As a child, there wasnâ€™t much to toys. Some of them had the He-Man waist swivel, and there were more interactive options too, like Transformers and MASK. But one thing was needed to really get any enjoyment out of them; that thing was imagination. Your toys could go wherever you wanted them to go and could be whatever you wanted them to be, but every child knew that outside of their imagination the toy was just a toy.
Having never been a part of the Skylanders craze that swept the world with Skylanders: Spyroâ€™s Adventure, I wasnâ€™t sure what to expect when I was handed the Skylanders Giants Starter Pack. However, something stirred inside me, something that hadnâ€™t been awake for quite some time. With an eagerness usually only seen on the release of new consoles, I broke into the box and removed the three starting Skylanders: a giant named Tree Rex, a series two Skylander called Cinder, and a stock standard Jet-Vac.
Along with the toys was the magical portal that plugs into the Wii U, a poster to help you keep track of the Skylanders youâ€™ve collected, and stickers that match the toys now in your possession. What I was feeling was a sincere childlike interest in what these toys could do, not with my imagination this time but with the help of technology from the 21st century.
After rushing the portal to my setup and plugging it all in, I was anticipating the moment where my first Skylander would grace the screen so much that I couldnâ€™t help but prepare by putting Tree Rex onto the portal before the game had even loaded. To my surprise - and this was genuine surprise - as I lowered Mr Rex down onto the portal his eyes and a section of his hand started to glow. I donâ€™t know what witchcraft the portal and toys utilise, but this was the first moment that made me understand what Activision have done: they beat Nintendo at their own game.
People need to understand that this game was designed to get you hooked; not just children, but anyone with any hint of an addictive personality. Never has â€śgotta catch 'em allâ€ť been more apt than with a game where you need to purchase each character to play as them. The thing is, you donâ€™t NEED any more characters than the ones you start with, but youâ€™ll slowly be introduced to other characters in some of the most obvious ways.
Want to go in this area? Oh you need a fire type Skylander for that. Oh this item? Itâ€™s a bonus move for a character you donâ€™t have. Want to see an amazingly rendered preview of the character and the amazing things it can do? All of your Skylanders have been KOâ€™d? Better restart that chapter.... unless you have another Skylander you could use. Sure you may need at least 8 Skylanders minimum to 100% story mode, but if you want to get every accolade youâ€™ll need to get your hands on at least 40 in total. You donâ€™t NEED to, but the game will surely make you, or your children, feel like you should.
This addiction would be something to look down on and warn people away from if it wasnâ€™t done so amazingly well. The toys are incredibly crafted and the witchcraft within them means that your toy is yours in every sense of the word. You can upgrade them and their skillsets, you can adorn them in different hats that alter their stats, and you can even give them nicknames so you donâ€™t get you and your friend's Pop Fizz mixed up. Everything you do with your Skylander is saved inside the toy and can be used in every platform's version of the game: it's true cross-platform gaming.
That doesnâ€™t mean there are no downsides to this new toy of the future. In the end, weâ€™re here to review games, not toys, and despite having my inner child released into the wild again, it wasnâ€™t always easy to stay there.
The biggest downfall of having these toys with memory is that if you have more than one person wanting to play the game then you sure as hell better have your own sets of toys. Once a toy has been levelled up youâ€™re either stuck with that or it needs to be reset. One Starter Pack and two children will not end well. You canâ€™t just start a new game and have zero levelled characters, you either need a second set of toys or be happy for person A to lose all their data.
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