Skylanders Trap Team: You gotta pick Broccoli Guy

October 16, 2014


Most of the time, it’s the object of a review to evaluate a game on its artistic merits, like what it’s trying to communicate and how it goes about delivering on that vision. With some games, though, like this fourth installment of the Skylanders series, what we’re looking at is undeniably a product: a collection of bullet points loosely tied together and pressed on a disc for consumption by mass-market shoppers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for every game, but it does make the “film criticism” school of reviews largely inappropriate.

So I’m going to follow Trap Team‘s lead and package together some bullet points for you.


  • More than any Skylanders game since the first, Trap Team is positioning itself as a first game for new players. There’s no real need for having any old figures, including Swap Force fighters or Giants, though the game supports using them if you want. It’s also heavy on the exposition and tutorials, seemingly more than last year’s installment. That means it may be a good opportunity to jump in for the first time, and a less-than-ideal return trip for those worried about feeling series fatigue.
  • Original developer Toys for Bob took off last year’s game to work on this one after the recycled half-effort that was Giants. Visually, you can see that the time allowed for some fresh creativity, as environments and interfaces were re-thought and worked on heavily. Mechanically and in respect to level design, it’s not really here at all; the developer knows one way to do things, and the only steps ahead here are the ones Vicarious Visions brought to the table with last year’s Swap Force.
  • Remember when I said that the game generally doesn’t care if you have old figures or not? That extends to the elemental gates and secret areas, which require not just new Skylanders, but a specific subset of new Skylanders called Trap Masters to access. This is an arbitrary way of making players buy at least eight new figures to access all the areas, and it feels dirty, especially since the starter set only includes one.


  • Also among the new figures are a category of Skylander we’ve seen occasionally, but never to this extent: Minis. Little versions of fan favorites are playable, largely with the same moves and such and a pitched-up voice track, so it probably wasn’t much development work. Unless you care about getting a sufficient amount of plastic surrounding your RFID chip for your figure gaming dollar, you probably won’t mind these li’l guys.
  • The name of the game’s derived from the new mechanic that allows you to capture and temporarily use the game’s enemies. This is done through translucent “traps” that you have to buy, each only able to store an enemy of a certain element. There are actually lots of trap designs, so the figure completionist is in for a rough time, but if you just want to do everything in the game, you only need one of each type.
  • Speaking of trapped enemies: Broccoli Guy. You will hate Broccoli Guy, but then you will learn to love Broccoli Guy, because all of a sudden you’ll have a near-endless supply of healing for all your Skylanders and it will be great and it will be because of Broccoli Guy. Thankfully, the starter set includes the Life Trap you need for Broccoli Guy.


  • Trap Team isn’t afraid of making references to other popular games, and it’s also not afraid of those references being somewhat less than current. There’s a minigame seemingly mimicking the karaoke portions of Rock Band, as well as challenges based on Angry Birds and a return of the Skystones card game with a totally new set of mechanics and general configuration.
  • There’s a new tower defense mode, which doesn’t really bring much in the way of strategy, but it’s at least a more compelling experience than the purely wave-based arenas. (Of course, well, those are still here too.) On higher levels, it does start to tax experienced characters to decide what area most needs your attention, and in those times, it’s best to bring a friend along.
  • Activision continues to pay for the top-notch voice talent usually seen in Saturday morning cartoons. (Though with the death of the latter, maybe the pay doesn’t need to be so enticing?) The main characters get most of the work, so it’s sad that you’ll hear more from the game’s lesser villains as they blabber at you from traps through the portal speaker.


Okay, so there’s all that stuff. But should you get it? Here at Snackbar, our 3/5 rating has always meant “Bargain Bin,” but never has that distinction been more apt. Usually, we’re talking about diminished expectations, but Trap Team actually becomes an objectively better game without the financial pressures associated with paying full price for the eight Traps and eight Trap Masters you really need to get a full experience. And as a first Skylanders game, it’s no more demanding a commitment, and in that context, some questionable design decisions simply don’t arise.

But again, this is a product, so it’s really just about whether you like enough of those bullet points.

Pros: Revamped aesthetics, fun character designs, Skystones Smash is compelling
Cons: Increased buy-’em-all pressures, weak integration of old figures, boring level mechanics

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.