Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure 3DS

I’ve been keeping half an eye on Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, partially because I’m interested in playing it, and partially because I’m fully expecting it to show up in classrooms I teach in come January.  There were a few new screenshots for the 3DS version released today, and instead of just putting them up and leaving it at that, I felt the need to really explain why you should be interested in this game if you know any kids, or if you still like toys.

I personally can remember school yard fights about the dominance of the Sega Genesis over the Super Nintendo.  The simple fact of the matter was that when you were 8, you might be able to get your parents to buy you one for a birthday or Christmas present.  But there was absolutely no way they were going to buy you both, so you needed to convince yourself that Sonic was in every way superior to Mario and find ways to defend the honour of your chosen console on the playground.  Of course one of the wonderful things as a kid was going over to your friends house who had the other console, it was a world of adventure and wonder, trying all these new games, or seeing blood in Mortal Kombat. (Not that I would have played that game when I was 8, don’t worry mom)  The problem was, you couldn’t really play together.  It actually caused rifts in classes, and I see this happening even today with the three consoles.  Less so in the handheld arena, because most kids aren’t getting a PSP, but it happens.

So, what is a video game company to do? Why, make a multiplatform release!  Of course that just means everybody is comparing them endlessly instead of just sharing and enjoying them.  And that’s where Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure comes in.  If you hadn’t been paying attention I can understand how it would have passed you by.  It is a platformer in the Spyro ‘universe’ that has an innovative hook that I’m surprised it took this long to figure out: your toys come alive in the game.

What I mean by that is you place your toy on a ‘portal’ type device, and your character appears a few seconds later in the game.  I don’t mean ‘a character that looks like yours’ either, I mean your character.  Experience, upgrades and powers all save directly to your toy, so that piece of plastic and memory is your save game.  That means you can pick up your toy and bring it over to your friends house and drop in your character you’ve spent all kinds of time on, into their game.

Now that wouldn’t work if everyone had to have the same system, so they’ve made
the toys completely interoperable with every portal on every version of the game.  And there are many versions.  If you have a PC, Mac, XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii or 3DS, you can buy this game.  There are very, very few people that don’t have at least one of those systems, and therein lies the real hope for this game: with 35+ characters and everyone being able to play, can this become the new fad?

Well clearly Activision is hoping, as they’ve enlisted some truly A-list talent.  Hans Zimmer is doing the music, and the story has been written by Joel Cohen and Alex Sokolow.  Not household names like Hans Zimmer, but you’ve probably heard of their little project called Toy Story.  Now, each game comes bundled with a ‘Portal of Power’ by which you input your character (or characters in co-op) as well as the Spyro, Trigger Happy and Gill Grunt figures.  These characters are very different from each other, with various types of attacks, weapons, elemental powers and visual upgrades.  Of course this means you should probably buy the other 32 figures as well, just so you can try them all out.

This doesn’t mean you need to buy them, you’ll be able to play through the entire game with your starter pack, mixing and matching along the way, but to get the most out of the game you’ll want to take a look at other characters.  There will also be some playsets released later on that will give new levels, though how that works exactly I’m not sure.  There will also be a web portal for you to share your characters with other people and play mini-games on, which will provide another reason to pick up a few more characters.

The game looks to be varied and incredibly interesting for what is essentially a ‘kiddie game’. The actual gameplay seems to break out of the ‘game for marketing sake’ and actually look like it would be a blast to play.  At any time a friend can pop on their toy and all of a sudden you’re playing co-op.  If you want to prove your toy is the best, you can battle it out in an arena mode and settle that playground dispute.  Of course if you want to work together, you’ll find yourselves swapping characters to beat puzzles, facing tricky jumps and battling all manner of enemy as you chase crystal objectives and find hidden challenges in every level.

The 3DS is a bit different, as it’s a portable console.  There isn’t any co-op and the portal has been downsized to reflect that. However you can store two characters on your 3DS to swap between at a moments notice so you’ll never be stuck with a single hero.

I do have to end on a bit of a negative note though, and it’s hard to do.  Every console has a starter pack, and every console has the same $69.99 price.  Now, I know you’re getting three toys, a portal and a game for that money, but for the 3DS that seems rather high.   The playsets and individual characters haven’t shown up at retailers yet, but with the October 16th release date quickly approaching, I’m sure they (and their prices) will be available shortly. Keep an eye on Spyro, he’s back in a big and very interesting way!


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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