Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure Wii
Perhaps my earliest childhood memory in videogaming (aside from when I pooped myself at the age of four while playing the Power Rangers game on my SNES – I was way too into the game to go relieve my bowels) is when the first Pokemon games came out. At the time there were the Red and Blue versions and both were wonderful little games that both taught me to read, and were also a valuable lesson in the world of marketing; “Gotta Catch Them All”.
14 years later, I find myself at a local Toys R Us observing a trailer for Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. I could tell right away that this was going to be the Tickle-Me Elmo of 2011, but I wasn’t sure why. Looking at my wife I suggested we buy the game and see for ourselves what it was.
Before I discuss the game itself, I’m going to discuss the sheer brilliance that is the concept. The game comes stand-alone with three Skylanders – these are the names of the cute little critters you pay 8 dollars a pop for – as well as the Portal of Power, an object that serves as a launch pad for Skylanders in the game.
Now, this isn’t as brilliant as the in-game marketing (no, seriously – this exists!). While it offers three unique Skylanders as your first few, it doesn’t offer the full experience until you’ve purchased one of EACH element. With 8 elements in total, people will be forking over an extra 40 dollars just to play the game completely. Then, if players wants all the levels, they’ll end up spending an additional forty dollars to unlock content that is already on the disc.
Now that I’ve explained the genius strategy behind the game, we can discuss the game’s build. By design, it’s a gauntlet style top-down platformer, in which players control one of any number of Skylanders they own, in either solo and co-op play. The game allows the switching-out of Skylanders at any point, by removing one currently in play and adding another one. This becomes especially useful in one of two situations:
A) To unlock a gate that is designated to a specific Skylander’s element.
B) One of your Skylanders takes too much damage and is out of commission for the rest of the level. This is actually pretty interesting as later in the game the levels become difficult to complete without losing 2-4 Skylanders. Once again, the more Skylanders you have, the more fulfilled your life is.
The only downside to this game is how many strings are attached to the damn package. I feel like a hypocrite that I get on Battlefield 3‘s case about a 15 dollar map pack, but then end up blowing 20 dollars to extend my gameplay time by an hour. The only justification I really have for this is that these individual Skylanders are the game’s own unique gimmick.
As far as actual gameplay goes, I find it unique in itself, despite its Gauntlet feel. Each Skylander controls differently, and no two levels are alike. The experience, though easy at first, will quickly become a wonderful challenge for children and hardcore gamers alike. On top of all that, this game has a cast that screams epic.
Every single voice in this game can be traced back to something from my childhood. In fact, I went ahead and looked up every voice in the game and was surprised that every famous voice actor but Jim Cummings was in it. Not that he needed to be in it, but the voice of Tigger would have been a perfect fit right along Richard Horvitz (who plays the main bad-guy Kaos in game, and is also known for his role as Invader Zim), and Patrick Warburton (appears as a side character known as Flynn, also known as Joe from Family Guy). I was scratching my head trying to figure out how Activision managed to foot the bill for this game’s voice talent until I remembered the “expansion packs”.
As I mentioned before, this game requires money to enjoy the game at all. How much? You’ll be looking to spend around 160 dollars for the full experience. It may be hard to justify if your child wants this and you aren’t driving a Mercedez Benz, in which case I suggest getting them hooked on an entirely different diversion.
However, if you’re willing to fork out the same amount of money as you would for the Skyrim Collectors Edition, then please be my guest. It’s an awesome game, the only caveat being that it has more hidden fees than most airlines.