An Introduction To Skylanders: When Toys Meet Videogames

If you’ve walked past the toy or videogame isles in a department store recently, you might’ve seen some of the new Skylanders gaming/toy hybrids on the shelves. But what exactly are these neat little figures anyway?

Tree Rex standing on the Skylanders PortalTree Rex standing on the Skylanders Portal

Skylanders: The Nuts & Bolts

In a nutshell, Activision’s trilogy of Skylanders titles are videogames that use an interactive portal/base platform that connects to your gaming platform to switch out your playable character by placing a toy on the portal. Say, if you were playing as the crazy crustacean Wham Bam and you encountered an area of the game better suited for the thick-skinned dragon, Bash, you would simply pull Wham Bam off the platform, replace him with Bash, and the rocky dragon will become instantly playable.

Meet Bash, the rocky Skylander dragonMeet Bash, the rocky Skylander dragon

Since the first game launched in 2011 (Spyro’s Adventure), the family of visually interesting Skylander warriors has continued to expand in a huge number of creative ways. The goal of each Skylanders game is to defeat the cartoony baddies that have invaded the Skylands with your favorite Skylander warriors in a series of games that are designed around lighthearted combat and exploration.

What’s So Special About Skylanders?

It doesn’t matter if you choose the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS or other version of the game, if your character toy is compatible with the game, you can instantly jump into the game by placing your figure on the portal. One of the coolest things about the character figures, is how all of your stats, upgrades, items and other important saved data are stored inside, so if your child enjoys playing with Drobot the cyborg dragon on the Xbox 360, he or she can take Drobot over to a friend’s house to help save the world on their Wii right where they left off.

Drobot and his friends can adventure wherever you take them!Drobot and his friends can adventure wherever you take them!

There are plenty of great aspects about the Skylanders franchise, including the child-friendly “my first real videogame” charms of the characters and world, how user-friendly the system is to pop favorite characters in and out of the game as needed, as well as how much genuine personality each Skylander has. Each Skylander is one of eight types: Fire, Water, Earth, Life, Air, Tech, Magic and Undead, and every Skylander type has an advantage and can exclusively access certain parts of each game. That said, if you want to get the full Skylanders experience, you’ll want to pick out the coolest-looking Skylander from each elemental type so you can play each section, while grabbing as much treasure as possible.

Skylanders: The Evolution of Toys & Videogames

With each new Skylanders game comes new types of figures, as Skylanders Giants introduced the Giant character toys who are huge, strong creatures that can punch holes through the ground, pull around entire islands and other impressive feats of strength, allowing for additional exploration. The newest type of Skylanders are the Swap Force figures, which allow players to mix and match the top and bottom halves of the figures to create new characters with unique abilities.

Dino-Rang throws earthen boomerangs at baddiesDino-Rang throws earthen boomerangs at baddies

What I like the most about the Skylanders series is how each detailed toy reflects the wild virtual warrior inside, and that the developers at Toys for Bob and Vicarious Visions are introducing new and exciting characters to the kids so that they can discover who their favorite heroes are. After searching through the expansive roster, I couldn’t help but to think “Man, I’d have loved this game as a kid!” as I encountered bold designs like Tree Rex the mammoth tree beast, Dino-Rang the boomerang-chucking dinosaur and Scorp the toxic Sting Ball-slinging scorpion warrior.

Rattle Shake, the Skylanders Swap Force figureRattle Shake, the Skylanders Swap Force figure

All in all, Skylanders is a highly polished take on the classic platformer/action genre with the aid of a hefty collection of exceptionally crafted toys, making it an all-around great time for kids of all ages. Don’t be afraid to pick up a figure for yourself, parents! Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, Giants and Swap Force are all fantastic games for some good ‘ol videogame bonding- But the real question is how do you choose between Thumpback the Giant whale, Grilla Drilla the subterranean primate, or Rattle Shake the snake slinger?

Sources: Skylanders

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