In the space of two years Skylanders has become one of the biggest video game franchises. Whether you’ve read about it in the press or picked up on playground chatter, it’s worth being one step ahead of the kids. Here are our top tips – brought to you by gaming expert Andy Robertson – on how to get ahead in the game without breaking the bank.
Skylanders is a video-game and toy franchise that uses figures to grant access to characters and areas in the videogame. A starter pack provides the game, a portal peripheral used to bring the toy characters to life in the game and three toy figures.
The Skylanders Giants videogame retails for £49.99 for a starter pack or £39.99 for a booster pack if you already own the original game. The figures sell for between £8 and £15. There are 40 or so toy figures available for each Skylanders game.
The novelty is that the game saves progress to the toy figures wirelessly via the portal. They can be taken on and off the portal at any stage to swap characters in the game. They are also compatible with any version of the game. So, for example, you can take your Wii figures to a friend’s house and use them on their Xbox version of Skylanders.
There are four different types of figures you can buy; each is distinguishable from its packaging. Series 1 figures (with a green base) are from Spyro’s Adventure. Series 2 figures (with an orange base) are reposed versions of the original figures re-released with Skylanders Giants. New light up Lightcore figures were released for Giants and illuminate when they are on the portal. Eight Giant and eight new normal figures were added to the collection for Giants.
The first game in the series, Skylanders: Spyros Adventure, supports all figures with green bases that were released with it. It also supports characters for Giants (with orange bases) that existed originally. Check packaging for compatibility.
The second game in the series, Skylanders Giants, supports all figures. Original green based figures bring all their upgrades with them into the new game and can upgrade to a higher level. Series 2 re-posed versions of the original figures also get a special Wow-Pow attack and the ability to switch upgrade paths at will. The light-up Lightcore figures get a special smart bomb attack when they join the game.
The video game
Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants both offer similar gameplay. This is a two-player simultaneous action adventure where you shoot and fight enemies and solve puzzles – quite similar to the Lego games although without the split screen.
Skylanders Giants offers more interactions from a wider set of figures. It also offers a difficulty level that enables young (or advanced) players to be accommodated and provides another reason to replay the game once it has been finished. The 360 and PS3 version of the original game has a very difficult final boss (also true but less so on the Wii).
You can complete both Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure with just the starter pack characters. Additional figures do extend gameplay by granting access to new characters and areas, but are a “nice to have” rather than necessity.
To be able to access every area in Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure you need one figure in each of the eight element groupings. The same figures can be used to access every area in Skylanders Giants although you also need one Giant to access other areas – which the game comes with.
You can identify which grouping a figure is in from its packaging and the materials of its base. You can also look on the bottom to find the element symbol, or check details in the game by pausing to access the menus.
The figures are not all available at the same time. Shops stock new models in groups with new waves of figures made available during the life of the game. Second hand figures often sell on eBay for much more than their retail price due to their rarity.
Certain figures are available in a limited edition “Legendary” variant that provides increased stats in the game. Some of these variants are only available from a particular retailler. Some are only available in a certain country. Additionally there are a large number of novelty figures that can be found at random at retail. Silver, Gold, Glow in the Dark and even Flock covered figures are much sought after although do not make a big difference in the game.
The game contains video trailers for each toy character that are triggered as you play. These advertise new toys that players need to purchase if they want to use the character in the game. It is worth noting the above point that these are optional extras not required to complete the game.
You can use the portal from the first game with Skylanders Giants. To this end there is a Portal owner’s expansion pack that offers better value to returning players. Portals for Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure were battery powered for Wii and PS3, whereas for Giants they are wired. This is to enable the portal to draw more power for the light-up Lightcore figures.