylanders fans are also being rewarded, as Trap Team will support every single Skylander figure released so far. Every. Single. One. So at least you’ll be able to pull in some support from your collection when the game is released. Once again, it’s a whole new game. But that’s good. Whereas Swap Force gave you the opportunity to mix and match your heroes, Trap Team gives you the chance to make a hero out of the villain.
October 5 is when Skylanders releases around the world. And according to their research (Showing kids the game and gauging their reactions), the game is already rated 999 999 999. Of DOOOOOOOOOOOM!
Last Updated: April 24, 2014