I hate in-game purchases, I despise DLC upgrades packs and I detest ‘add-on’ purchases for games and consoles. Therefore, when my niece came to stay with me and my partner for the weekend, I eyed-up her Skylanders rucksack with distaste. Low and behold she opened up the rucksack and out came Skylanders – the game. According to the missus, I had a pretty disgusted look upon my face. However, when my niece, smiling as sweet as a buttercup, looked up longingly, I caved-in and let her play Skylanders on my Xbox One. I was intrigued, so after my niece had given up and went off to do other things, I decided, for the sake of journalistic gusto, to step up to the plate and give it a damn good go.
For those who have been living a hermetic lifestyle, Skylanders Swap Force is the next incarnation of the Skylanders franchise. The game is a platform video gamer, published by Activision. It is the third in the series of Skylander titles. It’s pretty easy – you use a Swap Force Portal (a USB device) to swap figures. Once you place your plastic figure on the portal they come alive on screen. Each figure is unique and has different abilities and attributes. However, what is different with Swap Force is that each figure can be split in half. You can change top and bottom halves on a figure to strengthen their skill base. There are sixteen characters – however you can use older games figures as well.
The game is pretty unique – it’s fun, fresh and vigorously entertaining. Therefore, the swapability is enthused with dynamism as you can create over 150 different combinations of characters – some “Swap Zones” require different skill sets to enter. Therefore, it is a game that offers challenges and it offers fun. Once I realised this, I decided that UGP needed a review. Skylanders is not a new game – it’s a spin-off with it’s heritage in the 90s PS title Spyro the Dragon. It’s a platform game and has a very surreal retro look and feel (that is not to say the graphics are retro). It is a very connected game. The story is simple, the Skylanders are on a ‘quest’ to stop the wonderfully entitled Koas from doing very naughty things. In order to stop Koas, the Skylanders need to travel through a multitude of make-believe inspired levels. The Skylanders need to help one another out and they need to battle Koas’ minions whilst collecting treasure – which lets the Skylanders buy abilities and items. It’s pretty simple really. The name of the game is quite literally; divide and conquer. All you need to do is to create the right Skylander (with the right skills) to win the day!
The gameplay is quite unique, that I didn’t realise. I spent some time with my niece drawing (when not playing Skylanders) and her imagination was wondrous. She drew pictures of dinosaurs, of pop stars, of knights and dragons, of wizards and birds. This ‘unlimited capacity’ to envisage a world of enlightenment is the reason why Skylanders is so popular. It allows children the scope to play with different genres of toys in one central premise. This multi-genre narrative captivates adults and children through being fun – it is this fun’ness that really makes the game a success.
Now, whilst the visual element was stunning, the storyline intriguing and strangely comforting with a large dollop of fun, there is another more suspect issue facing this game. Money! Parents will buy this game for their kids. Adults can play it, but it’s really a kids game. Therefore, you need to know the cost:
The Skylanders Swap Force starter pack, with three figures, the disc and the portal cost £ 55. If you want all sixteen characters you will have to buy thirteen more characters individually. These rang from £8 to £ 22.31 on Amazon UK. Therefore, a quick calculation finds it could cost approximately £ 124 to buy all the figures. Therefore, you’re looking at around £ 160 to fully kit out your Skylanders Swap Force collection. This is a lot of money. In fact, this is approximately the average UK part-time worker’s weekly income. Therefore, pester power and children wanting what they see on TV and in school will be a big factor in the Skylanders experience – the game isn’t cheap and you need to be aware that it can cost. However, it should be noted that you don’t need all the characters to complete the game. In fact you don’t need the full set. That said, you get out what you put in. Therefore, for the best experience it has been designed to favour the full collection in terms of entertainment value.
UGP believes games have three unique elements that, when combined, makes a great game – even greater! Therefore, using the UGP Triple Lock, which means we focus on three elements, that surrounded the perspective (the storyline), the difficulty (how challenging the game play was) and how indulgent the game was. I can say that the game offers a fun and fantastic storyline – something, quite literally, for the whole family. The challenging element of the gameplay and storyline really means you can work on the swapping element to really find the right Skylander, which means you have invested and the result is epic. Finally, the game is fun, fun and more fun! It would, on it’s own, get 9 out of 10. However, as a hater of additional purchases I find the applicability of further purchases in a kids game rather baffling. The pester power issue is apt and the necessity to purchase figures to continue game functionality means the pressure element is an unfair stress for mums and dads. Therefore, due to the extra expense to experience epic gameplay, I have revised the review verdict to 7 out of 10.