Posts Tagged: Skylanders Giants

Jan 13

All you need to know about Skylanders Giants

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.

The basics

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.

The toys

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.

Saving money

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.

Andy Robertson (@GeekDadGamer) produces Family Gamer TV and the Family Gaming blog.

Dec 12

Essential video games for festive family fun this Christmas

There’s still time for some last minute Christmas shopping – and there should definitely be some room in Santa’s sack for at least one fun computer game. Mum and dad can join in too – and it sure beats a game of charades on December 25 after the presents have been opened and the turkey’s been polished off. But which one to choose? Andy Robertson, family gaming expert, lends a helping hand with his top ten family games of the season.

Nintento Land

Nintendo Land Wii U

Nintendo’s new console may seem similar to the original Wii, but Nintendo Land’s set of games is a case in point of how the new Game-pad controller makes a big difference. Playing with five people at the same time lets everyone get in on the fun. Whether playing hide and seek with Mario Chase, shooting aliens in Metroid Blast or hunting ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion this offers a substantial amount of family fun.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells

Wonderbook for PS3

What better way to spend Christmas than in the world of Harry Potter? Wonderbook: Book of Spells not only has new writing from J K Rowling but also creates a whole new way to play video games. Put the blank pages of its big blue book in front of the PS3 camera and they spring to life with all sorts of interactive creatures and pop-up elements. More games for the Wonderbook peripheral will also be out in the New Year.

Skylanders Giants

Skylanders Giants PS3, 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS

This toy collecting craze, that also has videogame functions, is top of many children’s Christmas list for good reason. Skylanders Giants uses the toys to access special characters and levels in the video-game and saves progress back to the figure itself with no wires or buttons. You can even take your figure to a friend’s house and use it in their game no matter which console they have.

Clockwork Racers

Clockwork Racers iPad, iPhone

This simple racing game starts with players winding up their vehicles on the iPod Touch or iPhone touch screen before using them to race each other around a variety of courses displayed on a central iPad (or big screen via AppleTV). The novel play style and simple controls makes it great for gamers of any age, and there are plenty of levels to download to keep them entertained for hours.

Kinect Sesame Street TV

Kinect Sesame Street TV 360

This is the first of a new series of games for the 360’s hands-free Kinect controller that is aimed at pre-school players. The game uses a TV show style format with Sesame Street characters and then includes optional interactions. Because it continues even if the player gets things wrong this is well suited for the often overlooked younger gamers. More episodes will also be available to download in the New Year.

Paper Mario Sticker Stars

Paper Mario Sticker Stars 3DS

This is a Mario game with a difference — it’s a role play adventure rather than a platform game. This means things are slower paced and the story is much stronger –meaning it depends on much more than reaction times and button pressing. Paper Mario on 3DS is more a strategic and features a novel sticker-collection challenge, and it’s even better if played on the 3DS XL’s larger screens as the whole family can join in and suggest the best way forward.

Need for Speed Most Wanted

Need for Speed Most Wanted PS Vita, PS3, 360, PC

Racing games used to be about going round and round the same small track. Need for Speed Most Wanted changes all this with an open world to explore. This not only means that families can play the game at their own pace but can also plan their route from the start to the finish line. Most impressive is the Vita version that squeezes the full game onto Sony’s new handheld.

Mutant Mudds

Mutant Mudds 3DS eShop

This will have mum and dad reminiscing about the video-games of their youth while the kids enjoy the 3D platforming action. Mutant Mudds is an old school platform game with an innovative layered world that players navigate by jumping back and forth. Music and visuals are a nod to games from the Spectrum and Commodore era while at the same time looking bang up to date.

The Unfinished Swan

The Unfinished Swan PS3

This is a beautifully narrated modern-day fairytale on the PlayStation 3. Players navigate a black and white fantasy world by throwing paint to reveal the path ahead. This simple interaction leads them into a story about a little boy looking for his mother and the painting she hadn’t finished painting. The result is an emotional tale about the challenge of growing up — enjoyable and educational at the same time.

AppMates Cars 2 iPad

This driving game is controlled by placing a real plastic car on the iPad screen to explore the digital world of Pixar’s Cars films. The car is not only designed to ensure it doesn’t mark the screen but also offers a natural way for children to play. This tactile and engaging experience includes nice touches like car headlights on the screen in-front of the toy, day and night modes and new maps to download. It’s ideal for families with younger racers or Pixar fans.

Andy Robertson (@GeekDadGamer) produces Family Gamer TV and the Family Gaming blog. He is also editor of the Ask About Games site for Ukie.

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