This morning it was announced on Twitter that LEGO Dimensions, Warner Bros. toys-to-life game, would no longer be in development or producing any expansions. Looks like they’ll keep the servers up and running, though if I had to venture a guess it won’t be much past the new year.
LEGO Dimensions wasn’t a bad game. Graev owns probably 90% of all the characters and expansions (that’s a lot), and I own 3-4 expansions and the base game. There’s a lot of content to play through even in the base game, and I think any kids or adults who enjoy LEGO or the Warner Bros. properties have a lot there to enjoy.
The toys-to-life genre is taking quite a beating. First we saw Disney exit the genre. Then, despite a very popular Netflix series, the Skylanders franchise announced there would be no Skylanders game in 2017. I do think that Skylanders will see a resurgence because of the show, and the series desperately needed a break in order to re-imagine itself and wait for more kiddos who don’t know what Skylanders is yet to reach that 5-year-old’ish point.
Are toys-to-life dead? No, I think there’s more to come. Nintendo’s Amiibo are holding strong, and I don’t think it’s just because of the company’s brand. Nintendo is making a much bigger comeback than most of the analyst predicated. It’ll be a 100 million unit seller and see much greater console home penetration that they thought. That will do a lot for Amiibo, and who knows where that’ll take TTL.
And don’t forget about Lightseekers (which I haven’t tried yet) which looks pretty cool too.
If I had to make a super magic ball prediction, I’d say that toys-to-life will make a bigger comeback with AR. Imagine Skylanders with AR built into console gaming. Gets you thinkin’.
The toys-to-life genre has absolutely crushed the second half of 2015 with one major wallet-busting launch after another, and Skylanders lands right in the middle of the fray with their strongest entry yet: Skylanders SuperChargers. SuperChargers introduces big change to the Skylanders franchise with vehicles, online co-op, and a Mario Kart-esque racing system. Let’s dive in and take a look!
Much of the core gameplay still revolves around the Skylanders figures themselves. Many of our favorite Skylanders return as one of the 20 new Skychargers, each witch a matching vehicle, but a few new characters join the ranks of the Skylanders which I’ll get to in just a moment.
The story is rather thin, as all Skylanders stories tend to be, but that doesn’t detract from the point of each mission: Explore, beat up the bad guys, collect lots of coins to upgrade, and beat bosses. The gist of the story this time around is that Kaos has destroyed much of the islands by harnessing the power of darkness. The Skylands are shattered apart and it’s up to the SuperChargers to use their vehicles to save the day. They’re totally up to the challenge, of course.[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBCnhw1U4jU” width=”700″ rel=”no” fs=”no” wmode=”transparent”][/su_youtube_advanced]
In terms of time to complete, the campaign is roughly 10-12 hours for those looking to do a full clear on a harder difficulty. Graev and I played the entire thing co-op, and each mission ended up taking easily 1.5-2 hours. I don’t want to gloss over this point: ONLINE co-op in two different houses with our own copies of the game and our own consoles. You can play finally play with friends!
Each mission definitely had a unique feel with unique looking bad guys and gimmicks. That’s not to say the levels were really all that different in terms of the way in which you went about completing them. The real flavor comes in the form of the new vehicles. Continue reading
We’re big Skylanders fans. We’ve played them all from day one. We even have week one footage of the original Skylanders launch on Youtube. The fanboy force is strong over here. We normally receive a review copy of Skylanders from Activision, but so far we haven’t received any SuperChargers. It got mailed late, right? It’s just lost in the mail and will be here any minute, right? Right? ::lower lip quivers sadly::
I posted last night about my dilemma over LEGO Dimensions. It’s expensive, it might just be another LEGO game, yada yada, but it’s LEGO and it has Gandalf and Doctor Who and who am I kidding I want it. The same dilemma exists over Skylanders SuperChargers.
Skylanders Starter Pack = $75.00
Vehicles: $15 each (I’d want a couple)
Skylanders: $13 each (I’d want a couple)
Sea Racing Action Pack: $35 (New tracks like a Mario Kart circuit, a vehicle, and a Skylander)
There are also “Dual Packs” with a character and a vehicle coming in around MSRP $25 but those have a release date in October. As always, Skylanders are releasing in waves. Wave 1 will have like 4-6 characters and vehicles, wave 2 adds more, etc.
SuperChargers on Wii U allows you to play Bowser and Donkey Kong Skylanders which are ALSO Amiibo! Are you freaking kidding me. Genius and insidious in all the right ways. The Wii U version of the Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack comes with Donkey Kong, and the 3DS version comes with Bowers. The Hybrid Amiibo/Skylanders do not work on PS4 or Xbox One, so that’s a huge swing to the Wii U side of the fence.
There’s this question as to whether or not the Wii U version looks inferior, but from all of the videos I’ve watched I can’t tell a difference. Anyone out there have a comparison video or own a Wii U copy and see a huge difference?
Here’s where this gets even harder for me. Skylanders SuperChargers introduces a new mode for racing vehicles that is very similar to Mario Kart; Oh, it’s also online competitive play. Awesome. They also have online (and couch) adventure mode co-op (play the story with friends) which is … yeah, that’s awesome too. Graev and I could play together which is always a HUGE plus for us.
When all is said and done, I’m probably sitting at (including tax) $180 of Skylanders Superchargers stuff that I want. Whew… But it has multiplayer co-op for the story and competitive racing. The struggle is real on this one. Have any of our readers out there already bought Skylanders Superchargers? I know some of you have “kids” who like to play. Wink. wink.
I’m torn. I really, really want everything. If I had all the money in the world then this wouldn’t even be a debate. I’d buy LEGO Dimensions, Skylanders Superchargers, and the rest of Disney Infinity 3.0 and be done with it all. But I don’t, and I can’t, etc. I want to be able to review it all for you guys, but unless the good people at Activision, Traveller’s Tales, and Disney decide to bestow review copies upon me then I’m stuck having to decide to space it out or forgo something.
Here’s where I’m at. I love Disney Infinity 3.0. Amazing game. Check out my review of the overall game as well as the TotR play set. That wasn’t cheap. I love Disney and their games. I’ve also been a long-time fan of the LEGO game series and what Jon Burton and team have come up with. We’ve played and reviewed them all here on our blog. But LEGO Dimensions isn’t cheap. It’s $100 for the starter set (LEGO markup is real) and about the same price as the other toys-to-life games out there when it comes to play sets and figures, etc.[su_lightbox type=”image” src=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/LEGO-Doctor-Who.jpg” class=”pointer”] [/su_lightbox]
When I think about it, LEGO Dimensions could technically just be another LEGO game. I’ve played LEGO LotR, LEGO Batman, LEGO et al. Do I need a LEGO game that would run me, bare minimum, $170’ish for what I want? Part of me says yes. Then I think to myself… okay, it’s LEGO. Does it have the building sandbox style of Disney Infinity 3.0 but with LEGOs? Sadly, it doesn’t, which is a huge missed opportunity.
Yet at the same time, Dimensions has a contiguous story across all of their universes which bridges the whole ‘it doesn’t make sense having characters in here that don’t belong’ because inter-dimensional travel is explaining it all. Disney Infinity sorta just throws it all in together and focuses on the characters rather than the ‘universe’ of their ‘infinite possibilities’.
Graev says I should wait for reviews. I want to be one of those reviews, dangit! I want to bring you guys information as soon as I can to help you make an informed decisions on whether or not you should go out there and buy these games. What do you think? Do I wait for reviews and see if LEGO Dimensions is worth it, or do I bite the bullet and pre-order the base game for $100? Your feedback is very, very appreciated. For now, LEGO Dimensions remains on my wishlist.
P.S. I feel like I could write a followup on Skylanders SuperChargers and hit the same chords… maybe I will.
Another year has gone by and we are already at the annual Skylanders release. Time really does fly because it feels like we were playing Swap Force not too long ago. Again we were fortunate to get a review copy from Activision for the newest release — Skylanders Trap Team — and I’ve been checking it out ever since it got here. I wont bother going into too great of detail about what Skylanders are, but if you are curious we have several articles from the past games. Basically it’s light action RPG where you place figures on a tiny portal and see them come to life in the game. What I will go into detail about is all of the new stuff in Skylanders Trap Team.
Trap Masters & Traps
The new hook this year are the traps and the whole concept of trapping villains and turning them to fight for you. The specialty figures in Trap Team are known as Trap Masters and they are each equipped with weapons made out of “Traptanium.” From what I can tell they don’t seem to be really any different than normal Skylanders and have the same amount of abilities and so on. The thing that makes them unique is their ability to destroy Traptanium deposits which usually lead to bonus side areas. Trap Masters are also the only Skylanders that can access the elemental doors that also lead to bonus areas. In past games you would be able to open these with any figure of the respective element, but in Trap Team the doors are made out of Traptanium and can only be opened by Trap Masters.
The traps are actually a pretty cool idea. Each element has its own trap and they can hold one villain from that element. There are around 50 villains that you can trap and initially I was concerned that you would need multiples of each trap in order to catch them all, but thankfully that is not the case. When you do encounter a trappable enemy and defeat him you are given the option of putting him in a trap our not. Regardless of whether or not you decline the trapping, or just don’t have that elemental trap, the villains will be locked away in a vault back at the Skylanders Academy. If you want to put a villain inside a trap, or switch it out with another, all you have to do is go to the vault. So this means you really only need one of each elemental trap rather than 40 traps. You could have multiple traps of an element if you wanted, for taking multiple villains of that element out with you, but it really isn’t necessary.
Villains & The New Portal
The Villain characters are all very interesting and the whole concept of trapping them and using them is easily one of the best ideas added to the series. Some of the Villain characters are just specialty versions of normal monsters that you encounter but some are actually the bosses that you encounter in the game. In order to call out your villain all you need to do is press the left trigger and you “tag-out” with your current Skylander. The villain character can stay out and fight for short amount of time before having to recharge. The timer bar acts as its health as well so taking damage will decrease the amount of time they can be out. I was bothered at first by the time limit but it actually recharges fairly fast. Villains don’t level up or gain new abilities like Skylanders but each one has a special side quest where they can be redeemed. Some of them are fun little missions or minigames but there are a few that amount to just a short conversation. Once the side quest is done the villain turns into his evolved form which usually means some cosmetic changes and making his attacks stronger. Not only that but it seems to greatly slow down the trap timer and make them buffer. Continue reading
Keen and I have been continually playing Swap Force and building up our collection. We figure we’d share some of our thoughts on the other aspects of the game not mentioned in our prior review along with some of our favorite characters.
This side mode is a new addition to the series and a much welcomed one. There are three different kinds: Solo, Team, and Competitive. Either way you’re basically surviving in an arena and fighting off hordes of bad guys rather than beating the tar out of each other. It’s pretty much your typical Horde mode but there are additional power ups (and curses) that can positively and negatively impact your bouts.
Throughout each match your score multiplier increases steadily as long as you aren’t hit. It’s actually a pretty decent way to gain some experience on the side along with a small bit of coin. It is, however, quite hard on the higher difficulty modes where enemies can take half of your HP in one hit. This makes playing anything without a decent dodge maneuver pretty screwed and Giants are just much larger, slower targets which makes them almost useless. Still, it’s something that we enjoy more than just regularly fighting each other and the varied arenas filled with different hazards make it an exciting experience from place to place.
Our Favorite Characters
We currently have 10 or so of the new swappable figures and each of us has started to favor some over the others. Here are some of our picks:
Night Shift is among my favorite of the new Skylanders. He’s pretty much some kind of vampire boxer. His upper piece utilizes punching combos and a vampiric bite that can be used to restore your hitpoints. Charging up his punch allows for a strong and quite comically large uppercut that can be upgraded to net you more money. I usually choose to leave him attached to his original base because it allows for much better maneuverability, especially since punching roots him in place. His base piece allows for VERY quick teleports than can be upgraded to shoot projectiles. It’s really fun to “poof” in and out and all over the place and lay the smackdown on baddies.
I love water types and this is definitely right up my alley. Wash Buckler is a pirate themed octopus dude with a tentacle leg base. I’m not overly fond of the base, which does decent damage with tentacle slaps and lets you dash-roll around. The top piece is really awesome, though. His main attacks utilize his sword which can also be charged up for additional damage. His alternate attack fires bubbles out of his pistol which encapsulate and immobilize bad guys. Later on you can upgrade the bubbles to contain piranhas that deal damage over time to enemies. I took this a step further by choosing the upgrade path that lets me shoot TWO bubbles out which can trap many enemies at once and each bubble is filled with a swarm of piranhas. Wash Buckler makes crowd control a breeze.
Grilla was my first pick. I saw him and immediately wanted him. He’s all about punching enemies with his top half, and drilling into the ground to plant turrets with his base. I was slightly disappointed by the base because I thought he would drill around the map or rely more on his drill, but in the end he’s become a very balanced and effective Skylander. His turrets are decent. I picked the ones that splash damage to nearby enemies, but probably should have gone with the rapid fire banana shooters.
As if one big ape wasn’t enough, Grilla can call little monkeys to do battle for him. These moneys are sent out in a wave and smack around a few things before disappearing. All-in-all, he’s a decent Skylander with a really neat vibe.
Blast Zone is my new favorite Skylander. At first I thought he would be this generic guy who throws bombs. After all, he came with the starter pack so I figured he was just one of the Skylanders Activision had little faith in selling. Turns out, he’s friggin amazing. His top half is all about bombs and fire. Blast Zone can spray fire in front of him that I can control to make a circle around myself. When I throw bombs through the fire, they catch fire and do even more damage.
His bottom half is all about zooming around with fire rockets spreading fire and ramming into enemies. The ability to travel quickly allows him to get out which is great on the hardest difficulty where one hit will take a huge amount of health.
Being ranged, AoE-centric, durable, and able to move around quickly is the perfect blend for a Skylander.
The Future of Skylanders? ONLINE!
We’re sure everybody who has ever played these games has wished for some kind of online mode. Fighting against other players online seems to be a no-brainer. People love min-maxing pokemon and battling online so why can’t this take off in a similar fashion? We both get super excited when we talk about all of the incredible things they could do with this game online. Maybe even an online MOBA-inspired battle mode? That would be incredibly awesome.
Activision was awesome enough to send us the Skylanders Swap Force starter pack so that we could share our thoughts on the game with our readers. We were both very interested to see how this year’s game would stack up, especially since it launched not long after its new, and wildly popular, competition Disney Infinity. Last year Giants game out but, while enjoyable, it didn’t feel like a huge step for the series. I admit to being more than a little concerned that Swap Force might not be able to hold its own. However… I should have known better than to count the Skylanders as down and out.
The first thing most people will look at after they crack open the starter pack is the figures. It comes with one series 3 figure (Stealth Elf, been around since the first game) and two Swap figures, the main pull of this iteration as the Giants were last year. Each Swap character comes in two pieces: A top and bottom. They are held together by some curiously strong magnets, which for me was probably more amusing than it should have been since I can’t stop pulling them apart and laughing like an idiot. All of the Swap characters, 16 in all, can change out their base for any of the others which gives you something like 256 possible combinations. So you can take the fire character and water character, and swap their pieces out to make two fire/water characters. It’s actually pretty awesome.
The Swap figures are slightly larger than a basic figure, but not as large as a Giant. Speaking of which, there don’t seem to be any new Giant figures but there are several new Swap Force branded regular and Lightcore figures. Some are old returning favorites while others are brand new Skylanders.
To be sure you are buying an actual Skylander with the ability to swap, look for the “Swap Force” black circular logo as seen on the packaging to the left. This will alleviate some of the confusion as you come across many of the regular Skylanders still branded in Swap Force packaging.
After we finished messing around with the figures Keen and I sat down for some co-op play. We were promptly blown away. The game has gotten quite a makeover since last year — it looks truly spectacular. I don’t know if it’s a new engine, but it looks and runs great. I wasn’t expecting such a vast improvement to the visuals. The rest of the game’s presentation is similar fare, but that’s not really a bad thing. Swap Force introduces a new and interesting area known as the Cloudbreak Islands where a volcano erupts every 100 years to replenish the magic of the Skylands.
The core gameplay is of course similar to the previous titles, but it does feel tighter and more polished. The greatest change would be the ability to jump. No longer do you feel glued to the ground. Now you can hop around like an idiot, which is one of my favorite things to do in video games. I would love to be able to double jump, though, but I’ll take what I can get. The game retains it’s mission-based format except now we’re back to having an interesting hub-world rather than the tiny airship from Giants. Each level still contains several hidden collectables, hats, hidden areas, etc. that usually require more than one play-through if you want to get everything.
The Swappable characters add great level of depth and interest. The Swap Force characters play like traditional Skylanders except their abilities are separated between their top and base pieces. The top piece is the main character, gains the experience and money, and has the main attacks. The bottom pieces offer their own ability line and also provide different special abilities that let you unlock doors and gain access to special challenges. Both top and bottom abilities have their own upgrade lines and diverging upgrade path which gives the swappable characters more upgrades than basic figures. What’s really cool about this is that you can keep the main part of your character (the top) and swap out the base if you don’t like the second attack/ability, or if you want to gain access to an additional element to gain a stat boost or open an element door.
All of the characters from previous games also work in Swap Force but are pretty much limited to what they could do in their respective games, meaning they can only reach a certain level or may lack some of the new abilities.
Swap Zones are a new addition to levels. These gated areas require your Skylander’s ‘base’ to provide the required special ability (located on the front center of the base and indicated on the bottom right of the box). These Swap Zones act like replayable mini-games. Dual-Element gates are another addition requiring you to meet both required elements to enter. You swap your Skylanders until you alone qualify, or you can meet the element requirements together with a friend. These separate adventures yield great rewards and provide even more depth to the level.
The Price of Entry
The most common issue with a game like this is obviously the pricing. The toy-game genre can be incredibly expensive if you go in with a collector’s mentality. Some people may be able to afford it, but I’m sure a lot more can’t. The starter pack is around $75 and figures range anywhere from $10-$17 depending of whether it’s a Basic, Lightcore, or Swappable figure. The best piece of advice I can offer, which I gave when Disney Infinity came out, is be patient and wait for sales. These games almost always have deals going on somewhere, and you can easily get the starter pack for cheaper along with other deals like ‘Buy one get one 40%” off. Sites like CheapAssGamer.com are great for finding good deals.
I find that I’m having a similar reaction to Swap Force figures as I did to Giants. Back when I played Giants I pretty exclusively played as a giant because why the heck would I not be the bigger, badder, more interesting characters? The same holds true for Swap Force. Sure, I’d love to collect all of the new figures but realistically I won’t be able to. What makes it easier to deal with is the fact that I probably would be only playing with the swappable characters anyway and there are only 16 of those, which is a lot easier to swallow instead of 55+ and even more so if you want to cut it down to only 8 figures (One of each element). Even then you get like 64 different character combinations. Or you can even go for less than that if you want and utilize older figures. You’re still going to be able to enjoy the game.
Skylanders is still going strong and will easily hold its own in this continually growing genre. Both of us easily recommend the game to newcomers and fans of the franchise alike, but still cautiously advise not to go overboard on the buying like Keen did after we got our press kit in the mail. He went out and bought every Swap Character causing the TRU employee to audibly exclaim, “Oh my god…”
Swap Force has definitely made us believers again. We’re already making plans to hit up Toys’R’Us for some of the regular Swap Force Skylanders that look cool to us. Stay tuned for more posts on our Skylanders Swap Force adventure.
We give Skylanders Swap Force an amazing 4.5/5
So just recently Skylanders Swap Force was announced. The hook in this entry seems to be the new 2-piece figures that can swap out their top and bottom sets to create dozens of different combinations. It’s a pretty interesting idea and I’m curious to see how they implement it. Will the Skylander you create just have a few powers from each set or will the unique combination of, say, putting the tentacle legs on the bottom of the robot guy give you some special ability that only comes with that arrangement. Will some areas require a combination of tech/magic or water/fire, etc, to gain access? Also announced was the addition of the ability to jump, which lots of people have been wanting, including me.
That’s really the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I’m not aware of any other details having been announced. Well, except that they will be releasing 32 or so figures. I think 16 will be new Skylanders and the rest will be updated versions, like they did with Giants, and I’m assuming the “16 new skylanders” are the swap force figures. When you think about it, this is actually a pretty cool idea. Even if you only get a few of the figures, that still gets you several different character combinations, which can give players the variety of play without requiring the purchase of so many figures. And, of course, all of your old figures will work in the new game. The only thing that won’t are the old portals.
I do have some concerns, however. The franchise seems to be becoming a yearly thing and that worries me. I don’t know how far they can push things in only a short amount of time. The past games were good and all, but they had some issues, one of which being their simplicity. Only a few of the buttons on the controllers are utilized, with the rest being mapped as repeats. I understand that their core demographic is kids, but that seems to not be giving kids nowadays a lot of credit. Years ago we might have only had 2 buttons and a d-pad, but every kid today has grown up with more complex stuff and they are doing things that we probably never could at that age. So that being said, I would appreciate a more complex game. Giants did offer difficulty settings, but all it really seemed to be was making the enemies hit harder and you hit softer, which I don’t think is a really smart difficulty design. Hopefully with the addition of the jump ability we will see some new gameplay mechanics put into action, like some platforming. Another big thing that players want is online play, both in the form of co-op and battle arenas. I haven’t heard anything mentioned on the subject but it would be a gross oversight for them not to include it this time around.
I am excited because I do like the Skylanders brand a lot, but this time I am a little more cautious. If they hope to compete with Disney’s foray into the genre, Skylanders really needs to bring its A game.
Exciting news today! Disney just announced a new toy and game combination: Disney Infinity. Disney Infinity will utilize different character figures, play set pieces, and discs. When placed on the base piece they bring to life new characters and powers in the game. Sound familiar? It should because it’s essentially Skylanders, except with Disney and Pixar IPs. However, it does take the familiar Skylanders format and push it forward with its “Toy Box” concept.
Players will be able to gather game assets like weapons/vehicles and save them to their Toy Box, where they can they create and build their own world and adventures in a vast open environment. Not only that, but the Toy Box mode can feature up to 4 players at once and there is even online play along with content sharing. The video brought to mind the Toy Story 3 game made by Avalanche software who just so happens to be the company working with Disney Interactive. From what I saw in the trailer it gives off somewhat of a Little Big Planet vibe and… Originally I wanted to say somewhat of a Minecraft vibe, what with the bright, chunky environments that can be terraformed, but Keen recommended I avoid that as to not confuse people. Er, wait… Check out the trailer.trailer.
Anyways, Disney really seemed to do their homework on this one. They took the Skylanders concept and really pushed it forward with new and exciting gameplay ideas. The Skylanders franchise is going to be forced to take bigger steps in their future games if they hope to compete. I mean, GIANTS was good but it felt like no more than an expansion pack, and didn’t really do much to further the scope of the series by bringing in new concepts and ideas.
I’m actually really looking forward to this game now and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Luckily it seems like they are aiming for a June release, which isn’t too bad. Unfortunately, however, it’s going to be another expensive hobby. Yikes!
It’s only been a year or so since the original Skylanders first came out. I suppose that can be viewed as a good, or bad, depending on your point of view. More Skylanders figures and fun gameplay are always nice, but in only a years time could they possibly have tweaked much of the experience? I guess it depends on whether or not you can still have fun with more of the same or if you crave completely new experiences. Hmmm… I think we made a blog post about that once. Any-who, SKYLANDERS TIME WOOO!
Read our full review after the break. Continue reading