It’s that time of year again, when the jolly red fat man breaks into our houses, steals our whiskey and eats all the cookies. Yes, Uncle Fester’s drunken cousin is coming to visit which means we also need to brave the shops and find something for the ankle biters in our family. Obviously Activision would like that something to be this year’s version of Skylanders, but do we really need yet another version of the game?
Ever since the original Skylanders was released, the franchise has proven to be incredibly popular among kids and parents alike. So much so that now both Nintendo (Amiibo) and Disney (Disney Interactive) have joined the party and released their own versions of “toys to life” gaming.
As a result, Activision have been forced to stay on their toes to ensure the annual release is different enough to make parents cough up even more cash year after year to keep their kids entertained.
Skylanders’ claim to fame was that they broke the wall between video games and physical characters. Each Skylander purchased from stores is embedded with a NFC chip that allows you to change their name, level them up, and even take them to a friend’s house to use there, regardless of gaming platform.
The figures are well known for being exceptionally well made with the artwork and design being top class.
The iterations that have been released so far are: the original Skylanders, Skylander Giants, and then last year’s Skylanders Swap Force.
Last year, the big change was that the figurines could be split in half and joined with other figurines to create brand new Skylanders. The innovation was fantastic. However, the story didn’t really capture the imagination of my kids and while they enjoyed it, they stopped playing it relatively quickly.
Activision learned from that and have dramatically improved the fun side of the game again and while the story isn’t long (a quick run through takes around 6 hours) the game has enough side quests and challenges to keep the kids coming back for more. In fact, my children are on their second full playthrough using different characters while also going back to the original save on a regular basis to open new areas and to continue exploring. I haven’t seen my kids this addicted to a game since the Minecraft pandemic of early 2014.
Activision has multiple development teams so that each annual release has enough time devoted to it. Trap Team sees the original developers, Toys for Bob, return to the scene.
The story once again revolves around Chaos who has been your nemesis throughout the Skylanders life span. I have to admit that this is something I’d like to see change in the next version.
This year, the reason you are chasing down Chaos is because he’s broken the worst criminals out of the local Skylander prison. Your job is to hunt them all down and trap them using the magical Traptonium crystals.
One of the biggest reasons for the game’s popularity is traps, the new innovation that has been added. You can use any trap to catch any criminal. However, if you want to then play as that captured character you are going to need a trap that matches the element they’re based on.
In Skylanders Trap Team you not only can buy extra normal Skylanders, but you can also buy mini Skylanders, which are apparently the cutest things on the planet. Additionally, you can purchase Trapmasters who are extremely powerful. Most importantly you buy traps. Each trap is for a certain elemental force such as Technology, Earth, Water, Fire and Undead, but there is also a very limited stock of the Chaos trap which I’m still yet to find.
Capturing characters opens the game up massively. Kids seem to adore being able to capture the bad guys and listen to them shout out from the portal. Oh did I forget to mention the new portal has a speaker built in which allows the Skylanders to talk to you directly? It is more than a little weird but really adds to the immersion of the game.
What really struck me about the game though is not the story which is predictably simplistic but the amount of effort that has obviously gone into giving the characters their own personalities and abilities. No two characters are the same and you would be hard pressed to not only to find a personal favourite, but also to not want to head to the shops and buy more at every opportunity.
We now have quite the substantial collection at home and it really makes me happy that I can still use the original Spyro from the first game in the latest iteration. This is a blessing to parents as you are able to continously grow the collection instead of having to start again every year.
Last Updated: December 17, 2014