Review in Progress: Skylanders Imaginators


It can be tough reviewing games aimed at kids.

A lot of people flat out refuse to play them, which sometimes leads to me feeling weird for enjoying them. Thankfully I have an amazing wife who still watches Disney movies, so that stigma is quickly washed away — and returns after the elementary plot and lame jokes kick in.

But Skylanders has one big thing going for it: it has substance and character, and always stays true to its beat-’em-up roots. Imaginators‘ character creation tool embraces that notion head-on.

Skylanders Imaginators (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U)
Developer: Toys for Bob
Publisher: Activision
Released: October 16, 2016
MSRP: $74.99 (Starter pack, two characters, fire creation crystal, base, game)

Skylanders is kind of overwhelming at this point. I mean, just look at the picture I took of the insert. Look at it! That’s a ton of toys to keep track of and buy, and that’s just the new Imaginators line.

I have a feeling that Toys for Bob knew this though, so it almost rebooted the entire story (again) to ease people in. Yes, yet again the forces of evil (read: series villain Kaos) are at it, but instead of the Giants, Swap Force, Trap Team, or SuperChargers coming in to help save the day, it’s the “Senseis.” They kind of just…show up, and it feels manufactured as all getup. But, there’s some great bonuses that come alongside of this approach.

For one, there’s an attempt to make Spyro actually matter again. He was chucked to the side directly after the first game, which he wasn’t really in all that much anyway in a clear attempt to parade what’s left of his name around. But Imaginators gives him a purpose, making him the leader of the group, and once again provides hope that we’ll get a real Spyro game at some point. Of course, this probably has something to do with the upcoming launch of the Netflix TV show, where after five years of history, there are tons of other canon characters making up the ensemble cast.

Also, the addition of the Senseis allows for the new class-based system, which is basically akin to choosing a character in a Diablo game. There’s slow but steady staff wielders, ranged characters (both bows and guns), ninjas, brawlers (who have a fighting game-esque moveset), and a few hybrids. The clear delineation between movesets makes for a better action experience, especially when you’re using multiple archetypes in co-op. The Diablo comparisons don’t stop there, as the loot system is much better than before — instead of hunting for hats, you’re acquiring gear, armor pieces, and weapons.

Expanding upon the classes, the new gimmick is the “Creation Crystal,” which comes in Fire form in the base kit, and in every other element separately. It’s an open-ended way of crafting your own Skylander (and automatically lets you choose between the 10 classes). Although you don’t start with every item at your disposal, there’s still hundreds of combinations you can craft right away.

It gets more meticulous than basic head/body/leg choices as well, even going as far as individual color coding (and over 50 paint schemes), sound effect customization, vocal mods, and the ability to choose a catch-phrase. You might not be able to re-create a picturesque Brad Pitt like you can in Skyrim, but I’m going to spend hours pouring over these menus creating the perfect character.

I’m going to take my time with Imaginators as the creation aspect is hefty, and there’s microtransactions abound, so I want to ensure that the game isn’t balanced towards them. Right now I’m inclined to say that the gimmick is better, but the storyline could use a break from Kaos, as much as everyone loves Invader Zim 2.0.

This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!