Welcome back to another 5&1 Review. This time, I’ll be taking a look at one of the more kid friendly and expensive titles out there: Skylanders: Giants.
What is the game: Skylanders: Giants is basically an upgraded version of Skylands: Spyro’s Adventure. All 32 original Skylanders can be used with the original game, although many have been made into Series 2 figures with new poses or Lightcore figures, where they light up on the base. In addition, there are various new figures to use as you clear the game’s 16 levels and various arena and heroic challenges.
How does it work: Like the last game, players use the Portal of Power to place a Skylander down to run through the level, finding hats, money, treasure and more along the way. While you can get through just the 16 story levels with the Skylanders provided in the base set, you’ll really need one of each element to experience the full game, meaning nine in all. However, players of the last game will be happy to know that Skylanders, complete with experience and skills learned, carry over.
In fact, those Skylanders, along with any other ones, can go to level 15 now. New abilities can now be learned on Flynn’s ship instead of Skylander island, which you’ll be on through the course of the game.
The story starts in the past, showing what happened to the Giants after taking care of the Arkeyans. It then forwards to present day, where Kaos is back and trying to take over Skyland by rebuilding the ancient race.
The biggest change to the game, literally, is the Giants. Each Giant has higher base stats than the rest, can break down doors that would normally require bombs and can access hidden areas. In fact, except for a few locations, you can easily run through the game using just a Giant character with other Skylanders mixed in just to open new locations.
While gameplay is nearly identical to the last game, there are a few changes and additional features that give this version a leg up over the original. There’s a new card minigame that’s been introduced called Skystone. The game is simple enough to pick up: You and your opponent each have five cards with various arrows on them. You take turns placing cards and taking over other cards with more arrows on a side than another. This goes until the 3×3 board is filled up, with the winner being the most cards taken. You get a new card from your opponent for winning.
Another addition that I found similar to the heroic challenges were the new arena challenges from Brock. The challenges revolve around surviving waves, but add different elements to it, like fighting through smoke grenades. The biggest draw to this mode for me was the easy way it let you gain experience and money to use for upgrades.
The final change I really noticed was being able to purchase items from Moneybags from the start. The bear features hats you can buy, new arenas, challenge levels and potions that can be used in levels. This is great for Skylanders from the previous game that may have a ton of money but nothing to spend it on.
As a quick sidenote, the battle arena for two-players is back and still just split-screen for families that want to fight each other. I didn’t spend a ton of time with the mode, but I can definitely see the value that siblings can have playing against each other or how kids can enjoy fighting against parents.
Why should you care: Because the game’s still simple and enjoyable to play, but can quickly get its hooks into you and have you saying “One more level” at midnight. You should especially care if you have children old enough to play simpler games. Skylanders is a good introduction to games as you play along with them, just be prepared to possibly spend a bit originally if you have no previous characters.
Who should buy it: Anyone that enjoys simple games or families that want a game they can all play together. Also, definitely give this game a look if you already have the last Skylanders title, since all your characters will carry over.
When should you get it: If you’re reading this before Black Friday, I recommend waiting for the sales many story are having on the Starter Pack. If you’re reading after, I’d buy it whenever you find a sale letting you get multiple Skylanders for cheaper prices. That way, you can get all the elements you need early and be able to progress through the game easier.
Where is it available: All major retailers. While some retailers have exclusive figures you can get, the starter edition and Portal Master edition (which just has a Giant and game) are pretty much the same in every store.