Some companies make very engrossing games. Some make sequel after sequel that are so astonishing that they can do no wrong. Then, there are games that are made to be just pure evil – the evil that sucks every bit of spare change from your wallet – such a game…….is SKYLANDERS.
Oh yes, don’t let the sunny, happy picture surprise you. Activision was very sneaky in releasing this, of what was to be a series of games based in a universe spawned by Spyro the Dragon. Don’t get me wrong, I really DO like this game – it’s a lot of fun, but it’s the collecting aspect that will get you where you least expect it.
This is a straight-up adventure game with a good story. You are sent to help the residents of Skylands overthrow the evil Kaos. How do you do this? With your Skylanders of course! You start off the adventure with 3 characters that come with the game and portal – one of each of 3 different elements – you get Spyro (Magic) – of course, Gill Grunt (Water), and Trigger Happy (Tech). As you go through the game, you find there are 8 different elements represented, and to get into certain areas, you have to have a character of that element – the plot thickens!
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this – you can buy characters that are of the various elements that you can also use in the game that will help you on your journey. Each character has their own unique power-ups and abilities, and have their own style. The figures are colorfully done, and are well-crafted, and will look great on a portal – or on your shelf. To completely beat the game, you will need to purchase at least 5 more characters – one for each element, but that is enough to complete everything in the game. But wait! Did you know that there are actually 4 characters of each element, for a total of 32? If you have more than one character of an element, you get elemental bonuses, so of course you (or your kids) will want to buy them all! Here’s the trick though – they come out in “waves” and if you don’t get them when they first come out, you will likely miss out unless they are re-supplied (or you pay scalper’s fees on eBay), and some are limited release too (or store exclusive), making them even harder to get. There were also “legendary” versions, which were repainted characters with slightly higher stats, and were decorated in black & gold – oh, and they also had ones that were silver, gold, pearl, solid red, solid blue – yeah……..they were meticulous in their evilness when releasing this stuff. They knew collectors were gonna eat this up. Oh, but they were not done yet!
Next, came Skylanders Giants – a new adventure with even more characters to choose from, along with GIANT characters that were not only larger in the game, but also had much larger figures to go with them! The only flaw in this was that the adventure was shorter by a number of levels, but I think they made up for that with even MORE variations of figures, because now you have LightCore Skylanders, which have a power that none of the other ones have. The figures from the first game work just fine in the second, but not vice versa. You are lured into buying the “Series 2” figures (reissues of the first characters), because they are not only posed differently, but they have a new “Wow Pow” power that the first ones just don’t have (and can’t inherit by putting a Series 1 game into the new one), so off you go to further empty your wallet buying even MORE figures – including alt decos, store exclusives, and ones that (until recently) could only be bought with a new videogame system. At least with this one you can buy a “Starter Pack”, which includes the game, a WIRED portal (YES!), 1 giant, 1 new character, and 1 series 2 re-issue, or you can get the “Portal Owners Pack”, which includes just the game and the Giant. Trust me – get the Starter Pack – if nothing else but for the wired portal – your battery budget will thank you later.
So now you’re up to what – 85 or 90 characters total? Yes, there are that many! But wait – it’s not over yet! Skylanders Swap Force is coming out! Here’s the twist – you can’t get a “Portal Owners Pack” like you could with Giants! Why? Because of the new Swap Force characters that are 2-part figures that you can swap the tops and bottoms of to create different combinations – 16 characters that have a total of 256 different combinations! Well, I suppose that’s worth it, AND they stated EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER released to date WILL WORK in the new game! Nice to know that Wham Shell figure that I scoured for months for will still be playable when this one comes out. But you see how this is an ongoing saga of spending happiness? If you have the money and the time, get it. If you don’t, hide it from your kids forever, because once they are enticed, your budget will be shot for many months to come.
Yes Activision, you are evil – very very evil. Oh but wait……..Disney is coming out with Disney Infinity soon! But that……..is another rant altogether.