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Skylanders Trap Team pre-orders will get you access to a bonus figure

Don't miss your chance to get her!
Jun 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Starting today, Skylanders fans that pre-order Trap Team will be given access to a bonus figure. New character Gearshift (pictured above) will be offered in limited supply, and this marks the first time fans will be able to b...
MONEY photo

Life in plastic, it's fantastic: Skylanders has made 2 billion dollars

In less than three years
Apr 29
// Steven Hansen
Floating placidly in our oceans, far out of sight and out of mind, are near-invisible islands of trash. Plastics and chemical sludge metastasizing. One day, Skylanders toys will float out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. ...

The next Skylanders borrows a little from the Pokemon series

Apr 23 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Skylanders Trap Team (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Toys for Bob (last-gen) / Beenox (current-gen, 3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: October 5, 2014MSRP: $74.99 (Game, Portal, figure, two Traps) The story sees Invader Zim Chaos trying to take over Skylands ... again. This time, however, he's going to enlist a group of villains trapped in a prison made out of Traptanium, the hardest material known to Skylanders. Chaos' plan works, sort of -- he's able to free the villains, but they all just escape instead of joining up with him. Enter the Trap Masters, the main draw of Trap Team. These Skylanders are bigger than normal core characters, but not as big as the Giants. The Trap Masters are skilled with all things Traptanium, and all their weapons are made out of the substance, shown off as see-through crystals in the game and the toys themselves. There's going to be around 50 new Skylanders, made up of a mix of these Trap Masters, new core characters, and reposed fan-favorite Skylanders. And of course all the previous Skylanders, Giants, and Swap Force heroes will work in Trap Team. Now here's the surprise, there's going to be over 40 playable villains as well that you'll have to physically capture, so to speak. "Pretty much the biggest thing we've done is this idea of constantly innovating," executive producer Jeff Poffenbarger told Destructoid. "Bringing toys to life was the first initial big innovation. We can certainly just continue to do that, but for us we asked ourselves 'What would even take that a step further?' We know we can bring toys to life ... but we also wanted to figure out how to reverse that magic. So you can bring toys to life, but how do we bring life to toys?" All of the escaped villains can be converted over to your team. Take them on, defeat them, and then capture them in a new special crystal toy. So yeah, kind of like Pokemon. Once an enemy has been defeated, players are told to insert a special crystal into the new version of the Portal of Power. It's actually a really cool effect, as the audio from the TV gets outputted into the Portal itself (and vice-versa) as they get sucked in and out of the adventure. Villains will also give you feedback, help, and advice from the Portal when not in use. One of the first major bosses is called Chompy Mage (pictured in the lead image), a crazy old guy who fights with a sock puppet on his hand (kind of like the Ventriloquist from the Batman series.) He can summon little tiny monsters, and later in the battle he'll transform into this giant jumpy gross monster thing. After he joins your team, all the power sets he used on you are now yours. While some villains are powerful in this way, there will be some with more passive abilities. One example shown was a mini-boss troll that can use a gun to freeze opponents. He can't really do damage, just freeze enemies. Those playing by themselves can actually hotswap between a Skylander and a villain with the press of the button to take advantage of this ability. Or say a parent can play as the ice troll to let their kid be more of the main star in the game. Traditional co-op with multiple Skylanders is still in the game too. So a cool concept, but here's where it gets kind of dumb. You can only save one villain into a Trap toy at a time. That I kind of don't have a problem with. You can at least store villains at a new hub location so you can swap villains in and out as desired into a crystal. The dumb part is that the Trap toys are all elemental based. So you can only store an ice based villain inside of an ice Trap toy, for example. My main concern is that this is going to get more expensive for fans than ever before. I'm just hoping the Trap Hero toys will include their respective Trap toy too. Plus these things are tiny compared to even the tiniest Skylander figure, and could potentially get lost really easily. Collectors be warned: There will be multiple variants of the Trap toys themselves as well. That said, you don't have to capture the villains, just like how you don't need all of the elemental types of Skylanders to beat the games. So what happens if you don't want to -- or just can't -- capture a villain after defeating them? Toys for Bob is still figuring that out, having kids and adults of all ages try out the game to find the best solution for everybody. Otherwise players can expect similar approaches to the mini-games, competitive multiplayer, the cross-platform saves, and the return of the jump mechanic from the past games. The visuals are just as gorgeous as ever, especially on the current generation of hardware. You know how you've always wished that the CG sequences from a game was what you were actually playing? That's Trap Team, essentially. The great visuals extend down to the toys themselves too, looking more detailed than ever. So yeah, Skylanders Trap Team. If you're a fan of the series, you already know you'll be picking this one up. I did want to make some special mentions of other playable characters before you leave. There's Chopper, a new core hero who's a little tiny T-rex with a helicopter rotor on its back. It can fly in the air and shoots swarms of missiles like it was straight out of Robotech. Then there's a duo team of villain trolls who control a walking chainsaw tank. Just let that visual sink into your head. Also SPOILERS Chaos himself is playable.
Skylanders Trap Team photo
Skylanders Trap Team has you capturing and reforming villains to your team
The developers at Toys For Bob are back in the saddle with Skylanders Trap Team, the next entry in their hit toys-meet-videogame franchise. This time the hook involves you capturing villains and enslaving brainwashing reform...


You have a chance to name these three new Skylanders

Let's all go in together to name the dolphin one Max Scoville
Feb 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Frito-Lay and Activision are holding a little promotion to let fans name these three brand new Skylander characters that will appear in the next game coming out in 2014. There's just something so off about that dolphin creatu...

Skylanders series has made over $2 billion worldwide

Feb 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Another reveal from today's Activision Q4 results was that the Skylanders series has grossed over $2 billion worldwide across all platforms. There's been over 175 million of the Skylanders toys sold too. Skylanders is a giant...
Skylanders Swap Force photo
Skylanders Swap Force

The last two Skylanders: Swap Force types are out

Now you can 100% the campaign
Jan 13
// Chris Carter
If you haven't been following Skylanders, the game requires specific physical toys to unlock content. Not only does each character have a unique challenge, but they also have particular elemental powers (to unlock certain gat...
Snow globe photo
Snow globe

Now this is what you do with a Skylanders Portal

Too cute for words
Jan 12
// Wesley Ruscher
I'm not into Skylanders, but even I can't help but want this fantastic snow globe created from one the game's portal devices. Using a smaller 3DS portal and a snow globe creation kit, the holiday themed Skylanders ball of fes...
Skylanders photo

Skylanders Collection Vault brings new level of obsession

Prepare to see a whole new side of your Skylanders
Nov 30
// Wesley Ruscher
For those looking to get a tad more intimate with their favorite Skylanders, Activision has a new app, the Skylanders Collection Vault, currently available on the iOS App Store.  Perfect for managing one's Skylanders col...
Skylanders: Swap Force photo
Skylanders: Swap Force

Impressions: Skylanders: Swap Force (Xbox One and PS4)

Slightly more Pixar-y
Nov 27
// Chris Carter
Skylanders: Swap Force was one of my biggest surprises of the year. After two full iterations in such a short amount of time, I didn't think Vicarious Visions had it in them to make the strongest one yet. But here we are, and...

Wii U gets a Skylanders holiday bundle

Launches Nov. 15 for $299
Oct 25
// Dale North
A new Wii U bundle for this holiday season packs in a Skylanders SWAP Force starter pack for a nice all-in-one gift idea. Set to launch on November 15 for $299.99, this bundle comes with a white Wii U, the Skylanders SWAP For...

New releases: Skylanders, Goodbye Deponia, and more

Oct 14 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Xbox 360: Cabela's African Adventures, Skylanders Swap Force PlayStation 3: The Wolf Among Us, Cabela's African Adventures, Skylanders Swap Force PC: Goodbye Deponia, Cabela's African Adventures, Skylanders Swap Force, Two Brothers, The Stanley Parable: HD Remix PS Vita: Valhalla Knights 3 Wii U: Wipeout: Create & Crash, Skylanders Swap Force Wii: Wipeout: Create & Crash, Cabela's African Adventures, Skylanders Swap Force 3DS: Skylanders Swap Force The Wolf Among Us (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac) [embed]263556:50919:0[/embed] Valhalla Knights 3 (PS Vita) [embed]262078:50537:0[/embed]
Plus The Wolf Among Us hits PSN
A relatively tame week of releases, with the star being Skylanders: Swap Force. This series just prints money, especially now that you can split and merge toys to create new warriors. How cool is that? The other biggies this...

Review: Skylanders: Swap Force

Oct 14 // Chris Carter
Skylanders: Swap Force (3DS, PS3, PS4,  Wii, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Toys For Bob (PS3, 360) / Vicarious Visions (PS4, Xbox One) / n-Space (3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: October 13, 2013 (PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 ) / November 15, 2013 (PS4, Xbox One) / November 2013 (3DS)MSRP: $74.99 (Starter Kit) Once again, Skylanders utilizes the "toy and game" concept, offering up a host of characters to use in-game so long as you own the physical figure. Since Swap Force uses new technology that incorporates figures with multiple pieces, you must buy a new Starter Kit to get the new "Portal of Power" base to beam the toys into the game. Yes it's a bummer, but once you dive into Swap Force you'll quickly forgive the inconvenience. For starters, the series received a huge visual upgrade that puts it on par with many animated theatrical films. While the jump from Spyro's Adventure to Giants wasn't massive enough to turn any heads, Swap Force sports some very high production values in multiple areas of the game, even on a console like the Xbox 360. Not only have old characters been overhauled to bring some more nuance to their animations, but the new characters look fantastic: especially the "Swap Force" members, which I'll get to momentarily. Skylanders also has a stellar voice cast to support said visuals, and pretty much everyone is at the top of their game yet again in Swap Force. Patrick Warburton effortlessly nails the goofy Flynn, and Steve Blum as one half of the anthropomorphic "Hip[po]Bros" is another welcome addition. Famous or not, the rest of the cast is stacked with delightful performances, like a talkative fish who does his best rendition of Steve Buscemi's "total silence" routine from Fargo. I really think at this point after seeing Swap Force in action, Activision could just hire Patrick Warburton and make a pretty entertaining kids show. So what's actually new? Quite a bit, actually. In Giants, the main gimmick involved having to use special "Giant" toys that were larger than most to barge through special barriers. It was highly inoffensive considering that the Starter Pack came with one, and that one Giant was all you really needed to access every bit of content. In Swap Force, many new toys feature detachable legs and upper bodies so that you can mix and match and form your own combinations. I ended up loving this part far more than I thought I would, for multiple reasons. Not only do the new Swap Force toys and in-game models have a ton of detail (Wash Buckler's squid legs are a highlight), but it also allows an unprecedented amount of customization as you search for your favorite playstyle. Immediately, I started experimenting with squid tentacles, snake coils, and chicken feet as I searched for my ideal Skylander, but had a blast the entire time -- especially since each part has its own upgrade path and unique abilities that carry over when you swap them. The key is that the Swap Force brigade isn't solely built around the "switch" gimmick, as a major emphasis has been put on their bottom halves -- which are used to drastically switch up your means of travel. Every Swap Force toy has a new means of getting around, whether that's rocket boots, teleportation, a whirlwind, or wheels -- and they're all a ton of fun. My favorite new character ended up being "Magna Zone," which is the combination of the robotic enforcer of Magna Charge and the fiery rocket legs of Blast Zone. Depending on what leg parts you use new mini-games open up that use completely unique mechanics, like races, flight challenges, Donkey Kong Arcade-esque climbers, 2D platforming sections, and sidescrolling beat-'em-ups. I was pretty surprised at the insane amount of variety the developers packed in, and thankfully, none of it gets stale or overstays its welcome. The core game is just as fun as ever, as it's really easy to just jump in and start blasting or hacking away. Every character still has three base abilities, but nearly all of them have some sort of variation that vastly changes how it operates, like the ability to charge them up into a new attack by holding a button. On higher difficulties Swap Force can put up a decent fight, which is great news for those of you who don't want to just effortlessly make your way through a bunch of playgrounds. Mechanically, quite a bit is new as well in Swap Force, mostly because you finally jump! It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but the first two games did not feature jumping -- instead, players had to use "jump pads" to climb vertically. But given the new-found freedom to leap about, secrets are now more cleverly hidden, new puzzle opportunities arise, and the game just feels better in general as a result. Besides bounding, a concerted effort has been made to make co-op play more fun, which is great news for those of you with kids, or a spouse who enjoys the simplicity of the series. Loot and food are now shared (preventing one player from stealing everything), allowing both players to enjoy the game equally. But multiplayer extends beyond that, as now, everything you do -- even if it's a solo area -- allows the other player to interact in some way. Instead of the one-player puzzle boxes from Giants, co-op partners now have to solve a special multiplayer brain teaser. If there is an area that only accommodates one player, the other is given a power-up or special attack to unleash at their leisure to assist. The enhanced co-op is going to come in handy when you're tackling the most amount of content yet in a Skylanders game. In addition to the fairly hefty campaign, there are more collectibles than ever to find, tons of secrets, and a large amount of bonus missions. The Arena also returns, and it has a staggering amount of gametypes. Thankfully there's a bit of variety this time around, that ranges from PVP, to co-op, to a mix of the two (which is my personal favorite). Like Giants, you earn money and experience in the arena, encouraging everyone to at least try it. You can also raise your "Portal Master Rank" in addition to your Skylanders' actual levels to unlock more items, so you're in for a long ride if you want to get everything -- and it doesn't feel like a grind, because it's fun throughout. Swap Force also benefits from the fact that every past toy is compatible with the third generation. So at this point, you can pick up the previous two games on the cheap, and use pretty much every toy in the current game somewhere down the line. As always, the toy's abilities, appearance, and statistics are still kept in the figure itself -- so you can bring your collection to a friend's house, or even switch console generations without any issues strictly in terms of your character progress. If you were thinking that this was going to be an Activision cash grab, think again. So much heart and soul is consistently poured into the Skylanders franchise time and time again, and Swap Force is no exception. In fact, it's the best one yet.
Skylanders: Swap Force photo
The Skyland of Doctor Moreau
Skylanders has had a bit of an odd history. Initially, it launched under the auspices of the Spyro name, and made a very small splash in the market -- so small, that barely anyone knew what it was. Fast forward to six months ...


There really needs to be a Skylanders cartoon already

It's just so cute!
Sep 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The entire Skylanders series appeals to me in a lot of ways, most of all how it reminds me of cartoons I used to watch as a kid. This latest trailer for SWAP Force really shows off what I mean by that, and really makes me wi...

Let's take a look at the non-swappable new Skylanders

Four new characters
Aug 22
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Okay first of all the creature in the header here looks like something from a nightmare. Just, so creepy. Well whatever it is, it's one of four new Skylanders playable in SWAP Force. Two of them are also just normal Skylander...

Activision bringing Destiny, Ghosts, more to gamescom

Plus Skylanders SWAP Force and Angry Birds
Aug 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Activision will be at gamescom and are planning to wave their giant wads of money around as they will have the biggest ever demo-theater ever built in gamescom history for Destiny. It comes in at 72ft in length, 43ft wide, a...

Skylanders Swap Force is surprisingly more fun than evil

Jul 29 // Steven Hansen
Skylanders: Swap Force (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 [previewed], Xbox One, Wii U, Wii, 3DS)Developer: Vicarious Visions (PS3, PS4, 360, One, Wii U) / n-Space (3DS)/ Beenox (Wii)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: October 13, 2013 After last year’s Skylanders: Giants, which featured bigger monsters, the toys needed a new gimmick. This time, it’s swapability. Over a dozen of the new characters are Swap Force characters, meaning they can be vivisected at the waist (they’re held fast with magnets) and you can change characters’ top and bottom, mixing and matching as you see fit. It’s basically sanctioned unholy fusion of separate action figures. Kids these days have it so easy. Each Skylanders toy has its set of stats tied to it and each Swap Force character halve lays claim to independent statistics, which means you’re not tied to the entire character if, say, you wanted to keep a quick and speedy base but wanted to easily switch between melee and ranged attacks. Or something, I guess. I think it’s more personal preference than anything, because the game isn’t that deep. There is a Nightmare Mode you can gain access to, so maybe being savvy with character abilities and strategies might be a thing worth considering down the line, but everything I got the swappurtunity to go hands-on with was fairly straight forward mashing on monsters, which gets back to my original point: it’s solid mashing on monsters. I get the appeal now. I don’t exactly like the appeal, because there’s something inherently slimy and manipulative about the whole children’s toys market wherein kids are trained to desire all the baubles, but I get it. Had I disposable income and a child, Skylanders would be a no stress way to introduce said stupid human child to videogames in a lax environment. The child would get colorful visual stimuli mildly reminiscent of Ratchet and Clank, silly toys that children are apt to collect and enjoy, and pretty chill monster mashing combat. It’s not to say I wouldn’t get anything from it, either. Skylanders, at least of the Swap Force ilk. are generally named with lovely puns (and permutations thereof when they get swapped) that I enjoy terribly. Invader Zim’s voice actor also voices the main villain, and the writing in general pulled a few chuckles out of me. You can also see some semblance of heart and fun in Swap Force. Jumping has finally been added to the game and while it’s not a core tenet, it’s fun, as we learned so many years ago playing all those platformers. Plus, the jump animations are all kind of great. There’s a snake Swap Force character, Rattle Shake, who is basically Crocodile Dundee with Antnio Banderas’ voice, which is hilarious in and of itself. His jump features a springy sound effect as his tail coils up and propels him upward. I enjoyed it, anyway. The robot legs also bring a cool backflip jump into play. All existing Skylanders characters have been retrofitted with new jumping animations as well. Also, the Crocodile Dundee snake character? His gun is a smaller snake. I hate copping out and suggesting Sklyanders: Swap Force for kids. First, because I don’t know a modicum about child rearing. I’d probably throw s book at them and make them entertain themselves. Or take them to the park to play sports in the hopes of vicariously living through their organized athletic success after my own failures and blown out knees. Yeah, what of it? Don’t tell me how to raise my own gosh darn hypothetical children. The other reason is that I don’t see why those ungrateful little twerps can’t just play Super Mario World like I did; why they have to have something pared down and spoon fed to them. My SNES is literally sitting in my entertainment center right now. Still, if you can abide by the bollocks that comes along with children’s toys (and potential physical pay walls locking you out of side content that you need certain characters or character types for), I can see how Skylanders: Swap Force might be appealing. I’m still leery of the whole charade for more ideological reasons, but it’s a solidly fun escapade with some character to it. And Invader Zim. And a Crocodile Dundee rattle snake with a snake gun.
Skylanders Swap Force photo
Snakes shooting snake guns
Activision’s Skylanders franchise has always smelled of a money grab to me. Copperish, like the smell of old pennies scrounged up by hard-working parents so little Linda Anne can have all the newest and coolest Skylande...

Skylanders in Japan photo
Skylanders in Japan

First Skylanders hits Japan in July, gets Wii U port

That's... weird
Jun 25
// Tony Ponce
We are so used to waiting insufferably long periods of time for Japanese games to be localized and brought out West that we often imagine Japan as this floating island of privilege and good fortune. How easily do we forget th...
Skylanders photo

Hide your kids: Skylanders: Swap Force launches this Oct.

Also coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Jun 07
// Jordan Devore
Skylanders: Swap Force is targeting October 13, Oct. 16, and Oct. 18 for North America, Australia, and Europe, respectively. This new installment, centered around swappable parts for characters, will be out on most every syst...

Reviewing Skylanders Happy Meal Toys

Yeah, slow news day, etc.
Apr 16
// Jim Sterling
Activision sent a box of those Skylanders Giants Happy Meal toys over. Bereft of anything interesting to do, I decided to review them. I didn't really review them, though. I just rambled sarcastically while playing with toys.  Videogame journalism is real.
Skylanders photo

It's happening: Skylanders toys in McDonald's Happy Meals

Parents don't stand a chance
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
This month, the inevitable will happen for the billion-dollar Skylanders franchise: it'll pair up with McDonald's for placement in Happy Meals. Nine toys based on Skylanders Giants will be offered from April 12 to M...
Disney Infinity screens photo
Disney Infinity screens

Disney Infinity shows off new Monsters University screens

Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me!
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
Disney has sent us a new batch of screens from the Monsters University portion of Disney Infinity, which are based on the upcoming Pixar sequel to Monsters Inc. These new shots show off quite a bit of the game's two modes -- ...

Skylanders franchise nets $1 billion in worldwide sales

That's a lot of toys sold
Feb 11
// Keith Swiader
Activision's Skylanders franchise just topped $1 billion in worldwide retail sales, the company announced, inclusive of its toys and accessories, and hit that milestone in only 15 months.  Last week, we reported over 100...

Activision's Kotick 'disappointed' by Wii U launch

Suggests Nintendo's system was a hindrance to Skylanders
Feb 08
// Jim Sterling
Bobby Kotick, Activision's double-Satanic CEO, has been summoned from the Blood Waters to provide his nefarious opinion on the Wii, though he ended up instead discussing the Wii U, and its performance since launch. The o...

Over 100 million Skylanders toys have been sold so far

'The key to longterm success is breakthrough innovation.'
Feb 06
// Keith Swiader
Activision's Skylanders franchise surpassed $500 million in total revenue, with over 100 million toys sold throughout the U.S., the company announced at their Toy Fair 2013 press conference.  The franchise reached this m...
Skylanders: Swap Force photo
Skylanders: Swap Force

Here's what Skylanders: Swap Force looks like in action

Mix and match toys to create new figures
Feb 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The next Skylanders game was revealed early in the morning today and it's going to let you swap different toy parts to make new heroes. Yes, you get to break the toys in half, but on purpose! Skylanders: Swap Force has a pre...

Next Skylanders lets you swap parts to form new toys

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Skylanders: Swap Force (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: Vicarious Visions / nSpace (3DS)Publisher: ActivisionRelease: Fall 2013 It looks like a Pixar movie Activision showed off a very early look at Swap Force to us and even though there's still a ton to work to be done, it's easily one of best-looking games I've seen this generation. The visuals will seriously make you think you're watching an animated CG movie, but it's not just the graphics that give this feel. Vicarious is infusing a ton of animation and life to the characters, capturing the spirit of what makes a Pixar film -- and even some of the better Mario games, like Super Mario Galaxy -- so charming and engrossing. Ridiculously high praises, but completely justified. I can't stress enough how this new tone makes it really feel like a cartoon show. Characters you'll meet in the world are fully animated and voiced now with the bigger focus on storytelling, adding to the kids-show aesthetics. Nothing is pre-rendered either, and cinematics such as the one featuring Flynn (voiced by Patrick Warburton) that I saw were all comprised of in-game assets. The all new swappable toys As I said, there are 32 new Skylanders. 16 of them are your basic heroes, and the other 16 feature swappable body parts. This essential gives you the ability to make 256 unique combinations of different heroes. The two halves are connected by two small magnets that keep them pretty securely connected. In fact, I thought I was about to break the toy I was handed when I first tried to pull it apart. Combining different toys will serve multiple in-game purposes. One of the new Swap Force heroes I was introduced to was Wash Buckler, a water-element character that's a pirate squid. At one point in the demo, Wash Buckler had to go up against a mini-boss named Gear Gollum and Wash wasn't the best suited for this battle due to his slow speed. So the toy was taken off the Portal of Power, and his bottom half was removed to be swapped with the bottom half of Magna Charge, a fire- and robot-based new toy that gets around by a singular electro-magnetic based wheel. The two toys now formed Wash Charge, and the combo of Wash Buckler's attacks with Magna Charge's speed was able to make short work of Gear Gollum. Now imagine doing that with 256 characters. Not only that, but imagine the developers having to plan, animate, and name all of these different combinations, on top of everything else going on. It's quite the feat, that's for sure. Other new characters I saw included Countdown, a walking bomb that can throw his exploding head around and shoot rockets from his hands. Blast Zone is a knight made of fire that can breath fire and throw bombs, plus can move around with rocket boots. My favorite was Roller Brawl, a roller derby undead character who has giant claws on her hands, headbutts enemies, and moves around on roller skates with buzz saws in place of normal skate wheels. You should also know that each half of the toys have a memory chip, so they'll be able to level up on their own as you move them around to different halves. As for the level cap, Vicarious wasn't sure yet if they'll be raising it. Elemental zones are back, with the addition of two new zone types. The first are the dual element gates, so either a Swapple featuring the two required elements or just two people playing co-op with the right elements, will be required to enter them. More of the same there, but the new Swap Force Zones (tentative name) present totally new experiences. These traversal zones require a certain body type, and the one I saw needed a character with a rocket to enter it. From here, the player was actually free flying around an environment, hitting a bunch of rings in order to complete the challenge. You can expect various new gameplay elements, such as areas where you have to climb on walls, compete in races, and dig to find hidden underground caverns. What's old is new again As with Giants before, all the toys from the first two games will work in Swap Force, and yeah, all your upgrades and extras will be intact. Plus, they'll all feature new animations to match up with the new engine. All 100-plus characters now also have to ability to jump now too, a big fan demand that will add some new gameplay elements. Expect local drop in/out co-op, and versus mode to return as well. So this begs the question, is Activision pulling a Call of Duty by having two studios switching off with yearly installments? It's too soon to tell for sure, but I was told by the Activision reps on hand that Toys For Bob's Paul Reiche and I-Wei Huang, the two men that have the final say for the toys in their version of games, have been part of the toy design for Vicarious' version, imparting feedback to ensure the Skylanders feel is present. You can expect Swap Force sometime this fall, and while it's too soon to know what the final prices will be, we do know that the starter pack will consist of two Swap Force characters, one Series 3 Stealth Elf in a new pose and outfit, new Portal of Power, and the game. Needless to say, I was quite impressed by the fresh visual design and really dug the new toys. I love the idea of being able to merge different pieces together, and if anything, this is a great counter to Disney's Infinity project.
Next Skylanders  photo
Skylanders: Swap Force
The next Skylanders is the last thing fans were probably expecting as there's three major changes going on with Swap Force, the new entry in the series. For starters, it's not developer Toys for Bob making this one. Vicarious...

Skylanders New York event photo
Skylanders New York event

Skylanders event being held in New York next week

At the Toys"R"Us in Times Square
Feb 02
// Chris Carter
If you find yourself in New York City on February 5, you can join in on a community event for Skylanders Giants, held at the Times Square Toys"R"Us. Basically, you'll have a chance to get a free Ninjini figure before launch, ...
More Skylanders Giants photo
More Skylanders Giants

Two new Skylanders Giants enter the fray

Thumpback and Eye-Brawl
Jan 23
// Chris Carter
It feels like we've been waiting forever for new Skylanders Giants characters. The titular "Giants," who are rather large and expensive toys, are getting a staggered release schedule to increase demand. Here, near the end of ...

Review: Skylanders: Battlegrounds

Dec 12 // Chris Carter
Skylanders: Battlegrounds (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 4], Android)Developer: Vicarious VisionsPublisher: ActivisionReleased: November 21, 2012MSRP: $6.99 (App) / $49.99 (Starter Pack) To clear things up, this isn't truly a $50 iOS game. The standalone app is $6.99, and the starter pack, which is $49.99, comes with a bluetooth portal of power, three figures (which usually retail for around $10 each), a special item figure, and a redemption code for the game. Pricing it all out (and discounting the fact that the Double Trouble figure is unique to this bundle), you're essentially paying an extra $13 for the convenience of a portal, and an item. Basically, the portal is not needed, since you can activate your Skylanders through the code that came packaged with them. Sadly, this has a drawback, as data is conversely not written to the figure itself -- which is half the fun of owning your own characters. When you use the portal, all you do is ignore a coin fee (in-game currency) for switching out individual Skylanders -- but since the game is fairly easy, you won't need it (outside of potentially using it for the other mobile Skylanders games, Cloud Patrol and Lost Islands). With that out of the way, you still probably won't want to spend any money on Battlegrounds regardless. It's not the same action-oriented game as past Skylanders -- it's more of a simplistic RTS -- which would be fine, if it were done well. You start with up to two skylanders on a hexagonal world map, engaging in rogue-like movement until you land on the same space as an enemy -- in which case, a battle sequence will initiate. Once you're in battle, you can send your squadmates to a location or into an attack formation by swiping a line pattern. It's all pretty easy, but once you have to start tapping the screen constantly to pick up gold, you realize that there had to be an easier way to allow for less tapping. This is only exacerbated by a complete lack of a defensive auto-attack. For whatever reason, your skylanders only attack enemies if you specifically order them to -- meaning there is no idle auto-attack function. This lackluster design choice can get extremely annoying, as you'll constantly find enemies beating on your character for a few seconds only for them to do nothing about it. After repeating this same battle process around twenty times, I started to feel the burn, and a bit of a paywall. At some point you'll probably get bored of fighting the same enemies over and over, and be tempted to spend some extra real-life scratch for in-game help. Honestly? That's about it. You walk over tiles, sometimes get into battles, and fight waves of enemies over and over. There's no real exploration element to be had, something the core Skylanders games do extremely well. The entire premise is also markedly less interesting this time around: you find yourself locked in combat with Kao's Evil Generals -- one of which is a reskin of a regular enemy in the Skylanders console games -- and not Kaos himself. There's no real big bad or interesting villain this time around, which makes it hard to stay motivated. But that one boss reskin isn't the sole culprit, since nearly every enemy in the game is borrowed from the series. Combat in general also gets old as you constantly fight the same small stable of foes over and over, due to the low variety. To add insult to injury, you can't access everything at launch, leaving you at the mercy of updates to access the entire game (at the time of this writing, only 20 of 40 levels are unlocked). If you're interested in the IP, stick to the core Skylanders series and avoid Battlegrounds. Toys for Bob did a great job synthesizing quality figures with quality games: Vicarious Visions, not so much. I don't understand why Activision couldn't just have Giants ported, but until they decide to get serious about a full mobile version of the game, stick to trying out the modest spinoffs Cloud Patrol and Lost Islands.
They might not be giants
Toys For Bob sought to make a quality product that both kids and adults could enjoy in tandem. They greatly succeed with Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure and Skylanders Giants. But as is the case with any runaway IP, one develop...


A $50 iOS game? Skylanders: Battlegrounds

Launches this week
Nov 20
// Dale North
The Skylanders franchise is the new Pokemon when it comes to money making power. Take the retail version of the new iOS franchise game, Skylanders: Battlegrounds, for example. It sells at retail for $49.99. Why so expens...

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