Review | Skylanders: Trap Team
The Skylanders are back for another rip-roaring adventure with Skylanders: Trap Team. In the latest adventure, Trap Team, Toys for Bob uses the new Traptanium Portal device to make the villain characters playable. The Spyro the Dragon series has really taken off since it was rebooted as Skylanders. In addition, it influenced other titles like Disney Infinity, and now Nintendo with Super Smash Bros. I am specifically referring to the use of interactive action figurines in the gameplay. In Trap Team, Toys for Bob takes things a step further. In the latest installment of the franchise, the villains are now playable characters. Using the Trap Masters and the Traptanium Portal, players have the ability to trap villains with special keys. Then, using the keys, players may tag in the villains and make them fight for the Skylanders side.
As a fan of toys and action figures, I love how Toys for Bob has evolved the Spyro and Skylanders series to use toys for interactively play in the game. Using the physical Traptanium Portal, players may swap out any of the Trap Masters or Skylander warriors. All existing Skylander figures from previous games are compatible with the new one. After a villain is trapped, the voice for that villain is audible in the little “cage” that is sculpted into the portal. That is an ingenious aspect. While you play, the villain will crack humorous jokes or respond to what is going on in the game. I like the fact that Toys for Bob did something new and different from the typical youth-oriented action/adventure platform game for the Skylander series.
In Skylanders, the evil Kaos has located Cloudcracker Prison and blows it up. This frees all the villains who were imprisoned there to invade Skylands. The Trap Masters and Skylanders join up with head of security and master in secret ninja commando operations Buzz, the pilot Flynn and explorer Cali in a mission to save the Skylands from the nefarious villains. As you progress through the game, you fill face dozens of villains and bad guys. After certain ones are trapped, they will be converted over to the Skylanders side. Then, the villains may be tagged in to fight for a limited amount of time. The villains have their own special abilities and unique side quests, that may be completed throughout the game.
The starter set for the PlayStation 4 version includes the game, the Traptanium Portal, two unique Trap Keys, Trap Master Snapshot and Skylander Food Fight. It is not a bad deal for $74.99. The unfortunate drawback is that while you can beat the game, getting access to all the hidden areas and completing all the side quests comes with a considerable expense. Players will need various other Trap keys, Skylanders and Trap Masters in order to complete the game. It becomes quite expensive to buy all the characters and Trap Keys you need. Also, some areas of the game favor a certain variety of Skylanders, such as fire-based or water-based. So while you can use all your previous Skylander figures for the game, you will still need the new Trap Keys and some new Trap Masters. It is expensive to buy just the ones needed to complete the game 100%–even if you take advantage of the Skylander toy sales at Toys R Us. This may not be a problem for Skylanders fans. Just know that if you are or your kids are getting into the Skylander series, it is going to cost quite a bit–a lot more than the typical individual game release.
The good news is that Skylanders: Trap Team is a bunch of fun. The game is really simple and easy to pick up and play. I love the character designs. The level environments are fun, elaborate and teaming with life. New attacks and abilities are purchasable at Skylander Academy. Overall, the story is delightful. The story is fun for all ages, but there are creative in-jokes that even adults will enjoy. The game has tremendous voice acting. My personal favorite character is Richard Horvitz as Kaos. Obviously, the writers and developers were clearly thinking about Invader Zim with the character. Horvitz basically uses the same voice, but Kaos also adopts many of Zim’s personal traits, mannerisms, catchphrases and general Zim-isms.
There is a lot of content to play with in the game. Kaos Doom Challenge may be accessed as Skylanders Academy or in the main menu. The Kaos Doom Challenge is basically enemy wave, tower defense mode. The Skylander has to defend off waves of enemies from Kaos to protect a mystery box from various enemies. There are 100 waves total. The Kaos Doom Challenge Mode is a good way to level up your character and pick up more loot. Each villain has its own unlockable side quest that may be played during the various levels. The Skylanders Academy also has some alternate areas that offer some fun throwback, side-scrolling platform adventures.
Graphics and visuals looked crisp and immaculate for the PS4. The game runs fine at 1080p and 30fps. I love the imaginative character designs. Each level is also very creative, artistic and teaming with activity. Controls are smooth, tight and responsive. All of the heroes and villains have fun, creative designs. For example, the regular voice of Chompy Mage sounds like Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He’s obsessed with Chompies and even does a ventriloquist act with a Chompy puppet. He has some of the most amusing dialogue in the game. One issue is that characters move very slowly. I wish there was a way for the Skylanders to run or dash. Instead, the characters trot along at a very deliberate place. It would be helpful if there was a way for the characters to run, instead of trotting along at such a slow pace. Sometimes you just want to run to your destination to get there faster.
Overall, Skylanders: Trap Team is a great gateway game for kids. It is also a great game for kids and parents to play together and have fun. The story is fun and amusing, and appropriate for families to enjoy together as well. There is nothing wrong with a game franchise embracing these elements, and the Skylanders series does that very well.
Final Score: 4.0 out of 5.0