Skylanders Giants is the followup to the popular Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Released by Activision and Toys for Bob in October 2012, Skylanders Giants brings to life toy characters on your game console. Literally.
While my family is made up of many gamers, I have never played or looked into the Skylanders game before. I did not have experience from playing Spyro’s Adventure, and was slightly thrown off at first by the most unique part of the gameplay I experienced: switching characters. If you’ve never had a chance to play Skylanders, that probably sounds a bit odd. I mean, many games allow you to change characters, right? The unique aspect is that each copy of Skylanders Giants comes with multiple character figures and a “portal of power” base to connect to your system. When you place one of the figures on the portal, that character appears on the screen and is controllable. Want to switch characters? Take the figure off, and stand another on the portal.
What takes this concept a step further is the ability to buy new figures to use in the game. Instead of downloading content to access new characters, there are 48 figures that can be purchased and collected, all able to be used in game simply by standing them on the portal of power accessory. This is a fun addition for kids, since they love to hold and play with a character that is right out of their video games or movies. For parents, however, it might be a slightly different story. In order to access certain content or to play as any of those extra characters, you have to make a purchase. Game play is possible with just the three characters included in the starter pack, but some options may require additional figures. For example, I played with a set of four characters, two of which are included in the starter pack, two which are not. I tried each of the four characters I had available at a gate, which would not open for anyone but an undead skylander. The level is still playable and I was able to progress a different route, but not the way I wanted to go (in this case, the standard starter pack does come with an undead character). That said, the extra characters are not different than digital download content for other games, and at least you have something tangible to show for it!
Now that we have the unique ‘wow’ factor, let’s move on to gameplay. The four characters available with the pack I played with are Jet-Vac, Prism Break, Tree Rex, and Pop Fizz. Each character has two basic moves available to begin, with more moves that can be opened up as you progress through the game. In the starter pack you will receive Jet-Vac, Tree Rex and Cynder. Cynder is an undead dragon who also appeared in Spyro’s Adventure, as did around half of the characters available in Skylanders Giants.
Gameplay involves some puzzle work and requires thought, with hidden passages and blocked paths for players to navigate and figure out how to progress. At a demo of the game on display at my local Best Buy store, I saw some adults unable to figure out how to progress, while many children under 10 were able to figure them out; the game can be played and enjoyed by any age with a combination of challenge and fun. While combat was very point and shoot, similar to hack and slash style games, it was still fun and prevents young players from being overwhelmed.
Overall I would rate Skylanders Giants highly for families, children, or those who are already familiar with the games and enjoy them. If you’re a hardcore first person shooter type, or want an in depth story line like many popular turn based games offer, this might not be for you. But who knows, with the various challenges to conquer and the collectible characters, you just might enjoy it!
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.