I got a copy of the Skylanders: Spyro's Adventures Wii game for the boys back in last November, and since then they have barely played another Wii game. And I have barely touched the Wii.
It is essentially a toy-based cross-platform Role Playing Game (RPG), where players take on the role of a Portal Master who can control many many characters. Yes, more than 32 different ones in fact!
The Starter Pack contains the game, the portal of power, and three figures: Spyro, Trigger Happy, and Gill Grunt. And the cool thing has got to be the portal of power as it provides the communication between the toy figurines and the game. So when you place one toy figurine on it, that toy becomes your Skylander in the game.
What's even cooler is that all of the characters’ levels, equipment, and treasure are stored in the toy - it has a chip, much like the chip in our EZ Link card, embedded inside which 'remembers' - and this allows you to take them with you. Take your levels to a friend’s house or even cross platforms like XBOX or PS3.
The story line starts out with the Skylander world in trouble and it is up to us, the Portal Masters, to save it. For me, the story line is one of the main strengths of the game (other than the toy figurine collecting craze, but I'll get to that later) and it should come as no surprise since it was penned Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, both of whom worked on Pixar's original Toy Story film. Add a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer, I think the play-ability of the game is very strong indeed.
There are 8 different elements under which the characters are classified, namely undead, magic, tech, earth, fire, life, water, and air. And you are able to upgrade each character's individual powers and choose its upgrade path. Of course, some challenges work better with certain elements due to their individual stattistics such as attack power, defense or speed.
Does it sound all too techie yet? Because it is actually not.
The 2 boys love the game play and the fact that they are able to rotate the individual Skylanders midway through a game so that they may stand a better chance at fighting a Boss character amplifies that fun.
Both Ash & Ayd have managed to get through all the adventure levels, but just as I thought I would finally get the chance to level up my own Skylander character, they tell me that there are still hidden things they need to get in the game and new characters that I need to buy. I hope their piggy banks are full enough then.
There is also a player vs player aspect of the game. The Battle Arena pits two characters against each other, which Ash has taken great delight in using his higher levelled Skylander to humiliate mine.
As for the toy figurines, I have to say they are quite well-made and yes, the temptation to collect ALL of them is really great.
Too too too great in fact.
I have resisted the temptation to collect each and every one of them out there. But that's probably because not all have been released yet.
And so my verdict?
The game is fun and appropriate for all ages. Yes, it is somewhat violent - there are explosions, shooting, fire and other forms of destruction but no form of blood spilled. It is probably no more violent that most cartoons on TV.
The game play is easy and intuitive. It has an engaging story line, with lots of animated sequences, which made my monkies actually want to watch to follow the story instead of delving into the various stages immediately.
The characters and their personalities are well designed and look appealing. The toys appear to be multiplying every time the wifey inspects the TV console.
The game has a long playing life, due to the different characters and lots of hidden extras in all the levels. The game involves exploring all the levels, finding treasure and solving puzzles and also mini-games within the levels.
And lastly, IT IS addictive. But lest you think the monkies play at every opportunity, they are only allowed to play it during the school holidays and also, game time is limited to one hour a day then.
So in our house, we love it! The boys that is. :P
And now, a sequel is already in the works and due to be released end of this year! *groan*