I get a lot of flak for this where I work, but I am proud to say that I have loved the Skylanders series since I played the first game. I know that people think it took Spyro and utterly destroyed him, but the only reason they had Spyro’s name on the first game was to catch people’s eyes. I remember standing in the backroom of the store I worked at looking at the first Skylanders starter kit and thinking to myself “Yeah, like that’s going to take off!”
A few weeks later, my co-workers started playing it and even my boss started playing it with his daughter. All I heard was how amazing Skylanders was. So, it went on sale and I finally took the plunge. Oh, and what a plunge it was. You see, Skylanders set me up with a game, a Portal of Power, and three character figures. It told me that I could put those figures on the Portal pad that it came with and see them come to life in the game. Even better, I could play as them, level them up, and they each had their own skill trees.
Oh boy, this was going to get addicting. Every day I went into work I saw all those characters sitting on hooks. All of them a new set of abilities and new ways to interact with the game. They even set the game up to encourage you to go out and buy more. Only certain elements could reach side areas, and of course each time you found a special “Soul Gem” in the game, you were treated to a trailer starring the character that goes with it. Yeah I spent a lot of money on this series and I have a lot of characters. I mean, a lot.
Three Games down, a Fourth on the Way
Skylanders has continued to add new characters and new elements that change the way the game is played. It was never significant until last year’s release of Swap Force. With the third game in the series, special characters were introduced that could be separated into two halves and reformed as any combination you could imagine. Your powers, and upgrades went with you and you had more power over the way the game is played than ever before. Also, you could finally jump!
Now we have Skylanders Trap Team. This upcoming title in the series reinvigorates the entire formula with some fresh concepts that should encourage fans old and new to jump on the bandwagon. First thing’s first, we need to address the elephant in the room. Even if you bought every starter pack until this point, you’re still going to have to buy another one for this game as the Portal of Power has changed once again.
Yes, yes, I hear your groans, but you’ll be happy to know that the new features are well worth the need to buy yet another portal.
Introducing Traptanium, and It's Going to Change Everything
It may not be the greatest name in the world, but Traptanium is key both to the new game’s storyline, and the additional gameplay elements that have been added. Within the game, the story revolves around a prison made of Traptanium that Kaos, the series mainstay villain, destroys. All of the prisoners are set free, and now the guardians of the prison, the Trap Team as it were, must seek them out and recapture them.
Within the game, the mineral powers the Trap Team’s weapons, but outside the game, you possess some Traptanium of your own. As fans will know, the Portal of Power typically acts as a pad where you can place characters you want to play as and see them appear in the game. Now, the new portal includes a slot for Traptanium crystals. The major new mechanic here in Trap Team is the ability to utilize real world crystals to trap various villains from the game once you’ve defeated them.
The crystals comes in various forms for each of the game’s eight elements. Also revealed in the announcement trailer was a special black crystal that holds Kaos himself. Once you’ve trapped the enemies in the crystals, you can play as them on the fly! This works for the series cooperative play, which is making a return. One person can play as the physical figure and the other can take control of the character within the crystal. Putting two and two together here reveals that we can finally take control of Kaos himself! As a fan of the series, I allowed myself a relatively large fist pump when I made this realization.
To add to the game’s typical method of breaking the fourth wall, once you’ve trapped one of the game’s villains in a Traptanium crystal, you will hear them talking to you through a speaker in the new Portal of Power. As they speak, the inserted crystal will flash along with their words, which gives players a feel that they truly trapped something within the game piece. You can only hold one villain per crystal, and you will of course have to possess a crystal of the proper element. If you find another villain, you can swap them out with the one in the crystal, or since there are over forty villains in the game to capture, you can buy more crystals.
A Perfect Mix of Old and New
Just like the previous Skylanders games, Trap Team is going to bring a variety of new figures ranging from the standard sized ones, to larger Trap Team characters, and finally revamped characters from past games will also be making a comeback as reposed figures. All in all, you can expect fifty new characters in addition to your crystal buying habits. Is it expensive? Of course, but if you’re either a collector or a gamer looking for something to play with the kids or the other half, this is a great series to have on hand.
As with every release, the portal and game will be compatible with your older characters, they can all move forward with their progress, and upgrades intact. One thing that developer Toys for Bob confirmed was that the game would once again have the metagame Skystones, which was an awesome distraction in Skylanders Giants. The metagame has you playing with character themed stones on a grid and you collect new stones to use in battle as you play. It’s not incredibly deep, but it was very fun when it first appeared.
Since we’ll be buying a new starter kit, the standard items are included. The game, the new portal, and two characters. In addition, you will also get two of the Traptanium crystals in the box.
A Perfect Game for Everyone
I know it’s expensive, but I love Skylanders. This new game gives you the perfect way to collect the figures you know and love, while also taking control of the games villains, including the one I’ve wanted to play as since the first game. With the wide range of humor and gameplay for all ages, the new and innovative Traptanium crystal system, and the fact that it has two player local co-op play all combine to create a game that may capture your wallet, but in doing so it will also capture your heart.
Do you play Skylanders? Do you think it’s only good for kids, could you enjoy it as well? Tell us in the comments!
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 04/27/2014
December 2014 Update
Just in time for the Christmas season, the new Skylanders Trap Team expansion is set to release! Which side are you on, Team Light or Team Dark? Exclusive to Toys R Us, the two sets (one Light, one Dark) will run $29.99 a piece.