As kids, we dreamed of bringing our action figures to life. While technology hasn’t advanced quite that far yet, this game gets pretty close. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is a new game for a classic character, Spyro the Dragon, who was first introduced in a title for the original Sony PlayStation console in 1998. The game can be a lot of fun for the whole family, but you may end up shelling out more for add-ons than you’d expect.
Although Skylanders is geared to children, the game is fairly deep. The plotline: The evil Portal Master Kaos banishes Spyro and his friends to Earth, where they shrink and become frozen. When the player, who is also a Portal Master, places characters on the Portal of Power, they can return to life in Skyland and become playable characters in the game.
The Portal of Power is piece of hardware that connects to your gaming console via USB (or via an infrared connection, for the Nintendo 3DS). The Portal “reads” the figure and then places it in the game. Swapping characters is as simple as replacing the figure on the Portal. The game comes with three character figures (including Spyro), but you can buy and collect over 30 additional ones.
Skylanders is available for the PC, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo 3DS. In the console and PC versions, each level is fairly large and open, with numerous areas to explore. As you play, you use your characters’ unique abilities to take down monsters and solve puzzles to help to save the citizens of Skyland from the dark forces of Kaos. It is truly a rewarding experience when you clear a maze and earn a new ability or piece of equipment for your character.
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The 3DS version of the game takes place in a different location, known as Radiant Isles; here, the main villain is Hektore. This version is more focused on action, so puzzles are replaced by obstacles, such as pits of fire and falling rocks. Challenges include clearing enemies within a certain time limit or completing a level without being hit, to unlock hidden items and upgrades for your characters.
In all versions, your characters earn experience points that can be used to upgrade their abilities and make them stronger, helping you to clear more difficult portions of the game. Characters can also be customized with hats that you can purchase with money earned in the game or by completing challenges and solving puzzles. Character customization is saved to the figure, so if you’re playing at a friend’s house, you can still bring your unique character and keep any of the upgrades you earn.
The game markets itself very well: While playing, you’ll find special abilities for characters that you probably don’t own yet. You are then treated to a video of those characters. Each character also represents a “life” in the game, so the more of them you have, the more chances you have to complete a level. Your kids will definitely want to acquire every character.
At $70 for the starter kit and $8 for each additional character figure, Skylanders can get pricey. But the collectible figures make great holiday gifts. And you’ll probably have as much fun playing this game as your kids will.