Growing up we all did it, we all played with action figures (they’re not dolls, I promise!). Personally, I would dream up entire books worth of story-lines with my plastic friends: betrayals, villains, the occasional romance, I had it all. Well, except the awesome set-pieces and CG effects that I envisioned in my head. However, the creators behind the critically and commercially-acclaimed Skylanders franchise had people just like me in mind. If you for some reason don’t know what this series is, it’s the perfect blend of video games and toys, the two most immersive experiences there are. Using an ingenious method of literally scanning your toys into the game and then playing as them, Skylanders is a cash cow that I’m honestly surprised took this long for someone to do.
With the latest entry in the franchise, Swap Force, some welcome changes have been made to both the toy and gaming aspects. For instance, almost all of the new toys are able to be “swapped”, which in essence means you can switch the tops and bottoms of your toys effortlessly to create your own unique toy. Of course, if you’re not interested in playing with these, it helps that the game portion is actually quite fun on its own. The 3DS version is also actually unique to its console counterparts in that it features a completely different storyline, villain, and levels. Additionally, this version is much more streamlined compared to the other games in that you only have to scan the toys once and then you have full access to them for the entirety of the game. While the younger audience might be disappointed that they don’t get to whip out their favorite toy every time they need to switch characters, others (including me) will enjoy not having to keep them all out while playing.
In fact, this being such a linear experience is honestly not a bad thing. The story begins with a brand new villain, Count Moneybones, who provides a welcome break from the dastardly deeds of Kaos. Though the story is your typical save the world experience, it’s not necessarily the reason someone would play this game in the first place. As for the voice acting, it is actually rather good, though I’m not surprised as Activision typically has a level of quality that must be met.
Broken up into fairly straightforward missions in which you fight your way from point A to point B with occasional side paths to treasure and very simplistic puzzles, Skylanders is a game for young children. There are also optional side missions that can be found within the level itself which has its own stipulations, such as a certain affiliated element type (fire, water, etc) or special power (flying). Some of the levels also end in a tougher battles consisting of a boss or waves of enemies, but don’t expect anything extremely challenging. In between missions, you’ll find yourself in Flynn’s, Skyland’s favorite pilot, hometown of Boomtown, which serves as your hub world. There you can chat with the locals, check out your own personal museum for the Skylanders you’ve collected, and advance the plot.
Playing time wise, you’ll have the aforementioned story beaten in around 5 hours, but the journey doesn’t have to end there. There is plenty of room for re-playability in trying to achieve a higher score on your favorite levels, not to mention experimenting with new toys and play-styles. Of course, no one has to know if you happen to play with the toys themselves, as they are each uniquely designed and have their own individual personality. That individuality actually translates to the game itself, with each character playing differently. Some shoot fireballs, others water lasers, while still more can fly up into the sky for a limited time and avoid enemies. However, every Skylander can jump, which is necessary in platforming-centered sections, but the jumping mechanic can feel clunky and hard to get used to. Other than that, the controls are sharp and responsive.
Overall, Swap Force 3DS is an answer for anybody looking for a fun, on-the-go action adventure. Not only is this a game for adults, but it’s also kid-friendly as well and the welcome addition of new Skylanders plus the ability to now swap out parts to make your own unique characters, shows that there is definitely still room for innovation and growth in this family-focused franchise. This fantastic collaboration of games and toys appears to be going stronger than ever with thankfully, no end in sight.
Similar articles from around the web