Even with peripheral knowledge of the Spyro franchise, I haven’t spent much of my gaming time over the years playing as the little dragon. With the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, that has changed in a big way.
Skylanders is sold as a Starter Pack, which includes a Portal of Power that connects to your console, the game and three character figures. As you start the game, you are asked to place your character of choice on the Portal which controls which character you are in the game. You can change characters at any time by simply swapping which character is on the Portal. Additional characters are available in single and three-character packs, and each character has a specific element they are associated with such as Undead, Magic, or Air.
As you grow and power up your character, the abilities and stats are saved back to the actual figure, so they are available to any user or version of the game you might be playing. Activision also sells Adventure Packs, which unlock additional quests and missions within the game. The addictive nature of collecting the figures, which unlock additional in-game content, has created high levels of demand for the little creatures, as evidenced by the astronomical prices the figures are demanding on Amazon and eBay.
The game itself is a pretty traditional third-person adventure game. You progress through the game, completing objectives and defeating hordes of bad guys and defeating puzzles. The number of characters you own does come into play in a few areas. First, there are gates that can only be opened by characters of a specific element which means you can’t fully complete the game without owning at least one character of each element. Second, if you die while playing as a character, they must rest for a period of time before being used again. These two factors make it pretty obvious that most of us will not be content with just the Starter Pack, and Activision knows this. Well played, Activision.
The adventure portion of the game, excluding the additional adventure packs, actually has quite a bit of content. Throw in the challenges and the suite of mini-games that are included, and Skylanders has enough content to keep your kids busy for some time. Despite being released in 2011, Skylanders has the potential to be a game that you’ll play through a good portion of 2012 (depending on how quickly Activision can ship additional Adventure Packs).
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is a very solid gaming experience that is suitable for kids of all ages. It can be played just fine with nothing more than a Starter Pack, but also appeals to the collectors out there that want to experience every character available. Skylanders falls squarely into the Must Buy category for me. Just be warned: its addictive nature will burn a hole in your wallet.
Pros: Fun adventure, cool technology, fun for kids and adults
Cons: It’s going to take all of your money